Friday, April 23, 2010

Finally In France And Ready To Race

Hyeres, France - The whole team finally arrived in France late last night, after five days of trying, for the Semaine Olympique Francaise, the fourth stop of the ISAF Sailing World Cup. Initially our plan was to arrive on Monday of this week, so as to have a week of training with the Spanish and French teams. However, our plans changed, to getting here in any way possible before racing started, thanks to the Ejkilas;dfa;sdfjk (Eyjafjallajokull) volcano. As with many travelers this past week, we had flights cancelled on us numerous times, but finally we ended up finding and coordinating three flights and other modes of transport, that eventually got us here.

On The Shuttle To The Plane To Nice
Pockets Stuffed With Luggage And Wearing Heavy Weather Jacket
Debbie's flight was cancelled first on Saturday night, and so she immediately got on the phone with travel agents and Air France to try and arrange other possibilities. She was told the earliest they could get her a flight was on Friday (today), which would have worked but pushing it a little close to the regatta. She booked the flight as a back up, but kept working on other plans to see if there was anything else available. She found three seats on two different Alitalia flights to Rome and booked them for us. Eventually, on Monday, she got back in touch with Air France and they told her that they could get her on a flight on Tuesday to Mardrid, via Atlanta and Texas. When she showed up to the airport on Tuesday morning at 7am, it turned out that somehow she still had the portion of her ticket that took her to Atlanta, but the rest of the ticket was cancelled. The lady at the check-in counter told her to just take the Atlanta flight and they could probably get her out from there. She refused, obviously, because she didn't want to get stuck in Atlanta with no options. So she finally got them to put her standby on a direct flight to Madrid from JFK that day departing at 5pm. As it turned out the flight she was on had at least 15 empty seats so she had no problem getting on it. After she got to Madrid, she was to catch another flight to Barcelona where she was meeting up with USSTAG teammates Brian Boyd, Zach Railey, and coach Kenneth Andreasen for a 7 hour drive to Hyeres, France.

Molly and I had a bit of a different trip. Our flights were cancelled a couple of times after rebookings, and then eventually the airlines couldn't get either of us on flights until next week, so we ended up canceling our original tickets and taking the flights to Rome. When we booked the tickets, I was booked to fly to Chicago and then to Rome, Molly was to fly from LA to Miami, and then to Rome. It seems a bit funny to have it booked like that, given I'm the one that lives close to Miami, but when we were booking, we were taking anything we could get. Molly arrived at LAX airport on Wednesday to find they changed the plane size so they were oversold on her flight by 30 tickets. They were looking for volunteers with a voucher as the incentive, and given that we were in dire need to save some money from having to change tickets, she took the option. Anyway, it meant that instead of arriving into Miami at 8:15pm, she arrived at 12:45am on Thursday morning. I picked her up at the airport, only to return to the airport at 5:30am that morning for my flight to Chicago.

We got our flights to Rome, despite them being delayed a few hours before we took off, and met up there in baggage claim. We arrived at 10am, and our next flight was from Rome to Nice, France at 8pm. Once in Nice our plan was to drive to Hyeres. All was going to plan, except when we went to book into our flight to Nice, they told us they weren't starting to check in until 5pm, and that we could only check one bag at 20kg (about 44lbs) and carry-on one bag (any weight if it would fit into the overhead bin). If we had an extra bag, we would have to pay 22Euros per bag and 12Euros per Kilogram of weight. Well, we were in a bit of a panic at that point, because between the two of us we had six bags, and two of them weighed almost 50lbs each (2.2lb = 1kg). Well, after a couple of coffees to keep us awake, and some creative packing, we managed to get all of our gear into four bags total. We carefully and skillfully placed our bags on the scale when we checked in so that they weighted 21kg each, and the kind lady didn't charge us for being 1kg overweight each. Our carry-on's, however, were now quite heavy (at least 30lbs each), and our pockets were stuffed with headphones, wallets, books and anything else that we couldn't get into the bags. Molly even ended up wearing her big foul weather jacket onto the plane. Anyway, we get through and onto the plane, and slept the hour it took to get to France.

Anna, Coach Dave Dellenbaugh, Debbie At Dinner After Practice Today (Friday)
Next, we arrived in Nice, found the car rental place, and checked in. Just as the attendant is handing me the keys, I reminded him that I would be returning the car to Hyeres, France. He took back the keys and said, "We don't have a car for you." I was like, "What do you mean? I have a reservation which says that I'm returning it to Hyeres, and you were just giving me the keys." Anyway, after a fight with them, and Molly crossing the street to the competition and getting them to say that they could give us a car for cheaper, they all of a sudden had a car for us. So go figure!!!

We had a pleasant one and a half hour drive to Hyeres, arrived at 12:30am, and passed out in our beds pretty quickly. We woke up at what felt like 4:30am, but was really 9:30am, so we forced ourselves to get up and looked out the window.

The rain was pouring and the wind blowing when we awoke, but throughout the day, the wind eased considerably, to around 6-8kts, and the rain lightened up a bit too. We had a great practice today with our USSTAG teammates Genny, Karina, and Alice, and coach Dave Dellenbaugh.

Tomorrow, we have a 9am practice for a couple of hours and then we start racing first thing on Sunday. There are 24 teams here again, and we are following the same format as we have done in previous ISAF Sailing World Cup events, so we will be in group A for the first round robin of racing.

You can follow the results online here at the regatta website, and we will be posting nightly updates to give the low-down on how we doing.

We would like to thank Carmeuse and Trinity Yachts for their support of our campaign for the 2012 Olympics in London. We would also like to thank USSTAG for their support.

Sail Hard,

Team Tunnicliffe