Tuesday, June 20, 2017

CV Saint-Aubin-Elbeuf Win French J/80 Sailing League

French J/80 sailing league winners (Le Havre, France)- After La Rochelle last year, it was Le Havre that hosted, from 8 to 11 June, fourteen French clubs for the 2nd edition of the National Sailing League. This unique event was created to determine which French clubs would qualify for the Sailing Champions League semi-final event that will be sailing J/70s in St Petersburg, Russia. The top 50% of the teams at St Petersburg will qualify to participate in the Sailing Champions League finals in Porto Cervo, Sardinia at YC Costa Smeralda.

Nicolas Hénard, President of the French Sailing Federation (FFV), commented that, “the concept of the National Sailing League brings a new dynamic in the way we must consider and design our competitions. The Test Event in La Rochelle last year made it possible to validate the concept and we are delighted that Le Havre hosted the 2017 edition. It was a great occasion to discuss our work in progress and understand their expectations vis-à-vis the FFVoile and how we can expand the exciting National Sailing League throughout France.”

Edward Russo, President of the French National Sailing League Committee, said, "La Rochelle was a great success, it allowed us to select the four sailing clubs for the 2017 Sailing Champions League. The Le Havre event promised an exciting competition between the clubs from all across France, and SR Le Havre delivered.“

J/80 women's sailing team at French Sailing LeagueAs host of this year’s event, Société des Régates du Havre provided a fleet of matched J/80 one-design class sailboats for the fourteen teams. What distinguished the 2017 edition from last year is that eleven different provinces in France were represented, from the “Maritimes” on the north, west and south coasts as well as sailing clubs from the lakes in the French Alps!  It was truly the first national sailing club championship ever held in the history of French sailing!  The supporting partners in the event included MARINEPOOL (the global clothing brand), SAP (the global leader in enterprise technology) and the City of Le Havre.

The hard work put in by the FFV and the French National Sailing League committee paid off in big dividends in terms of the high-quality teams they attracted.  World Champions, Olympic Medallists, European Champions, offshore champions in IMOCA 60s/ Mini 6.5s, all were present!  For example, there was a 100% all women team from CNTL Marseille! Team tactician Marie Duvignac explained their mission, “we are proud to be the only all-women crew in the event. We compete as sailors, not girls, so although there may be some disadvantages in terms of strength, the wonderful part about sailing is that it is mostly skill and brains!  We have plenty of that on our team!  And, we’re not afraid to take on the world’s best, we know the J/80 sailboat quite well.”

J/80 sailing league off Le Havre, FranceOther top French Olympic sailors were also present.  Sofian Bouvet sailed with SR Antibes; he was European champion in 470s in 2013 and 2016 with Jérémie Mion, bronze medalist in 470 at the 2016 World Championships and 7th at the Rio Olympic Games. In addition, Camille Lecointre sailed with SR Brest; he was bronze medalist at the Rio Olympic Games in 470s!  Talk about hauling in “the ringers” to help your club sail fast!  That ain’t whistling Dixie!

How did the winners of this event- CV Saint-Aubin-Elbeuf overcome all this talent and, on top of that, call their home a tiny lake in the French Alps??  Here is how it all went down.

Day One- Friday
The first day saw seven races completed for the fleet.  It was a very intense day for all the teammates who had to work on their maneuvers on the short courses set by the Race Committee. The standings at the end of the day saw SR Antibes in the lead, followed by CVSAE and APCC Nantes.

Day Two- Saturday
The wind conditions on the Le Havre bay did not allow the organizing team to launch as many races as the program foresaw. In the morning, only one race per crew could be completed. It was not until around 5 pm, after a return to shore for the whole fleet, that the crews were able to return to the water to compete for one or two more races.

On the eve of the final day, the podium was identical to the ranking on Friday. But, thanks to their victory in the last race of the day, the CVSAE was tied on equal points with SR Antibes. A duel that was reminiscent of that of last year in La Rochelle between the CVSQ and the CVSAE. In third place, was APCC Nantes and hot on their heels giving them a lot of pressure was the crew from Granville.

French J/80 sailing league winnersDay Three- Sunday
While the first day of racing on Friday took place with 12 knots of wind, then all but disappeared on Saturday, but fortunately, returned on Sunday with 4 to 8 kt winds.  As a result, sail handling and boat handling were at a premium as one meter lost was a hard meter to earn back!  It was incredibly tight competition.  Starting off the day, the two leaders were tied on points, so it was “all or nothing” for them to win the regatta between Antibes Regatta Society (SR Antibes) and the lakes sailors from CV Saint Aubin Elbeuf.  The delicious irony for the team on CVSAE was that Sunday’s conditions exactly mirrored the type of conditions they see on their lake, flat waters, light streaky breezes; it was clear they felt more at home in these conditions than many of the other teams.

The battle on the high seas was intense.  Nevertheless, in the final tally it was CV Saint Aubin Elbeuf that was crowned regatta winners.  That means the final four qualifiers from France to go to the Sailing Champions League in either St Petersburg, Russia or St Moritz, Switzerland will be CV Saint Aubin Elbeuf, SR Antibes, APCC Voiles Sportive Nantes and CV Saint Quentin.

The winning skipper on CV Saint Aubin Elbeuf, Cédric Château, said, "It was a bit complicated this morning because we did not sail very well, we had our three worst races of the regatta. Then we had a little debrief and we recovered ourselves. We were able to get back into the game and it ended rather well for us! We are very pleased, we were sailing against many of the best sailors in France, so we are very proud of this victory.”  Follow the French National Sailing League on Facebook here   For more French National Sailing League information Add to Flipboard Magazine.