It's 4 am, Saturday.. Light drizzle in La Rochelle, 36 hours to the start of the Mini Transat 2017 La Boulangere. I just came back from picking up Šime (Stipaničev) at the "40 years of Mini" party. One thing is obvious - I'm in poliphasic mode, getting ready for the big start. Although, seeing the photo I got from my dad a couple of days ago, I would say the beginning of this adventure was quite some time ago..
It was taken on our family boat - "Pingvina", an old Jouet Golif - where my sister and I started exploring the sea with our parents. The endless cruises in the Adriatic, weeks in the Sun feeling the taste of the sea all around us. That's where it began, I'm sure. The need for sea.. Anyway, I've been in La Rochelle for the last 10 days now. After a 36 hour drive from Mali Losinj, we had to put Eloa back on her feet and ready for the challenge we've been preparing for the last couple of years. It was not easy leaving our home behind, but once we were among the other 80 people with more or less the same head setup, everything fell into place.
La Rochelle is a really nice place with an interesting history, and pretty sea/ocean oriented. I noticed that among a few thousand boats laying around in marinas, 90% percent are sailboats. That has to do something with the mentality of the nation, no?
After we assembled Eloa, it was time to test sail her in what is going to be her surrounding for the next two months - the Atlantic Ocean! It was a Tuesday afternoon, and again on the horizon around us - plenty of sailboats. So we made some speed tests with the new Figaro3, and were quite happy with our performance :)
After the fun part, it was time to complete all the necessary checks before the Transat - sails, pharmacy, charts, security and boat check, VHF test.. a really thorough check that somewhat helps the organizer, but also the skipper feel safer. In the meantime, we attended a couple of interesting briefings about safety and SAR operations, SSB reception, 1st leg course information and some formal and informal parties organized by the race direction. All in all, a busy ten days which peaked with a prologue race on Sunday - 7 days before the start. Eloa welcomed aboard Thomas, a young Optimist sailor from La Rochelle who helmed Eloa all the way through the race and was pretty happy at the end. So were we..
For the last couple of days, Eloa is resting at the Mini Transat village and I'm preparing all the necessary stuff - food and water reserves, various equipment and spares, meteo information.. So I'm resting too, enjoying the remaining earthly moments in the comfort zone. Which we will leave soon, and try to satisfy the look into the sea in that kid's eyes. From the begging, the start, the big start..