Vive la France

This weekend saw a trip to Paris for the Boat Show (Salon Nautique). The sole objective for the trip was to attend the registration and opening of the Mini Transat 2013.

The weekend started with a 4.30am wake up Friday morning to catch the Channel Tunnel across to Calais. We took a leisurely drive down towards Paris, stopping off for lunch and the usual shop to stock up on duck, cheese, mustard and wine; as well as an unexpected snowball fight as we all got a bit excited to be surround by the white stuff. Arriving in Paris mid afternoon, we had a look around and checked into the hotel. You know you have a good view when you can see the Eiffel Tower from the toilet seat! In the evening we dressed up and headed towards the Arc de Triomph to the Yacht Club de France for their annual RORC dinner, which also happened to coincide with my birthday.

After a somewhat merry and late night with everyone from the RORC it was time for a Mini day at the boat show. I spent the morning wondering around the show looking round various stands from sail makers, to electronics and equipment suppliers. As well as a less expected stand that was selling glasses to help prevent seasickness. Seasickness is caused by the confusion in your head, with your body telling you that you’re moving while your eyes remain stationary. The idea behind these glasses were to tell your eyes you were moving, and they supposedly have a 100% success rate. Potentially a big hit for sailors who suffer from seasickness – fully crewed sailors be warned, side effects included bullying and ridicule!

What really stood out for me at the show was that there were stands for such prestigious races as the Vendée Globe, Transat Jacque Vabre, Solitaire du Figaro and more importantly for me, the Mini Transat.

Four o’clock came quickly and I watching the overall prize giving for Class Mini for 2012. The stand was buzzing with fellow Mini sailors getting excited for the official announcement and opening of registration for the Mini Transat 2013. At 16:30PM, the Class Mini flag was raised and fog horn blown – the 2013 Mini Transat has now officially begun!

Mini sailors are all very friendly and we all spent the rest of the afternoon chatting away. It was very interesting to talk to David Raison who has been competing and designing Mini’s since 1999 and most recently designed and raced prototype 747, winning the 2011 Mini Transat. His design is similar to that of a Topper, with a flat bathtub like shape bow. After quizzing him on his inspiration, it was interesting to discuss how he came to the idea after being inspired by the blunt bowed US scows, looking to minimise the waterline length in attempt to get planning quicker.

After the boat show a group of us ventured across Paris to find some food before joining the famous Mini party on a barge on the Seine, not too far from the Eifel Tower. The barge was absolutely packed full of sailors from all different backgrounds. Unfortunately I had to get back to UK and leave “early” at midnight to race to the channel tunnel. I’ve since been told that the party continued on till 06:00AM, I guess that’s what happens when you get a room full of sailors that are used to being sleep deprived.

Now back to the UK I have a few days to get my registration form in for the Mini Transat and make the early deadline. During the boat show 43 entries were made within the hour, each announced by the sound of the foghorn. The official list will be announced in a couple of weeks, then I will be able to gauge how realistic it will be for me to gain one of 84 places on the start for the Mini Transat 2013. Although the list will give me an idea of what’s to come, you can never predict the number of dropouts and when places may become available to move up the waiting list. It is important for me to assume I will have a place and to train and prepare as if I will be in Douarnenez next October on the start line.

Bring it on!