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Martiniques Combat du Coque ONLY Wins Racing Cruising

What a beautiful Martinique sailing event- 26 ‘hulls’ faced up to each other in good spirits in the Grand Sud Martinique regatta from 21 to 23 May, 2009. The event is organized every year by Lionel Baud from the ‘Open Barre’ association, in partnership with the Club Nautique du Marin and the Hôtel la Dunette. The ‘Open Barre’ association was created in 1998 to allow as many as possible to sail at the highest level and to transform every regatta into enjoyable moments.

The sun shone for the whole three days of the extended Ascension Weekend. There was good wind, beautiful seas, and excellent participation from a hundred or so sailors, from skippers to simple crewmembers, participating in boats of all categories. The base was in the Hotel La Dunette in the centre of the village of St. Anne, right at the water’s edge, with the restaurant overlooking the sea providing an ideal vantage point. The participating yachts could anchor right in front.

This Combat du Coque or ‘Battle of the Hulls’ (literally a ‘Cock Fight’ in French, where a hull is a ‘coque’) is an allusion to the Cock Fights that take part in Martinique in a pit where the cocks must battle each other.

During the three days, the races took place on a coastal course in front of Sainte Anne, Diamant, Ste Luce, Le Marin and the Baie des Anglais (courses for the 21,22 and 23 May), with the “Surprise Regatta’ for the Optimists at the dock in front of the Hotel Dunette. The game of the day for the latter was to start with five Optimists, two sailors per boat, one helming blindfolded, the crewmember on the sheets guiding his colleague through the course. It’s difficult to sail when you cannot see! But the youngsters enjoyed it and the spectators watched and laughed.

A regatta is above all made up of sailors, so here is a look at some of those who took part : ‘Kamikaz Organiz’ sailing on a UFO 22, with skipper Aymeric Pinto and his crew Pierric Pinto, Grazielle Bourdais and Jonathan (all under 22 years old). “Initially, we were able to stay in the lead towards Diamond Rock but with so little wind we became stuck to the Rock and were passed by other competitors who had stayed more offshore. The gap widened even further once you took into account three knots of current which took us way off course,” explained Graziella.

“Many people congratulated us for our return to competition and told us that with newer sails we’d have done a lot of damage! We felt our lack of training but we really enjoyed ourselves. We finished ninth even though we won last year,” lamented Aymeric.

‘Infinitif’ (Le Ponton/ Studio 10), the only crew sailing on a Surprise made up entirely of young women, including the 18-year-old skipper Margaux Villain and helmsman Lina Rolland. They were happy with their start on the first day and an excellent first leg. A few hitches with the spinnaker and the halyard didn’t dampen their determination and they continued to enjoy themselves as much as possible. Both these boats are currently looking for sponsors.

Zwell Wvell– let us not forget the dynamic and friendly President of the League, Yves-Michel Daunar, sailing on his UFO 28. And The catamaran Bahia 45 ‘Titanic Belgique’ with a crew made up of young Belgians, friends of the famous Gaston Talba, with whom they have sailed for some 20 years. Finally, let us congratulate also the winners – ‘Only’ in Racing/Cruising and ‘Caraibes Greement’ in Racing.

This 2009 ‘Battle of the Hulls’ mixed together some good ingredients. The pleasure of sailing along with pleasure of enjoying a good Creole ‘Blaff de Poisson’ before leaving in the morning; parties, three nights of music, and the presence on the final evening of Kali, the famous Martiniquais Rasta singer.

The Surprise Association was created in 2000 to get together ‘Infinitif’ (owned by Bruno Marmousez) and its teenagers, and ‘Wind’ (owned by Jean Trudo) with the aim of teaching youngsters to sail this kind of boat.

More photos are available on www.clubnautiquedumarin.com. To register for next year’s event, contact Lionel Baud, always present ‘at the bar (helm)’, always smiling and relaxed. Call him on 0696 25 55 37 or email on baud@ool.fr and openthebarre@wanadoo.fr.

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