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Normandy Channel Race - Day 5

by Sirius Evenements 17 Sep 11:11 PDT 17 September 2020
Normandy Channel Race 2020 © Jean-Marie Liot / NCR

The home straight in this 11th Normandy Channel Race has begun. Whilst a large part of the fleet is now powering up the English Challenge towards Ouistreham via the Cotentin peninsula, for now it's impossible to predict the future winner of this edition.

The competitors are battling along in 25-30 knots of NE'ly breeze with the added hassle of having to contend with springs. Leading the way from Wolf Rock, Crédit Mutuel (158) has yielded the top spot to Banque du Léman (159), which has opted for an offshore option. As usual, the suspense over the leader board is palpable once more. For the moment, the first Class40s are expected off Ouistreham from 13:00 GMT on Friday.

Are we set to witness the same unbearably tense match races right to the last second as in previous years? Response tomorrow afternoon...

The Normandy Channel Race's reputation as a demanding and difficult race needs no further explanation. After 4 days of exhausting tactical fighting in the light airs blowing across the English Channel and the Celtic Sea, the biggest hurdle awaits the 21 remaining crews in the race to loop the loop. With the Venturi effect of the English Channel creating a strong 25-30-knot NE'ly air flow, the skippers got a thorough blasting as they rounded Land's End today. It was Ian Lipinski and Julien Pulvé aboard their Class40 Crédit Mutuel (158), who were first to bear the brunt of it.

"To make the finish line offshore of Ouistreham, we're in for a diet of upwind conditions and a series of tacks. For now, the sea and the current are in the same direction, but we await the turn of the tide with a great deal of trepidation because we'll be punching into wind over tide", explained the skipper from Lorient at today's radio link-up.

Indeed, the combination of strong breeze and a strong 4-knot current in a face-off will favour the formation of heavy seas. As a result, the competitors will have to strike a balance between taking shelter, in a bay where possible, during a rising tide (wind over tide) and hunting down more air offshore during an ebbing tide (wind and current in the same direction), which is synonymous with flatter and hence more practicable seas.

From now on then, the great dilemma for the sailors will involve covering their direct rivals, whilst protecting their boat from any damage that may compromise their sprint for the finish, a feat that Class40s Lamotte Module Création (153) and Milai (101) were sadly not able to pull off in the past few hours, both of them forced to retire from the race.

After Redman (161) at the start of the race as far as Wolf Rock, Everial (147) on the climb up the Celtic Sea as far as Tuskar Rock, then Crédit Mutuel (158) on the drop back down to Lizard Point, it is now the turn of Banque du Léman (159) to take the hotseat at the front of the pack. However, the hierarchy has never been so uncertain in this edition. There's still very much everything to play for with the tacking battle raging to the south-east of Lizard Point and the game is still wide open. This final sprint in the 2020 edition of the Normandy Channel Race promises to be truly breath-taking...

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