Normandy Channel Race : An event taking off!

2010 was synonymous with the launch of this new demanding race, and it proved to be a big hit among the first participants. 2011 isn’t yet a fully matured year, but with an exceptionally high quality competitive line-up that is virtually double the size, it does reflect the interest that the concept inspires with racers from the Class40 and beyond. The event’s image has been strengthened and developed along its initial lines: an international meeting, a demanding race and course, an event carried by the Norman territory with numerous events on shore to welcome skippers.

It would certainly be hard to call the 2011 winner who will succeed Thomas Ruyant – Destination Dunkerque -, winner of the Route du Rhum the same year!

The sports round-up:

    20 entries on 15 April
    18 boats setting off on 9 May (10 competing boats in 2010)
    19 international skippers
    17 French skippers
    9 nationalities
    5 crews registered in the Global Ocean Race, Class 40 Round the World, setting out from Majorca this September. See No.s 101/102/107/90/30 on the list.
    6 Norman projects (No.101/53/60/59/107/30)
    2 female crews – 2 mixed crews (No.20/90/101/23)
    2 crews with disabled skippers (Damien Seguin – Bruno Jourdren)
    All the boat types, architects and yards represented: Akilaria RC 2, Pogo 40 S2, Kiwi 40 FC (First race by the 1st Class40 Farr design), Rogers Class40, Pogo 40…
    2 new boats which have never been racing (106 and 107), 4 numbers among the last 10 class allocations (101 / 102/ 106 / 107)

In such circumstances it’s hard to provide an exhaustive description of all the crews and their nautical careers (a presentation of each crew will be available on the website within the week). All the various facets of offshore and inshore racing are represented in the event, where the nautical and cultural melting pot will doubtless give rise to a merciless battle at sea.

Already honing their weapons are the great ocean racers and the low latitude mile hunters: Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron with multiple transatlantic crossings and circumnavigations to their credit; Sébastien Audigane announced as co-skipper to Tanguy de Lamotte this week (the former winner of the 1st Class40 transatlantic race, La Solidaire du Chocolat in 2009) in the former’s capacity as a major Jules Verne Trophy specialist; solo round the world sailor Joe Harris; Boris Hermann, winner of the first circumnavigation of the globe; Josh Hall with his multiple planet roundings (Boc Challenge, Vendée Globe ); Hannah Jenner and Anna-Maria Renken, who between them have covered some 200,000 miles; Michel Kleinjans who is returning to the Class40 round the world in September, as well as Nick Legatt, former crew on the catamaran PlayStation on its round the world record!

The determined inshore and offshore racers of the Figaro class will also be making their presence felt: Dominic Vittet, former winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, with an impressive track record of races and transatlantics spanning some 20 years (8 AG2Rs, 13 Tour de France à la Voiles); Fabien Delahaye, the young Norman hope, 1st rookie in the Solitaire in 2009, 4th in the French solo championship 2010; Marc Lepesqueux, Figaro sailor and Class40 specialist; Eric Péron, skipper of Macif on the Figaro circuit; Damien Seguin with a very fine track record in both handicapped and able-bodied sailing, as well as Yohann Richomme, a talented Figaro rookie and a familiar face in the series’ top spots.

Equally, the Mini culture (reference to the Mini 6.50, and the Mini Transat (Charente Maritime/ Bahia), the real cornerstone in the career of major racers of the future is very much in evidence: Pierre-Yves Lautrou, the famous ocean blogger from France’s Express, who has recently made the switch to the Class40 after 10 years in the Mini; Jorg Riechers who has also hailed from the Mini; Nicolas Boidevezi still participating in the Mini circuit and for whom this will be his first Class40 race, as well as Caroline Vielle, who will be sailing with Stéphanie Alran.

There will be some inshore racing specialists on the water too. Indeed Bruno Jourdren, Etienne David, Philippa Hutton–Squire, Francesco Piva and Zoccoli Luca will each be bringing along their experience of some highly competitive dinghy sailing, the Melges 24s, the Farr30s, the America’s Cup Classes, as well as the major European offshore classics.

Those accustomed to Class40 races in Europe will also be keen to demonstrate their knowledge of the craft: Christophe Coatnoan (Route du Rhum 2010 ) and Sébastien Figue, Andrew Dawson and Rune Aasberg (Route du Rhum 2010), Stuart Dodd and Steve Kennington, Mathias Blumencron, Jean Galfione the famous pole vaulter who is returning to sailing in this event, as well as Axel Strauss (Route du Rhum 2010), a familiar figure on this craft and a professional skipper with a reference of some 95,000 sea miles to back him up.

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