When my mini arrived back in Lorient after the mini transat last year I was not there to collect it.
So it was moved for me to a yard upriver at the town of Hennebont, and there it has stayed until I came here to give it some love and get it back in the water.
The first impressions of the yard are that of a small and sleepy graveyard for old cruising boats; a typical out of the way home for forgotten boats and people with small budgets, over grown with brambles and rotting fibre glass.
But drive down the road a little, and swing in between the two large sheds and you start to get the impression there is something else going on here.
The place is littered with old racing tri-marans in various states of repair some with the hulls stacked neatly one against the other and leaning on bushes at the end of the yard. Others with beams on, just resting on the grass alongside the river bank almost as though they were beached there.
But most incredible of all is what lies behind the doors of the shed on the right. It’s a tri…… it’s enormous and I have no idea how they got it past the central post of the Shed. I don’t know what it is having only glimpsed tiny amounts as the Shed door rolls up a small amount and back down again. But it looks cool.
It is incredible to see so many racing machines just lying around. My good friend Paul Peggs, one of the UK’s mini veterans and founder of the Base centre for Short Handed Sailing in Gosport, came to help me with a little work today and was wondering around the boats in awe.
Sitting outside in my mini, I feel a tiddler among giants and at least two hulls short to be in the gang, but there are re-enforcements.
Round the back of the Shed’s is what we call the garden, where mini’s fresh back from the transat are resting on tires in the grass, keels off waiting to be put back in order. When I arrived the garden was full but slowly these little boats have been picked and towed away so now there are only two left.
The Shed on the left is the real mini army. Roll up the shutters and inside are crammed the protos; being re-tweaked and refitted ready for the new season.
David Raison arrives every day to work on his legendary transat winner 747, now owned by GianCarlo Pedote who has returned after two years in the Figaro to give the mini transat another crack. David will train with GianCarlo and race in the Demi Cle as his co-skipper to make sure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.
Today I loaded my boat onto the road trailer and have left the yard, bottom newly painted and sanded. I am now sitting in Lorient in the pen at AOS and feeling more at home than ever. Around 50 mini’s and figaros sit side by side, masts up just waiting to go sailing, most of them my friends from last years events; it feels like home.
My boat will have to wait a little longer as tonight I am going sailing in someone else’s boat.
Fellow pogo 2 sailor and competitor in the 2009 mini transat, Geoff Duniam, has asked me to deliver his boat ‘Mad Spaniel’ to Lymington ready for the UK events later in the season. I will leave tonight and although cold will not quite describe the temperature out there I am really looking forward to the trip.
Once again out in the open in a little boat; the forecast is promising a fetch to the corner and then a day and a half of hooning down the channel with the big spinnaker. I’ll take the cold; I just want to get back out there.