A race of UFOs of unparalleled ingenuity

Sirens, wind turbines and lots of elbow grease: this Sunday, July 24, a large public gathered around the Ars-en-Ré Optimist basin to watch the great OFNI race under a bright sun.

It is 4 p.m. when the festivities begin in the port of Ars channel.

Tribute to Tatave

Five Cazavants painfully try to line up facing the current for the start of the first sculling race on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of the painter Tatave*. This figure from the village of Ars had herself taught a large number of children to navigate the Cazavants in her time. Carried by the voices of the Gaillards du Pertuis to the tune of “La Chanson pour le Départ”, the five scullers rush into the channel as best they can. It was Marilyne Dupic, Tatave’s niece, aboard the Cazavant Rhéa, who led the race from the start. She goes up the channel in 4 minutes and 17 seconds, ie 2 seconds faster than the Cazavant Panache which obtains the silver palm. The palme d’or enters the generational furrow of Tatave.

Folk dances and sea shanties

At 5 p.m., near the harbor master’s office, a scene took place. It welcomes the dances of fourteen casseron dancers dressed in noisy wooden clogs and light quichenottes. Their traditional folk dances brighten the atmosphere as the OFNIs and their crews prepare for the big race. Everyone is trembling with impatience, as Bertrand Dupic, the organizer of the event, who has been carrying on this tradition since 2017, points out: “ We were itching to wait. Especially since last year, we canceled the three-day event. We were asked to check the health passes which was impossible. This year it is possible and we are very happy. »

While the OFNIS get into the water and test the buoyancy of their creations, it’s the turn of the Gaillards du Pertuis to play traditional sea shanties to give courage to the competitors. This year, the race features ten UFOs constructed from scrap materials and brimming with comedic imagination.

Unidentified objects but studied concepts!

Jeannot, the captain of the OFNI Ré Olienne, explains the concept of his team: “Our OFNI serves as a prototype for our high environmental quality project. The idea is to install a wind turbine on all the steeples of churches in France. We use the mast, we put the wind turbine. The roosters of the steeples are no longer useful today, so we can replace them with a wind turbine! And since there are 27,000 steeples in France, there is plenty! We recovered old canoes, an old door to cut out the Ile de Ré, old cabinet planks to make the bell tower and old sailors to paddle! »

The OFNI Mario, which looks like a large car floating on two large cans, includes in its crew Luigi and Mario, doped with mojette, while the OFNI Transat Antique floats at the good will of the goddess Thalassa, placed on his deckchair fixed with wood on snowboards.

The Sauniers Pirates’ OFNI is made from a bathtub attached to sailboards, but its crew has a boarding bay to fend off opponents. However, the UFO Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea thinks to secure its victory thanks to a band of buccaneers armed with water pistols. The latter must allow their two seahorse captains to move forward quietly thanks to a swinging system with blades, attached to a ping pong table placed on windsurf boards.

The OFNI Mahara (flying fish in Tahitian) is “a revisited Polynesian boat that works with elbow grease” confides Maël, its captain. This creation made from decorated surfboards and dried branches is led by a quartet of children adorned with flowers. The equally colorful UFO Les Rheta Minions features palettes and boards doused in green and yellow paint. Two balloons at the back of the machine guarantee its balance.

The OFNI The Water Formula is held together by windsurf masts. All the provisions of the crew are in the muscles while Pastaga, an UFO built from a pallet and lots of cans, depends on a good reserve of pastis to be able to feed its members throughout the race.

Finally, the OFNI La fille du Pêcheur, born from a team building idea of ​​the fishmonger of the Ars market Françoise Caillaud, floats thanks to a truck gallery with buoys fixed underneath. Beware, sirens are on board. Their fearsome song can confuse other contestants.

© Iona Bermon – Ré olienne, with a very studied concept, wins the race.

Re Wind turbine win the race

It is 6 p.m. sharp when the race begins. Already the filibusters spray the UFO Pastaga, the goddess Thalassa falls from her throne backwards into the water and the UFO of the Rheta Minions does not manage to leave the starting area. Screams ring out, Ré Olienne quickly takes the lead with the Pirates Sauniers hot on their heels. It is this floating object running 100% on renewable energy that wins the race, followed by the OFNI Pastaga. The crowd cheers them along with Françoise and Muriel who finally manage to synchronize their rowing strokes aboard the Rheta Minions to set off for a buoy on the other side of the basin. Their determination will earn them the price of courage because, as Françoise points out: “We never give up! »

During the awards ceremony, the gold medal is awarded to the OFNI Mahara who managed to move forward with grace and efficiency until the end. The “aperitif” prize is awarded to Pastaga, the Jules Verne prize to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and many more to reward everyone’s creativity.

The event ends with a speech by the Mayor who congratulates the competitors and thanks the Association d’Information Arsaise, the Association of Users of the Port of Ars, the Cercle Nautique d’Ars en Ré as well as all the organizers , the dancers, the Gaillards and the Godilleurs. Finally, Michel Lardeux, the host of the games, pronounces his last sentence: “Ars-en-Ré, always higher, always stronger! ».

*Read our portrait on realahune.fr and in Ré à la Hune n°245

Iona Bermon

Leave a Comment