Photo: Miranda Merron/40 Degrees

Mini Transat winner takes the lead

As the Normandy Channel Race Class 40s head along the south coast of the UK

Monday May 17th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

The ten Class 40s competing in the Normandy Channel Race are making good progress along the south coast of England. In a little over 24 hours of racing, they’ve covered 200 miles. The initial stages of this competition involved a high speed sprint across the Channel, but things proved much more difficult as they attempted to sail down the Solent.

At the latest sched Destination Dunkerque is leading 9.9 miles ahead of 40 Degrees and 10.3 miles ahead of Moonpalace. The fleet in this first Normandy Channel Race has now split into three groups, with 40 miles separating the first and last competitors.

Following a very good start to the race, Dunkirk sailors Thomas Ruyant and Tanguy Leglatin are in pole position offshore off Portland Bill. They have a slender lead over Halvard Mabire and Peter Harding on 40 Degrees, who are tacking their way down the coast with Appart City. Meantime the crew of Moonpalace are adopting an intermediate position.

At present the boat are attempting to make headway upwind in 10 to 12 knots of breeze, while they negotiate varying degrees of current and they are typically staying close to the shore where there is less current.

Tanguy De Lamotte and Jean Galfione, Nick Legatt and Philippa Hutton-Squire, are 20 miles behind the leaders, struggling to extract themselves from the fickle conditions along their stretch of the English coast. Tanguy De Lamotte admitted earlier that their electronics had packed up.

At the back of the pack it was a tough morning for the boats skippered by Marc Lepesqueux, Jacques Fournier, Christophe Coatnoan and Andrew Dawson which arrived in the Solent a little too late, resulting in them being unable to make headway against the ebb tide. Early this afternoon though they were back on track.

Having left Caen yesterday at 1400, the Normandy Channel Race competitors powered off towards the island of Saint-Marcouf. By early evening they’d covered 37 miles and rounded the first mark after a few hours on the wind. Destination Dunkerque, skippered by Thomas Ruyant and Tanguy Leglatin had pulled into the lead. The winner of last year's Transat 6.50 couldn’t conceal his delight as he crossed the English Channel. “We’re sailing under small spinnaker. There is 17 knots of wind and we’re making 12 knots of boat speed. It’s going to be a beautiful night”.

At lunchtime today Ruyant added: “We’re trundling along against the current right now so we’re having to work on our trimming so as to find some decent speed. In the afternoon we’ll have the current with us.

"At the start we managed to get ahead of our rivals. We were keen to be in phase with the current from the outset in Caen. There was an initial tricky section at Barfleur and then another in the Solent. The next stage in the proceedings is likely to be difficult. We’ve already slept a fair amount so as to be fresh for tonight’s activities”.

Roeland Franssens and Michel Kleinjans on Moonpalace were hot on their heels aboard their Pogo 40S, as were Peter Harding and his co-skipper Halvard Mabire aboard 40 Degrees. The competitors spent the night reaching across the English Channel towards the Isle of Wight at pace until the daybreak.

Halvard Mabire and Peter Harding report from 40 Degrees

We had a reasonable start and were well placed all the way to the St Marcouf Islands, which we rounded in 3rd place behind the Flying Dutchmen. But then off Barfleur, we decided to stop for some lobster, and caught a huge pot on the rudders. As there is never only one disaster at a time, it happened while I was on the bow re-leading a sheet while Peter was helming, and as we had to furl in rather a hurry, one of the snap shackles released itself from the gennaker clew and we lost the sheet. While we were sorting out our mess, Novedia, Appartcity and the South Africans took the opportunity to sail past us. I hope that they at least appreciated the spectacle, and I shall have to visit them later for the collection.

When mistakes are made, they must be put right, and so we worked studiously all night to regain a few places. Apparently reaching is for the hard-headed, so that suits me down to the ground. We timed our passage through the Solent perfectly, tide with us all the way. Magnificent sunrise off Yarmouth, and as Peter says, a gorgeous morning.

All is well on board, despite numerous issues with the electronics. Peter managed miraculously to get a cockpit display working, which is good news, as we have to keep an eye on our personal stock market the whole time (our stock market consists of the number of miles left to race, and whether those are going up or down. Basically a tool which tells us whether we should buy or sell one sail or another).

With all the fun and games, I’m afraid I was a little behind with my homework, and so I am sending you this report rather late. Oh well, I’ll have to do two hours of detention on Wednesday.

A tantot, de 40 Degrees
Peter & Halvard


Tanguy de LaMotte takes a swim shortly after the start to clear his appendages




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