Seven TF35s met at the beginning of September for a first meeting contested in ideal conditions, in the form of training regattas. The event did not result in any official ranking. It was however rich in lessons for all participants.
It was in Crans près Céligny that the TF35s met in full at the beginning of September, for a first fleet confrontation. After the uncertainties of the spring, linked to the COVID crisis, and a summer devoted to fine-tuning and training. The crews were happy to finally be able to compete and to evaluate the quality of the work done during this particular season. Benoit Deutsch’s team, in charge of the race committee, composed of Serie Master Bertrand Favre and volunteers from the Club Nautique de Crans were hard at work laying out the courses, and launching the starting procedures on a model similar to the D35s. About fifteen people were busy organizing the event awaited by all.
Like the other teams, that of Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier, made the final adjustments before taking up position in the starting area on Friday. Isabelle Gillet, a confirmed snorkeler, followed all the races on board the tender (semi-rigid motorized dinghy dedicated to assisting the crew and towing the boat) and carefully supervised the progress of each regatta. Trained in rescue and first aid, she is in charge of safety should anything go wrong.
“I am very comfortable in the water,” she explains. I can step in quickly and rescue someone who falls in the water, gets hurt, or if the boat were to capsize. We have a scuba tank on board, but if there was an emergency, I can dive in and take advantage of my ease in the liquid environment to unwind an extreme situation. “
Note that each crewman has in his personal equipment, a mini compressed air bottle equipped with a regulator, which allows to survive one minute underwater, as well as a knife.
At the time of going out on the water, Isabelle Gillet systematically carries out a routine dive to inspect the appendages (foils, daggerboards, rudders) and remove any algae before racing.
Pierre Leclainche, pilot of the tender and reserve crewman, for his part, was busy providing technical assistance and stewardship to the crew throughout the weekend. Always close to the boat between races, Pierre brings water bottles as well as energy bars to the crew at the end of each race.
“Their role is to keep the machine moving. I have to make sure that everyone can give their best in the regatta. So the sailors must always be well hydrated and have enough energy. And because it’s a racing machine, they don’t keep anything on board during the races, neither water nor food. It’s a very physical boat that puts a lot of strain on the athletes. The fact that I’m also a crew member helps me to understand what’s needed and allows me to be more efficient. “
Pierre Leclainche also provides technical assistance for Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier. His equipment is perfectly organized on board. He has several toolboxes, small spare equipment, charged batteries and various bits.
At the sporting level, this first meeting reminded everyone how difficult it is to be consistent with such gear. The conditions were ideal, with a light Séchard strengthening between 4 and 10 knots on Friday, and wind from the same sector on Saturday, a little stronger, between 8 and 12 knots. Four races were sailed on Friday and five on Saturday. The airs, however, were not favourable on Sunday, and the only race that was started had to be cancelled just after the start.
Ylliam XII – Comptoir Immobilier proved to be in the mix in most races. A technical problem with the electronics unfortunately immobilized the boat for two races on Saturday. For the rest, the whole crew was delighted to finally be able to race and implement what had been worked on during summer training.
“These sails were very instructive, noted Pierre Pennec, mainsail traveller trimmer. In particular, we were able to observe the different ways of sailing or operating of the other competitors, and we always questioned ourselves, to promote our progress. The boat still needs to evolve and the class will contribute to these developments. We debriefed every day with all the crews in this sense. Overall, the flight system still needs to be improved, and we need to optimise the sail plan to make manoeuvres easier, have better vision and a faster boat in all conditions. “
The learning curve promises to be long and exciting still. Given the difficulty of mastering these new machines in all conditions, the gaps are significant from race to race. One wrong manoeuvre can be very costly, as can an inappropriate sail choice. Almost every crew has demonstrated that they are capable of the best, as well as the worst, sometimes finishing in the top three, or in the bottom pack.
A final training event is still scheduled for early October, before the winter break. The official TF35 championship will begin in earnest in May 2021. The progress that remains to be made for everyone already promises some great racing.