Blind Match Racing Europeans 2022
The team were glad to be heading back to France for the match racing Europeans and taking some new sailors with them.
It was an early start on Saturday with Emily, Emma, Liam and Lucy flying from Gatwick, Colin flying from Newcastle and Vicky and Ivan driving over. First to touch down were Ivan and Vicky who won the race to the campsite. Whilst the others had an hour-and-a-half delay, it all worked out in the end and we were all eating pizza by 20:00.
29 August to the 2 September saw the blind match racing European championships take place at the Base Nautique de Sciez, organised in partnership with UNADEV, an international Blind Match racing championship, and what a wonderful warm event full of sun, fun and twists and turns.
The teams all walked down after a good night's sleep to the beautiful setting in Seciez and started training. The British team were pleased to be back on the lake.
We were so honoured to be hosted by our French friends and of course be back at Camping Chatelet in Sciez, and receive an amazingly warm welcome.
Our teams were made up of Lucy Hodges, Vicki Sheen, Liam Cattermole, and our two coaches Emma and Colin. It was also great to see Emily Wright step in as helm to make up a mixed crew from Italy.
After some practice and a beautiful opening ceremony, the regatta started, with 4 crews representing 3 nations: England, Italy and France.
At a very high level, all matches were played with boats sometimes passing very close to the sound buoys, which is impressive knowing all 3 sailors on board are visually impaired. Winds were light for most of the week, however, towards the end of the week Wednesday saw the wind increase adding a new layer of challenge but all teams showed their skills and boat handling.
All teams showed extensive experience and quality of navigation, and this went a long way to make the Championship successful putting on a spectacular show.
The event was so much more than racing, it was watching sailors grow and again countries coming together to share experiences and enjoy our sport. In July, Lucy stepped on board the French teams' boat and gave some coaching, and it was truly evident that Lucy's valuable advice had been taken on board as we saw France able to align 2 competitive French teams.
Lucy, Liam and Vicky dominated the first two round robins, seeing them enter into the semi-finals with Michaël Aubert, Fabienne Rassat and Catherine Abemont (France) having shown superb quality, pushing the England crew into a 3rd round in the semi-final, after the British team rounded the wrong mark in the strong breeze but it was Lucy, Vicki and Liam who won the day and it was off to the final.
An international crew has been formed for the regatta consisting of Emily (GBR), Marine Clogenson (France) blindfolded and Massimo Mercurio Miranda (Italy). With little preparation and multilingual communication, the crew rose to the challenge and bowed in 3 rounds in the semifinals against Nicolas Rondouin, Olivier Ducruix, Gilles Brunet (France). Massimo brought all his experience of sailing with sound buoys to the many regattas he participated in in Italy, but it was not to be and Olivier was through to the final.
Thursday morning, the final had the British crew of Vicki, Lucy and Liam against the French with Nicolas, Olivier and Gilles. It was a very nice match in quite difficult conditions with a light breeze and choppy waters. Lucy, Liam and Vicki battelled hard but did not seem to get the boat moving in the conditions. But smiles all around seeing Nicolas Rondouin, Olivier Ducruix, Gilles Brunet take the championships.
For all of us, this is the beginning of a beautiful adventure that calls for others. In relation to our French friends we'd like to organise regular training and regattas in Sciez, so watch this space for July.
We're so grateful too that Sciez Naval Base is already a candidate to host the Blind Match Racing World Championship in 2024.
1 - Nicolas Rondouin, Olivier Ducruix, Gilles Brunet (France)
2- Vicki Sheen, Liam Cattermole, Lucy Hodges (GBR)
3- Emily Wright (GBR), Marine Clogenson (France), Maximo Mercury Miranda (Italy)
4- Michael Aubert, Fabienne Rassat, Catherine Abemont, Ange Magaron (France)
Thank you to all that were involved in making it a very special event especially the Thomas Pocklington Trust, who've kindly supported our volunteers. It's still a sport that has people asking 'how do you do that?', well it's hard training and feeling the breeze along with teamwork!