Régates Royales de Cannes 2015
This year I was in the South of France, attending both Cannes and Saint Tropez with a friend, Phil Plumtree who'd entered his West Solent Restricted Class 'ARROW' (1924) into both regattas. Phil picked me up after driving his brand new, pristine VW Transporter from Mersea Island and we left my village, Goldhanger towing a 6 metre RIB down to Calais and further, to Antibes. That's where the big boat was headed under 'convoi exceptionnel', driven by Mersea Island's gem Reuben Frost – Smacksman, RNLI Coxwain, Fireman, Rower exceptionnel and owner of the oldest surviving fishing smack 'Boadicea', built in 1808 – 'Reubs' as I like to call him, is a legend, he's got bigger fore arms than my thigh and I trust him on the water a 100%.
We caught up with Reubs just North of Lyon, via telephone we worked out we were 6 miles apart and tried to rendez-vous, find a motel suitable for HGV's for first light. It didn't happen and we carried on as legendary Mersea boy missed the turning for the arranged shack we were looking forward to. I felt for Reubs though, driving on his own with that beauty of a yacht behind him as I took over my watch on the wheel and Phil snoozed away.
The rain was hammering down, and a few hours later I started slowing down, contemplating a stop to wake up. As Phil was dreaming on about the Azur skies, flat water racing in 10-13.5 knots of wind that the Côte d'Azur was going to give him for the West Solent while snuggled in the passenger seat, I had made my exit off the motor way. Gently pulling into parking lot with relief, I squeezed the break and stupidly lifted my hand up to change down gears, my left foot went full on into clutch mode making the entire contents of the VW behind us, shift forward in the van at pace. Wided-eyed and frightened Phil is then flustered shouting "Whoa!", I also look at him thinking he thinks I've hit something, I'm then confused, swearing before reminding myself I'm driving an automatic. Idiot!
Back on the road again after that brown trouser moment, we carried on through the night. In the morning, launching ARROW in Antibes, and later sailed her round to Cannes with the captain of BORKUMRIFF IV, Paul Kelly. It was a wonderful, relaxing sail with a building breeze as the sun went down... That evening the logistics of moving into the apartment and out of the Antibes digs meant between Reuben and I, we were cruising the strip between Cannes and Antibes. I was pretty relieved that while I looked after the music in the VW Reuben, my hero, came up to a zebra crossing near Palma Beach, Cannes and made the same mistake as me going for the clutch.
ARROW was to be crewed by Phil Plumtree's friends and family. My job was to primarily tow this beautiful, engineless yacht out of the harbour, then I'd be free to use my camera throughout the week although I was invited to race.
Luckily I did have a race on ARROW, possibly on the windiest day, which with my recent injuries from falling off a bike was challenging. I bandaged my knee, which had a slight hole in it from two months ago, the bandage was to protect my knee from the fine scantlings of the cockpit. When these boats heel and you need to stand over a winch there's not much that's forgiving and I know that from racing Halloween (W11), another West Solent back home. It did get fairly breezy, 17knots. Salopettes were on, camera stuffed under the seat, wedged between a bucket brought on board for ladies in need. Check out the on board shots in this album.
Our balcony over-looked the harbour and was particularly close to the Irish bar. Down two floors, turn left and walk a hundred metres, even if you were off to buy toilet roll, you'd be roped into a Guinness and some rugby! The balcony had other uses like watching the conditions in the bay. One morning we had a relentless southerly, keeping us from racing, after making a coffee I revisited the balcony hoping it would change so I starting earning some beer money, and you know what happened? The wind died, I couldn't believe it. It was incredible. Another espresso was needed in ancipation for action on the water. But then, as I looked towards the clouds forming above the mountains the wind shift 180 degrees and filled back in. Pfft! Shopping for a 1 year-old's birthday followed by the Rugby it was then.
MORE COMING SOON...