2017 Belgian Championship
Over the weekend of 7-8 October I again had the pleasure of competing at the Chimay sponsored Belgium Nationals sailed out of the Sports Nautiques de l'Eau d'Heure club ("SNEH") on a lake called Lac de la Plate Taille.
Chimay produce some great beers and cheeses and not surprisingly a lot of the sponsor's products were consumed at the event. This year I sailed with Bruce Barnard, an old friend from Australia who has been living in Canada for the last 13 years.
This event has a terrific reputation for "Gastro Sailing," Great company, good food, wine, beer and cheese with some sailing as well for good measure. As in prior years we were met on arrival on the Thursday afternoon by Veronique Hachez, the President of the Belgium Flying Fifteen Association and before we could even unhitch the boat Veronique had produced some of the sponsors products from the boot of her car for an appropriate welcome in the boat park. The rigging of the boat could wait!
Bruce and I spent the Friday doing some touring around and enjoyed a delightful bistro lunch in the town of Chimay just to get in the mood and warmed up for a bistro dinner that evening which was held in another local village with a number of other Flying Fifteen sailors and visitors.
The weight we gained from the previous day's grazing was put to good use in three races on the Saturday. A small but competitive fleet started the racing at 1.00pm on a sausage, sausage, triangle course configuration that was used in all eight races of the regatta. The winds were around 15 knots with gusts well above 20 knots and us fat boys from Australia in the appropriately named "Glass Half Full" ended the day with three wins. A front came though after race three and the Race Officer called it a day but we would have been happy to continue for obvious reasons.
On the Saturday evening for something completely different we sat down, this time at the club, to enjoy yet another magnificent three course meal with good wines, beers and company.
Sunday dawned with significantly lighter winds around 7 knots and the Aussie fat boys could not produce the results of the previous day. Ezekiel Desantoine and Aurelie Chantrenne in BEL 3915 sailed to three wins in the five races held on the Sunday with the other two race wins going to Nick Heath and his daughter Cathleen sailing GBR 3692. So after eight races with two drops both AUS 3845 and BEL 3915 were equal on 9 points (three wins and three seconds each) and GBR 3692 on 12 points. Ezekiel and Aurelie having beaten the fat boys in the last race won the championship on a count back. It was their third Belgium Nationals victory and well deserved for a crew combination who do a fair bit of travelling to events in the UK and Europe.
The race management, catering and social arrangements were all excellent and on behalf of the Aussie fat boys and all competitors thanks to everyone for a wonderful weekend. In particular thanks to Veronique Hachez for all her efforts in yet again organising the event and making us and the other visitors so welcome.
Nick Heath, his family and crews have been attending this event for over 20 years. If you want a few days break grazing in Belgium and France with some sailing chucked in you should pencil in the Belgium Nationals. It is a great event and they are held the second weekend of October each year.