With a little more than three months until the start of festivities for the 9th edition of the Normandy Channel Race, the Class40 skippers are now jostling to be included on the entry list.
21 boats are already signed up for this great Anglo-Norman classic and its promise of full-on, close-contact racing both offshore and hugging the coasts of Normandy, England and Ireland.
With nearly a dozen more projects being finalised as we go to press, the 2018 vintage is shaping up to be particularly promising. As has been the case since the creation in 2010 of this fine event setting sail from and finishing in Caen, it’s impossible to even attempt a wager on the podium given how evenly matched this Class40 fleet is from one edition to the next. Though the most recent boats are naturally showing great promise, the complexity and the diversity of the weather conditions encountered in the English Channel, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea mean that the cards are constantly being reshuffled for all the participants, guaranteeing an action-packed race, laced with upset and drama.
They swear by it…
It has to be said that there are a few more Norman sailors every year who sign up to compete in a race they cherish on home waters. This year there will be no fewer than 7 such duos gunning for glory in front of a home crowd on 27 May 2018. Among them Halvard Mabire and his British partner Miranda Merron will be setting sail from Caen for the 7th time aboard their Campagne de France, which is still very much in contention for a spot on the podium. They’ll be keeping a close eye on another familiar face from the event, Louis Duc from Caen and his gleaming Carac, which was launched last year and surely has to be in with a chance of victory in a year that rounds off with the famous Route du Rhum race. Olivier Cardin and his stellar “Région Normandie” are also set to excel on a playing field they know like the back of their hand. Equally, local lass Claire Pruvost, is giving up her Figaro this year and is delighted to be back on a Class40 in an event she first discovered with Louis Duc.
Another stalwart from the Norman sailing scene, Marc Lepesqueux is back for more from the Normandy Channel Race, after taking part in the very first edition back in 2010. From nearby Granville, Nicolas Jossier will be making an eagerly awaited comeback to the class and to Caen. Last but not least, representing the north bank of the River Seine, Dieppe-based sailor Christophe Coatnan will be supporting fellow skipper Fabrice Troprès aboard the Pogo 40 S2 No.113, which he knows by heart.
Who will succeed Phil Sharp?
We still remember now the epic Anglo-Norman battle of the 2017 edition, which saw Jersey-based sailor Phil Sharp (Imerys) ultimately take the crown. Since that time he has been on the search for new craft but the brilliant runner-up, Jean Galfione (Serenis Consulting), is delighted to be back to confirm his status and will this year be supported by the master sailmaker Alan Pennaneac’h.
The last edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre back in the autumn revealed the Class40’s new star players of course. Naturally our thoughts go out here to the two driving forces in the transatlantic race, V and B skippered by Maxime Sorel and Aina Enfance et Avenir skippered by Aymeric Chappelier. The two men will continue their mano a mano here in the English Channel and the Irish Sea but we’ll have to wait till the race finish to see whether the young sailor from Saint Malo will once again have the edge.
In fact, Saint Malo figures highly in this Normandy Channel Race since Loic Féquet will also be keen to defend the town’s honour on his formidable Botin Talés II design (winner in 2016), a combination that it will be hard to keep off the podium. Another potential favourite from Saint Malo is young Luke Berry at the helm of the latest generation Class40, the Mach 40 No.153 Groupe Lamotte, though he’ll have to tame his steed in a very short space of time to pull this off. Another Figaro worthy and native of Carentan, who learnt to sail in Ouistreham, Fred Duthil will be sharing his vast experience with the Belgian sailor Jonas Gerckens.
François Lassort, winner in the Vintage category, is overjoyed at the prospect of racing aboard his venerable No.42, an Akilaria built in 2006.
Another much awaited return is that of Nicolas Troussel. The 2015 winner will take the start in Caen at the helm of his brand new Manuard design Corum.
In this Route du Rhum year, Guadeloupe will also be represented in style in Normandy by a fireman from nearby Les Abymes, Carl Chipotel, who will be seconded by one Sidney Gavignet, who naturally needs no introduction.
A sizeable crop of female sailors too…
Year on year, there are an increasing number of female sailors competing in the Normandy Channel Race and 2018 will be no exception. Indeed, in addition to the previously mentioned Miranda Merron and Claire Pruvost, we must note the participation of the Italian sailor Carolina Vojtisek, and a certain Morgane Poupon, daughter of French sailing legend Philippe, who is fleshing out her experience as a professional skipper off the coast of Ushuaia with 13 roundings of Cape Horn with some competitive Class40 racing.
An ever more pronounced international flavor
The Quai Vendeuvre will once again resonate to the sound of new accents from all over the sailing planet. In addition to the now familiar Brits will be Italian, Belgian as well as Japanese sailors, with 2 skippers from the land of the rising sun aboard the Class40 Kiho.
more info: normandy-race.com
by Sirius Events