First foiling in France

Hi all,

Much to report on my kite boat tour of Europe.  Just brief notes here.  

We've had a couple of very underpowered outings with an LEI but had some good long flying reaches yesterday afternoon with the 12m race kite.  Very choppy so only foiled, low, upwind once.  Steep chop with a wave length of the same order as the hull is not good with height sensor on the main daggerboard and no pitch sensing.  The next foiling system will have pitch sensing ..... All went quite well until the kite pilot, not terribly experienced with race kites, stalled then reflew it developing way too much power....I'm afraid to say that the bridles have exploded and a dozen or so have pulled out of the canopy....that will be a long repair job with sewing machine, and a new bridle, when I get home :( .  But Baptiste is getting much more comfortable with launch/deployment strategies, board (dagger and rudder) management etc.  He is naturally quite cautious - something I like in a sailing companion.  So now that he has been assured of the safety of several of the things he was worried about, and as long as the kite attrition rate doesn't increase, we should do more sailing.  Some of you will have seen this video from a few days ago from Saint Brevin les Pins - quite underpowered but a nice way to capture some action with a fancy Garmin camera/data logger.  (Pan around to see the 360 view.)

Met Germaine Belz in St Brevin.  Wow.  Solo kite boat crossing of the Atlantic 6 months ago.  Did everything himself: designed and built the boat, adapted Armand Torre's bird kite design and built about 10 of them, designed and built all the control systems - including some very clever ideas.  The bird kite is stable at zenith on one line - so he had a good launch system.  Everything manual, including the grinding pedestal for the winch.  So a real ideas man - though I'm not sure the idea to cross the Atlantic solo on such a boat was the best idea he ever had!   Amazing.  He's a fair bit shorter than me  - I really could not have lived in the little cabin...but he managed.  And such a nice guy!  Baptiste said that I was like a child at Christmas looking at all Germain had developed!  This photo is me in the cabin - 5 minutes was long enough!

In Germain's very small cabin

I've been with Baptiste Labat, of robokite blog, for about a week.  A fine young man and, at least from my non-expert viewpoint on the matter of engineers, a very clever engineer - though much better on ideas than actually using tools than some of you.  So far we haven't had major differences of opinion on setting up the nacra - but often discussion has led to far better outcomes than  either of us would have had.  I think perhaps people expect something a little more refined of the Nacra when they see us turn up with Baptiste wearing a Groupama Team France shirt...  The Nacra is not going to be the smartest looking vessel at Foiling Week!

We were with Armorkite at Port Manec'h for about 4 days.  Spectacular place to stay looking out over a lovely harbour.  Armorkite, being a father son and friend team, are developing a commercial kite boat operation -  I can't see how it's going to work myself, but good luck to them.  We were out on one of their two 6.5m monohulls (why only half a boat I don't understand) a few days ago - 25sqm kite in about 15knots of breeze.  The boat moved very nicely, most of the time - but there were a couple of hairy moments and I'm far from convinced about their drift launch system.  And two critical pieces of gear broke while we were out - the lower rudder gudgeon and part of the kite control block system - there's still work to do.  This video will give you an idea of the environment - very nice.

And all this in France.  On the way home (to Quimiac) on Saturday we stopped at Guerande for a traditional (Brittany) crepe dinner with cider at a cute restaurant - inside the walled medieval city!  Just amazing.  And we may have had the odd smooth local (nearly) Bordeaux, some quite spectacular ripe bleu d'Auvergnes and the odd baguette...or two per day.  Fabulous - though the fact that they all speak French and drive on the wrong side of the road is a little inconvenient!

With Baptiste at Guerande