Normandy Channel Race - Class 40s full speed ahead

2013 Normandy Channel Race
In the Normandy Channel Race, in the space of 24 hours, those competing have covered 150 miles, a good average for the Class 40s. From nearby Granville, Nicolas Jossier and Cherbourg-based Alexandre Toulorge, aboard 'Made in Normandie', are neck and neck at the front of the fleet with Bruno Jourdren and Thomas Ruyant on 'Norma Concept – Le Pal' and 'Groupe Picoty' skippered by Jean-Christophe Caso and Aymeric Chappellier.

The sailors have been swallowing up the miles since yesterday’s start of the NCR 2013 at 1700 hours local time. The pace is a lot quicker than in the 2012 edition!

Tight starts - 2015 Valmadre Series and the Pantaenius Western Australian State IRC Championships
© Rick Steuart
Despite a slight drop in speed on rounding the Saint Marcouf islands, the fleet is making good speed. It is already making headway along the South coast of England, with both the Solent and the Needles in its wake. Right now they’re setting a course for Land’s End, the most south-westerly tip of England.

In this particular game of speed, but also and above all their positioning in relation to their adversaries, upwind and in the current, it’s the Normans on 'Made in Normandie', a Kiwi 40, who are in the best form. Nicolas Jossier and Alexandre Toulorge, familiar with close contact coastal races thanks to a number of participations in the Solitaire du Figaro, have been the quickest out of the starting blocks, with Louis Duc and Stéphanie Alran on 'Phoenix Europe Carac', first to extract themselves from the strong meandering current as they punched the tide off the Cotentin headland.

Keeping a bit of westing in their course last night for the Channel crossing, they’ve even extended a little on the circuit’s heavyweights. Nicolas and Alexandre are sailing together for the first time in competition mode and in a Class 40. It’s their very first Normandy Channel Race!

In the early hours of Monday morning, the Isle of Wight was within sight. The leaders protected themselves from the current and in a ‘medium’ wind managed to enter the Solent at a good lick, despite having to zigzag their way upwind. This afternoon 'Groupe Picoty' and 'Norma Concept – Le Pal' were in attack mode off the Needles, flirting with some of the region’s sand banks. The south-westerly breeze retained the same pressure, dishing up around 15 to 20 knots of wind. The Rogers’ design 'Red', helmed by Germans Boris Herrmann and Mathias Blumencron, who had a great start to the race, were in fourth place.


Off Poole, the top 10 are within 4-miles of each other, so conditions are reminiscent of an inshore race at the start of this event. Though brisk, the weather conditions are pleasant, but a front generated by a depression offshore of Ireland will drum up some sporty conditions as the sailors make their way westwards!

Catherine Pourre, skipper of the Class 40 Earwen: 'We’ve just left the Solent in our wake via the northerly channel at the Needles. The fleet has bunched up together again, with the backrunners currently able to play catch-up. We’re on a beat in around 19 knots of breeze, which is nice as the sea is calm. Three Class 40s managed to pull out all the stops last night and open up a lead. On the passage through Saint Marcouf, we didn’t have the forecast conditions so there wasn’t too much wind'.

Christophe Coatnan, skipper of the Class 40 'Groupe Partouche': 'The night kicked off with the rounding of Saint Marcouf in light airs. We took refuge inshore so as to be less affected by the current. During the Channel crossing, we repositioned ourselves in the middle of the pack. Right now we’re on a beat making our way out of the Solent and we’ve managed to get some rest'.


Jean-Christophe Caso, skipper of the Class 40 'Groupe Picoty': 'We remained very vigilant last night, as the situation was complicated, with a number of potential pitfalls. Little Louis, skipper of 'Phoenix', pulled off a superb manoeuvre at Barfleur. He was the first to begin the Channel crossing thanks to a fine inshore option. For our part, we were hunting down all the veins of wind and came off pretty well in the end. After that, last night, during the Channel crossing, we were focused on our trajectories in particular. Five minutes ago, we didn’t respond at the radio session as we were close to the sand banks in the Needles and had to be careful of the breakers. 'Made In Normandie' is 0.5 miles from our position. 'Norma Concept' is just to windward of us.'

Miranda Merron, co-skipper of the Class 40 'Campagne de France': 'It was a complicated night, especially at Saint Marcouf, where 'Mare' got the better of us. Since then we’ve been on the hunt in the Solent, punching into a lot of tide under mainsail and solent. I’m currently looking at the grib files and we’re due for a Force 8 seemingly'.

Normandy Channel Race website