Hello from Caen, France. The sail from Cherbourg wasÂ a Journey Magnificent.Â We left just after noon on Wednesday with a following breeze and sea, and sailed almost to the harbor entrance at Caen before the winds shut off for the evening, causing us to have to motor in the rest of the way. At around 10:00 pm, we motored into the lock which controls the water in and out of the harbor, and then up the channel to the center of the city (nearly a two hour trip!) – where the stage is set for the Normandy Channel Race which starts this Sunday.
Pierre, a friend of Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron from Campagne de France (ourÂ friends and closeÂ competitors in the last two races,) made the trip with me. He’s a fun character who not only made the time go by quickly, but made the passage through the locks and bridges much easier, with him interpreting the French language for me. I’m getting better with my French, able now to order food and get what I expect, talk to a cab driver, rent a car, talk with hotel staff and purchase my du pain au chocolat and jus d’ orange in the morning!! Give me another month, and I’ll see what else I can learn.
Matt Scharl, my co-skipper, arrived yesterday afternoon ahead of us and was able to scope out Caen and set up things for our arrival. We connected today, reviewed the work list, made contact with the race directors and sorted out our plan of attack for the next few days in preparation for the start. So far, things are looking quite good. Each race we do gets a little easier as many of the tasks we do to prepare for them only need to happen once. At this point, many of those items are in place, and don’t need repeating – so that gives us more time to focus on the race itself.
This race is a rather complicated one in that it starts with a triangle course around some local marks before heading to a mark off the French shore. Then the course heads north to marks along the English shore, then across to Ireland for a couple of marks including the famous Fastnet Rock, before heading back to Caen. At 1000 miles long, there are plenty of provisions to shorten the course or change it to make the sailing fit the time schedules of the race. The last couple of races have had shortened courses, and with the early weather predictions for light winds here, who knows what the final course will be. That will make it interesting – not just for us, but for you following the race as well. So hang tight, and follow our updates on the website and Facebook, as it’s gonna be a fun one.
Special thanks to Pierre for sailing with me to Caen.. and as he announced as he first stepped onboard.. “This is my first time in the U.S.!”
And good luck to all our friends back on Lake Michigan who will be sailing the Tri-State Race. Not unlike our race.. three states, one weekend.. we’re three countries, one week. Hoping the summer warmth remains for you. With a new perspective on Ocean racing vs. Great Lakes racing.. I can tell you that many of those Tri-State Races were just as cold and wild as the North Atlantic was this year.