Trophee Breizhskiff 2015 – The invite was too good to miss for the International 14 fleet; come and spend three days practicing and racing on the 2016 World Championship racecourse, with a couple of parties in between. It sounded like a great plan for the beginning of October and it delivered in great style. Eight UK boats joined the three French entrants to give a superb exhibition of skiff sailing and dominate the 64 boat mixed skiff fleet.
On Friday Carnac YC had kindly organised a couple of practice races to allow the fleet to get a feel of the racecourse. A light and shifty day followed, with many snakes and a few ladders to be found, showing that this might be anything but a straightforward weekend. Some great hospitality by our French fleet on the evening brought things to a close with the Brits very much looking forward to having a week of this next year!
Saturday dawned with a light breeze blowing but with the forecast to build giving everyone hope for some great racing, and that’s exactly what happened. By the end of the day it was a rigs back and flat out downhill in 15+ knots of wind in perfect flat water. With a horrific forecast for Sunday predicted, the race officer decided on four races to test the teams and cover himself for the next day-great call! Glen Truswell and Sam Pascoe put down an early marker in race one showing why they have been the ones to beat globally for the last two years. Great speed and boat handling took them clear of the fleet with Doug Pattison and Mark Tait in hot pursuit having a great tussle with Andy Peake and Graeme Oliver, having recovered from a less than perfect start and working their way back from well down the fleet. Truswell/Pascoe were later to be sent to the naughty step for not signing on and gained themselves a penalty, which made their scorecard less than perfect for once!
Race two was a very close affair with Truswell/Pascoe and Peake/Oliver duelling up the first beat, culminating in Truswell/Pascoe slam-dunking at the windward mark, the two teams blasted around the rest of the race with Truswell/Pascoe just having the legs on his old Worlds swimming boat and extending to take the win from Peake/Oliver and a hard charging Andy Fitzgerald and Alex Knight following an impressive maintenance run back to the beach to change a broken tackling in race one, timing their start approach to perfection with a kite drop and committee boat start on the gun!
Race three saw the emergence of Katie Nurton and Nigel Ash into the front pack having a close fight with Pattison/Tait, Fitzgerald/Knight and Peake/Oliver whose charge was later halted by a dodgy knot in the jib halyard forcing a quick swim for Graeme Oliver and allowing them to recover back to fifth after fending off Charles Duchesne and Tom Bracewell, and Emilien Taque and Boris Fritsch who were having a fantastic race just behind the leading pack. Truswell/Pascoe took the win from Pattison/Tait and Nurton/Ash.
After a decent size shift gave a very pin biased line which most of the fleet seemed to miss, with one minute to go Nurton/Ash and Peake/Oliver hit the pin end with speed. Nurton/Ash forced Peake/Oliver to tack earlier than ideal but still comfortably crossing the whole fleet apart from Truswell/Pascoe who had spotted the shift from mid line and tacked. Nurton/Ash forced Peake/Oliver to tack earlier than ideal but still comfortably crossing the whole fleet apart from Truswell/Pascoe, who had spotted the shift from mid line and tacked. Nurton/Ash pushed out left further and when the three came together Nurton/Ash lead from Truswell/Pascoe, with Peake/Oliver close behind and a big gap back to the rest of the fleet. Nurton/Ash did well to fend off the world champions for another lap but in the end the speed of Truswell/Pascoe pulled him past to take the win with Nurton/Ash just holding off Peake/Oliver with some great boat handling and downwind speed.
Saturday night involved a good few beers and Carnac YC put the England rugby game on in the background during dinner. Much taunting and banter ensued between the English fans and the Australi-French; it’s a good job the Brits are good at sailing.
Sunday dawned with an early start time of 9:30am to allow for the weather forecast. Initially pitching up before sunrise, the breeze didn’t look too threatening but by the time the start came round the breeze was up to 18 knots and with a decent size sea running it made for fabulous beats and spectacular runs. With a heavy pin end bias, both Truswell/Pascoe and Peake/Oliver went for port tack fliers. Truswell/Pascoe timed his to perfection and Peake/Oliver had to take a couple of transoms while trying not to get thrown out of the back of the bus! Nurton/Ash started well also to chase Truswell/Pascoe up the beat with Pattison/Tait (later to be called OCS) and Peake/Oliver in hot pursuit. Truswell/Pascoe sailed a faultless race and won from Nurton/Ash and Peake/Oliver.
With many capsizes across the whole skiff fleet, time was ticking and although the race officer was trying to squeeze another race in, the breeze was rising fast and now peaking at 30 knots and rising, discretion was the right tactic and the fleet were sent ashore before the big stuff hit. And it did, causing an entertaining entrance to the recovery area but the camaraderie meant that all teams returned to shore without any issues.
Overall Truswell and Pascoe took the win with Nurton and Ash finishing strongly in second, ahead of a first podium for Peake and Oliver in the 14s. In the Breizhskiff regatta seven of the top 10 boats were 14s, a great showing for the class. Carnac delivered a spectacular event and left everyone very excited about taking out our rugby teams’ inadequacies on the visiting Aussie fleet when they visit the northern hemisphere next year!