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Normandy Channel Race Day 4: Rounding the Tuskar Rock

by Sirius Events 22 May 15:06 PDT 22 May 2019
Normandy Channel Race 2019 © David Branigan / Oceansport

At around 15:00 hours French time this Wednesday afternoon, two protagonists rounded the Tuskar Rock course mark, the iconic summit that rewards an ascent of the north face of the Normandy Channel Race.

The Italo-Hispanic pairing of Pietro Luciani and Pablo Santurde del Arco at the controls of Eärendil, had a lead of just less than 10 minutes over Aïna Enfance et Avenir skippered by Aymeric Chappellier and Pierre Brasseur at the foot of the legendary lighthouse. Uncertainty reigns then as to the future winner of this 10thedition of the Normandy Channel Race. Next up is the homeward leg after a slight detour via Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

They took 24 hours 15 minutes and 51 seconds to negotiate the Celtic Sea from the south-west tip of England up to Tuskar Rock. Eärendil and Aïna Enfance et Avenir have stuck to each other like glue throughout. When one tacked, so too did the other, and vice versa, ultimately rounding the Irish lighthouse at 15:00 hours and 15:09 hours respectively, with the advantage going to the black and white Class40 145. With boat speeds bordering on 8/9 knots, theyre now stretching ever further from the rest of the fleet, which is struggling to make headway at 2/3 knots.

This chasing fleet has actually split in two. Whilst the bulk of the crews, led by the surprising Class40 number 65 Yoda, skippered by Franz Bouvet and Sylvain Michelet (3rd for now), are trying their luck on a beat along the rhumb line (most direct route), two exploratory competitors have gone for a more extreme option towards the Bristol Channel in the quest for some coastal breeze, which they hope will enable them to cross in front of the bows of Yoda, Cape Racing Yachts and Beijaflore further along the racetrack.

The weather forecast for the coming hours should finally favour the chasing pack and cause the head of the fleet to stall somewhat. Indeed, the current NNWly wind will switch round to the south-west, although it will continue to be light. However, it is set to provide a welcome boost to the 11 Class 40s still picking their way up to Tuskar Rock after a predominantly upwind slog so far. It is within this context that the leaders will likely cross tacks with the rest of the fleet off the Bristol Channel as they continue their descent towards the Norman coast.

As we go to press, the Normandy Channel Race fleet of 2019 is still complete after 3 days of racing and significantly there are no retirements to report, which is a first in the long and colourful history of the event.

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