The start of the seventh edition of the Normandy Channel Race will kick off on Sunday 11 September 2016 at 15:00 GMT offshore of Ouistreham. Created back in 2010 by Manfred Ramspacher the event has been quick to win acclaim.
Indeed, every edition has not only crowned a rising star of international offshore racing, but also given rise to some fantastic on-the-water tussles throughout what is a fascinating course, spanning over 1,000 miles close to the coastlines of Normandy, England and Ireland.
A recipe based on the very highest level of close contact racing, which each year draws in a few more candidates from within a highly popular Class40, there will be no fewer than thirty or so boats at the start. This is a record entry for a race of this class, with the participants hoping to succeed Nicolas Troussel, last year’s winner aboard Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Elite, co-skippered by Félix Pruvot. Among those vying for the top spots will be leading lights in the sport, victors in the recent transoceanic meets, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus, winner of The Transat, and the Spanish crew on Talès II, who triumphed in the Transat Québec Saint Malo. The great appeal of the race is the week of double-handed racing, the great course around a nautical stadium formed by the English Channel, and the stellar international line-up.
Nine overseas crews
Norwegian, Dutch, German, British, Swiss, Belgian, as well as Italian and Spanish… all of them inspired by the prospect of battling it out amidst the pitfalls of the English Channel. Often relegated to the skirt tails of the French heavyweights when it comes to offshore racing, in the Class 40, the leading roles are very much up for grabs to those who dare to dream.
Naturally, we include here the German sailor Joerg Riechers, winner of the event in 2013 with Pierre Brasseur, who is delighted to be returning to the fray this year in the company of compatriot, Robert Stanjek. Briton Phil Sharp, third in The Transat and the brilliant winner of the Route du Rhum in 2006, is another adversary whose talent needs no introduction. Or how about the Spaniards, Pablo Santurde and Fidel Turienzo, who demonstrated impressive control in July’s Transat Quebec Saint Malo with Gonzalo Botin at the helm of the pacy Talés II? The winning boat from the Route du Rhum 2014 certainly inspires the utmost respect in the expert hands of the sailors from Santander.
The Normans too…
A race emanating from Norman shores, with a warm reception for one and all at the heart of the city of Caen and a start and finish decided in the mouth of the River Orne, the Normandy Channel Race has a very special appeal for the local sailors.
This is evidenced by the entry from Norman Halvard Mabire, teamed up with Miranda Merron, (Campagne de France), who will be taking the start of this race for the sixth time. They’ll be hooking up with some familiar playmates from nearby Granville, Cherbourg and Le Havre, in the form of Louis Duc (Carac), Nicolas Jossier (Région Normandie), Brieuc Maisonneuve, Fabien Delahaye, Manuel Cousin (Groupe Setin) and Bertrand Lemée (Le Simple Vé). All of these are seasoned sailors, who are very well versed in the specificities of the English Channel, and will be keen to excel ‘on their home waters’.
The Class40: sport and spectacle guaranteed
Alongside the swankier, well-funded classes like the Imoca and Ultimes, the Class40 continues to attract an increasing number of sailors keen to set sail with more manageable budgets at the sharp end of offshore racing, of which it makes up the bulk of the line-up in any mixed fleets.
In a very short space of time, the Class40s have shot forward, bringing with them the initial allure of a reliable boat that translates into today’s oceanic racing beasts. The last edition of the Transat Quebec Saint Malo once again demonstrated all that these ‘little 12.18m bombs’ are capable of in the hands of expert and enterprising crews. Whether they’re from a so-called older generation, such as that of Carac launched in 2008, or the modern Talés II built in 2013, all of them have broken records for peak speed or distance covered in 24 hours. For the latter, the current record stands at 373 miles covered in a single day by the Botin design, Talés II.
In terms of peak speed, a number of competitors have surfed down the long swell of the North Atlantic at over 27 knots. The Normandy Channel Race, synonymous with changeable weather, suspense and high performance, will give this dynamic class the opportunity to show just what it’s made of… whatever the conditions.
more info …. normandy-race.com
by Denis van den Brink