Following a number of delays on the road journey from the UK, the boat finally arrived in Marseilles in the early hours of Friday, the first day of racing. Having arranged launching with Corbieres Port Services at 8 am (thank goodness for email and google translate!) we managed to get the boat launched, rig stepped and motored across to Vieux Port arriving shortly before midday. After a quick sort out we managed to fasten enough fittings on to enable us to go sailing and headed of for the race area and the first start at 2pm.
The only race of the day was sailed in a gusty 15-20 knot breeze and we were delighted to return ashore, having kept the mast pointing upwards all day, to find we had managed 5th in our class of 22. Feeling very pleased with ourselves after not sailing for over 7 months and with much work still to do to complete various systems onboard, we retired for an early night to catch up on much needed sleep.
Daylight the next morning saw Matt down at the boat early armed with Sikaflex and his tools to begin working his way through the job list. All the crew joined him and good progress was made before it was time to leave the dock for the race area again and the first start at 11. Three races were sailed in slightly less breeze than the previous day but this time with the benefit of warm sunshine. The starts were extremely competitive with a number of general recalls, the PRO eventually reaching for his black flag and being the lowest rating boat in the fleet we seemed to have company all the way around the race course. Whilst our boat handling was rusty we managed to keep out of too much trouble and returned ashore exhausted after 6pm having scored 3, 7, 9 for the day.
Refusing a beer, Matt got straight into the job list again and was last seen disappearing under the cockpit, tooled up, with his headlamp on, finally re-appearing in time to join us all for a late beer before bedtime.
The final day started the way all the others had, lots of activity on the boat as systems were altered and fittings added, until it was time to leave the dock. Warm sunshine again and a light breeze made it seem more like a summer's day than the beginning of April and the PRO soon got into sequence. After another general recall we finally got away on a coastal race which was rather like a lucky dip for us at every mark as we had forgotten to take the SI’s with us in our haste to make the start! Undeterred and benefitting from having boats to follow, we spent 2 hours sailing up and down the stunning coastline south of Marseille before the race appeared to be abandoned. Dropping our spinnaker we joined the rest of the fleet whilst the PRO waited for the new breeze to settle and eventually the final race was started.
We returned ashore to find we had scored 2nd in the final race only to be recorded as DNF in the first one of the day, a lesson if ever we needed one, on the importance of having the course information onboard. Short on time, as ever, for making our flights, we were fortunate enough to have the Jenson Button of taxi drivers who managed to get us to the airport on time.
Reflecting on the weekend we learnt (or should that be reminded ourselves of) a number of valuable lessons:
1. Make sure the boat is finished before leaving base.
2. Make sure the boat arrives on time.
3. Remember to take the little black box that makes the computers work.
4. When you only have boat speed and heading, don’t throw this one remaining instrument display into the sea as it doesn’t float.
5. Don’t forget to take the SI’s, particularly if you don’t speak the local language, our DNF relegated us to 5th for the regatta from the 3rd we would have finished….
Despite all this we very much enjoyed our visit to Marseille and look forward to returning again for the SNIM event at Easter. In the meantime we would like to thank John Corby for the fantastic job he and his team did rebuilding CXV (again!) and Matt for his efforts in ensuring we were able to get on the water.