In the Normandy Channel Race, the Class 40 in the colours of the German publisher 'Mare', skippered by Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur, took control of the fleet overnight. Natives of Germany and France’s Picardy region, the duo boasts a 1.5-mile lead over the former leaders of the competition, Nicolas Jossier and Alexandre Toulorge.
Mare in action during the 2013 Normandy Channel Race
On the third step of the current podium, 'Campagne de France' skippered by the Norman-English pairing of Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron, is hanging on in there, but is battling for supremacy with 'Geodis' helmed by reporter-racers Amedeo / Tripon. 'Obportus 3' is bringing up the rear and rounded the virtual waypoint some hours ago. The winners are expected to cross the finish line at around 0100 hours local time on Thursday.
At 0315 hours local time this morning, 'Mare' gained control of the competition. The red and white Mach 40, a latest generation boat designed by Samuel Manuard, was really able to show what she was made of on a reach, a point of sail which the competitors experienced during the Channel crossing and will enjoy again as far as the finish line. A 25-knot south-westerly wind is continuing to push them along and the top four Class 40s are expected off Guernsey at around 1400 hours. As they make headway along the Norman coast, past Raz Blanchard and Barfleur, they’ll have a favourable current until 1800 hours. At the very front of the pack, there will be two duels underway as 'Mare' and 'Made in Normandie', a Kiwi 40 skippered by Nicolas Jossier and Alexandre Toulorge, are sailing neck and neck, whilst 'Campagne de France', a Pogo S2, and 'Geodis', an Akilaria RC2, are both in contact. The racers are throwing everything they have into the battle and victory could go either way!
There is also a thrilling battle for fifth place. For now 'Groupe Picoty', skippered by Jean-Christophe Caso and Aymeric Chappellier, is putting up a great performance, but the crew is under pressure from the Germans on 'Red' skippered by Mathias Blumencron and Boris Herrmann, just 1-mile astern. 'Momentum Ocean Racing', helmed by Briton Dan Dytch and American Emma Creighton are also in hot pursuit in what is proving to be a match within a match! Ensconced in eight place the crew of 'Phoenix Europe Carac', who’ve sailed a superb race, are sure to have their eye on the seventh spot. However, they’ll have to watch their backs as the manager of the company Brieuc Maisonneuve and London-based sailor Ned Collier–Wakefield will be plotting their revenge and making the most of the reaching speed of their new Akilaria RC3. 'Phesheya Racing', in penultimate position, is currently dropping back down to Land’s End whilst 'Obportus 3' skippered by the valiant Olivier Roussey and Philippe Burger is 270 miles from deliverance.
Philippa Hutton-Squire and Pip Hare, skippers of the Class 40 'Phesheya Racing': 'Wet, bumpy and very choppy seas. Banging up and slamming down - not too much fun'.
Louis Duc, skipper of the Class 40 'Phoenix Europe – Carac': Thank you to the organisation for not sending us into the storm and enabling us to sidestep a spell of upwind sailing in 40 knots of breeze. Tittle-tattlers may well say that sailors have turned into women, no longer wanting to sail in the rough weather. In reality the reverse is true. Women have developed a great deal in terms of seamanship. Proof of this comes from Sylvie Viant, Race Director, who took the decision not to take us to Fastnet or Tuskar Rock, where the return leg was looking very tough and boat-breaking. Before dumping our fine Phoenix Europe spinnaker as we went around the Isle of Wight, in our moment of glory the sail blew out in a gentle puff of air... that hampered our progress today between Land’s End and the passage mark. The passage across the Solent wasn’t very successful, but we’re very happy with our boat. We have confirmation that ours is a weapon capable of teasing the front runners...'
Jean-Christophe Caso, skipper of the Class 40 'Groupe Picoty': 'A slight change of programme on this third day of racing with a shortened course. The weather is forecast to be really bad to very bad in the Irish Sea, so there’s absolutely no point in sending us into the lion’s den. We’re into a routine with life on board and rest has been the main goal today, after a fairly good start to the race. Fatigue got the better of us last night where the different sail changes accompanied by quite a lot of wind caused us to drop off the pace a little, which is what has opened up this difference this morning. The front runners are barely 10 miles ahead, so we’re not letting up! We’re in contact with two boats, which we can see, and we’re on the attack.'
Normandy Channel Race website