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Six young Irish youth sailors participated in a 10 day training/coaching programme at the Cannes Jeuness Sailing Club on the beautiful Baie de Cannes. The squad was trained and coached by Dermot Mc Hugh (Irish Coach) Blessington Sailing School, and  sponsored by Hobie-Cat Europe.  

Two new Hobie 16s and a fairly new school Hobie 16 were eagerly tuned by the squad on Saturday 27thth  February under the watchful eyes of Dermot and Philip for shake down the following day.
The squad, 3 boys and 3 girls, aged between 14 and 17 and generally more familiar to lake and estuary cat sailing, revelled in the warm waters and rolling waves in Baie de Cannes.    
Dermot trained and coached the young eager cat sailors in safe launching and recovery, tacking and gybing in formation on the whistle,  and they were given an introduction to racing in a large fleet.
The French training programme commenced on Tuesday 1st March. The schedule started daily at 9.00a.m. with a 5km road run and some physical training for participants. Theory lectures followed at the Club House. Sailing commenced with briefings and launching of boats at 11.00 hrs for coaching sessions on the water. All classes would come together to race each day at 15.00 hrs and  put their training into practice while being closely watched by their coaches. Debriefing took place afterwards at 16.30 hrs. All in all a very intensive programme..
The weather was unusually changeable, starting  with a wind force 2-4 with blue skies and sunshine early in the week. Unfortunately, with strong winds  coming from the south east and driving large swell and surf the sailing on Tuesday and Wednesday was restricted to the senior and more experienced participants. In the circumstances, we decided to take  time out to visit  Hobie-Cat  Europe for a tour of their factory at Toulon to see first hand how gold medal cats are produced. If you want a 2011 Hobie hat  you have to do this tour!

The weather conditions on Thursday and Friday were wild and fairly windy in the afternoons but our guys had few  problems getting used to the waves and wind. We all retired to the ancient  fortress of St Marguerite on Iles des Lerins a km off the coast at Cannes. The recently restored fort  was like something from a Hollywood set for movies about the French Foreign Legion. We dined each evening at  7.30 pm  on French hearty cuisine and were all tucked up in our beds by 9.30-10.00 pm tired, physically sore but content! We were ferried to and from the island on  Hobie- Cat ‘s six metre. VSR  rib coach boat which was driven by Dermot McHugh. This was also one of the rescue boats for the 
forthcoming regatta.

The regatta commenced on Saturday and sea conditions were excellent with glorious sunshine, the wind blew off the land giving us a flatter and beautiful azure blue sea. Forty seven cats competed for Championnat Regional PACA Catamaran with 27 Hobie 16s, twenty 15,5s. and one SL 16. There were also 6 smaller Tykas and 5 larger Hobie F.18s. competing in separate fleets. The starting lines for the six races were jammers with little room for judgement errors!

Sunday came all too quickly and having picked up a few visitors prizes we headed back inland to Figanieres for our last supper together. The squad returned home to Dublin on Monday morning.

We have undertaken training in the South of France for the past 3 years, but I think this year’s Irish contingent  was truly the best squad – a great bunch of kids who excelled in every way. Take a bow Siobhan, Maeve, Amy, Conor, Nicky and Matthew!!  Some great photos to capture memories of a great week in the South of France!

Meanwhile our Irish Hobie-Cat Training will continue every Sunday after Easter on the Lake at Avon-Ri. Our next outing abroad  could be any of the fabulous Hobie Cup venues in Provence between now and June if we can make it.!

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