Two months and a half after my first mini race of the season I returned to Brittany to take part in one of the most interesting mini races – the Calvados Cup. It is the only mini event that consists of 3 independent races that all take part in the famous English Cahnnel. Last year I participated with my friend Victor Mathieu in the same races and the great experiences I had (going backwards with the current at least once per day, being called upon and chastised by a stupefied French Coast Guard for entering a protected area near Alderney and finishing only 15 minutes after the Deauville gates were closed for the low tide after more than 3 strenuous days of constant battle with the fickle winds and trecherous currents :)) made me return this year with my own boat.
However, this year the Calvados Cup holds a surprise. After 2 double-handed races, the Cup ends with a solo race, which, if all things go well, will be my first single-handed participation in Classe Mini.
The schedule of the entire event is the following:
Race 1: Douarnenez – Deauville (around 270 miles, double-handed)
Race 2: Deauville – Isle of Wight – Deauville (around 300 miles, double-handed)
Race 3: Deauville – Roscoff (around 180 miles, single-handed)
The first milestone of this campaign was to take the boat to the starting place, which implied a delivery from Concarneau to Douarnenez. A 65 mile voyage along some famous landmarks such as Penmarch, Pointe du Raz and the beautiful Douarnenez Bay. I was very excited about this trip, although my partner Vincent cautioned me that if we leave late from Concarneau it could take us 14 hours to complete the trip. The forecast indicated moderate wind in the morning (10-15 knots) from SE, which would fall in the afternoon, only to return in the evening from NE. The problem was that after 3 PM the current near Pointe du Raz would reverse and instead of carrying us to the north, would push us back to the south. I already had vivid recollections of my first Calva race from 2021 when in the first night Victor and I decided that we would never drop the anchor in the Chennal du Four (one of the places with the strongest current in the world), like all the other skippers who wisely chose to rest for 4 hours until the current reversed, and instead fight with the current in the hope of gaining one or two miles on our competitors only to find ourselves 5 miles behind… This episode still haunts me in a cheerful way. And given that we managed to leave the dock at 11 AM, I was sure the story would repeat.
By the time we left the harbour, the wind was already very light and shifty, rotating gradually from SE to SW. Our initial plan was to reach Pointe du Raz around 3-4 PM, but in reality we got there at sunset. And after rounding the tip of the peninsula and pointing our bow to the east, the north-eastern wind that had carried us for the past 6 hours, died completely, letting us roll in the swell. Then around 3 AM the wind came stronger, at 16-17 knots, and we had a blast sailing fast upwind on a flat sea. We tied the boat to the pontoon in Douarnenez at 5 AM after a long but very nice trip.
Concarneau – Douarnenez stats:
- Distance covered: 76 miles
- Duration: 18 hours (possibly the longest such trip in the Mini history; no reason to brag about:))
- Average speed: 4.2 knots