Back to the theme: I got a mail call from Rolf in Switzerland who is marketing an interesting range of boats, all built by Lion Yachts. The smaller one, the Humphries H-22, we once built ourselves during boatshows and it happened to be a lovely little Sportsboat. Fast and furios in a blow. Always safe to sail. It had to go because the fleet got too big to cope with. The other boat Rolf is selling caught my interest already last year. The AXion 33.5.
The weather was nice, not very much wind and therefore there was only one race per day during four days. Competition came from a lot of different boats, X-35, X-99, Beneteaus 44.7, 40.7 and a separate Sportsboat class with nine H-22´s competing. All boats squeezed together on a small starting line with a shoreline on the left in a short distance. In the first race it was obvious to start at the buoy end, which we did but not with best timing. I was sheeting the jib and later the gennaker and felt responsible for a bit of tactics. I thought we would have to dug many sterns but this incredible boat pulled out with great speed after we got settled and minutes after the start we had to tack due to the shore and we only had to pass 2 sterns. Saw some nice breeze lines out at the sea, catched it and arrived at the weather mark, close to Nice airport way ahead the fleet. It must have been 15 minutes. I forgot to start my watch as the distance was not seconds, but minutes. The wind died on the long way home to the finish line in front of Antibes harbour and we started to drift half way from the finish. Boats from the back end catched up. The wind turned around 180°, headsails up again and we pulled away with the first new breeze. First ship home and we won on corrected time. Big time.
Day two saw some good breeze at the start which later calmed and became a drifter. The weather mark had been set close to Cannes this time. The French race committee had set a mark a mile to weather which was followed by a long downwind leg along the shore to the mark off Cannes. It all went well until we rounded the mark again in dying wind. We opted for the shore again and others drifted out to sea. They got the new breeze (180° shift at noon again) setting in first and some of them rolled us during the downwind tacking. We were fighting back as quick as we got some nice sailable breeze and just squeezed in as second ship home. Corrected we were 4th. The next competitor on the score board had managed two 2nd places thus we had to beat him in the next race.
Day three saw us meeting at the boat without the owner, who had other responsibilities. We had small troubles interpreting the French way of signalling and about the course which was set as an up-and-down. We managed a good start and stayed in front. I remember that the big white gennaker on the boat pulled us fast downwind with a bit of tweaking the tackline. Crew weight on the rail did not help much in rolling the boat to windward. It is just plain stiff. First across the line and first on corrected time was a boost for the morale, the owner and the marketing of the AXion 33.5. Day four was a windless day and we could´nt either loose or show the öpotential of the boat. We won the regatta on a countback and I am still wondering what makes this 33 footer so incredibly fast. It could not have been my sheeting, ej?
Later K. and I spend some nice days strolling through the old and picturesque St. Paul, through the big marinas on the Cote and through St. Tropez. Boat spotting. We saw boats which you normally only see in the glossy mag´s. Ships like "Ice", "Carinthia IV", "Borkum Riff", "Stormy Weather", a couple of 12mR´s and 100foot Swans and the much admired "Mari Cha IV". It was worth of not going iceboating but now I just can´t wait and my friends are luring me into defending my title as Bavarian Champion down at Lake Rescia (see picture above) in the north of Italy. The webcam today looks nice. Black Ice. No snow. Just what we like in winter. But without training?