It is wet and windy in the race village but that is not keeping the feeling of excitement down. The past week has shot by with a blur and every day the build up to the start if the Transat Jacques Vabre grows and grows.
We arrived in Le Havre separately to each other and the boat but were all soon re-united on Saturday morning for the prologue event which was a knock out regatta in J80 boats. Both of us felt like we had been thrown in a bit at the deep end, having only just wrapped up our jobs in the UK and rushed over on the ferry for the start. Pip was a day later than Pips and stepped straight off the ferry and into her sailing gear to make the first race of the day. But all went well and we won the first race of the day by a decent margin which meant we automatically qualified as one of the six boats in the final and left us feeling buoyed up. We later were the first knocked out of the final leaving us 6th overall in the prologue with the boys on Concise 8 coming 4th. All round not a bad result.
Just being in the race village is an incredible experience, the racing machines surrounding the basin are examples of incredible engineering and design, they tell the story of Ocean racing as do their skippers. With Concise 2 we are one of the older class 40s in the pack and ourselves rookies to the TJV but the boat is looking fantastic and holding its own against the others, we are getting so many comments on how good the HedKandi branding looks.
The week so far has been made up of a mixture of official events, briefings and time for us to ensure the boat is in top condition so naturally there is a job list but it is steadily getting shorter. Paul and Scott have been rolling up their sleeves and giving us a great amount of help with preparation. We are trying to juggle media interviews, school visits and our own packing with getting through jobs ourselves. The day before yesterday we had the France 3 television crew on board filming while we were interviewed by some local students from Le Havre.
The safety briefing yesterday was long but relevant and we were really struck at how engaged the French search and rescue services are with us Ocean Racing sailors. One of the main points they made was around looking after each other and that is so important when there are only two of you on the boat. When we have finished dropping south and start making our way into the middle of the Atlantic we will be hours from any assistance.
We have been watching the weather all week and are starting to get a pretty consistent picture of what it will be like at the start and there is little question we can expect a lot of wind when we pass Ushant and head out into the Bay of Biscay. It is pretty normal for this time of year but looking at those grib files does make you realise exactly how tough the race ahead is going to be. We are pretty sure the boat is up to it and as a team we also know that the two of us have seen a lot of weather and bad conditions but no one ever really looks forward to meeting 30 knot winds.
The start is getting so close and the next couple of days will fly by. Tomorrow Tony and Ned will arrive as well as Phillippa’s family and some friends and the time will disappear before we know it. Next stop the start.