Normandy Channel Race preview

James Boyd Photography /
We look at the form for the 16 Class 40s setting sail today
The Normandy Challenge Race gets underway from Caen in northern France today for 16 doublehanded Class 40s. Organised by Manfred Ramspacher’s company Sirius Evenements, the Normandy Challenge Race is the Class 40 successor to the IMOCA’s one time 1000 Milles de Calais. Once the boats have finished negotiating the canal up from Caen to Ouistreham, the start is due to take place at 1400 local time and there will be a quick triangle around the Rade de Caen before the boats set off on the course that is approximately 975 miles long. The first mark is to the east of the Cherbourg peninsula before the boats head north across the Channel where they must pass through the Solent, leaving the Isle of Wight to port. They then sail down the south coast of the UK, around Land’s End across to the Tuskar Rock off the southeast coast of Ireland (off Wexford), then west along the south coast of Ireland to the Fastnet Rock, before they start their return journey. They then come back around Land’s End and cross the Channel to leave Guernsey to port and then up around the Cherbourg peninsula back to the finish line off Ouistreham. The course is slightly different from last year when boats had to sail around Les Sept Iles off the north coast of Brittany. With the present forecast the leaders are expected to take around six days and during this time they can expect the whole gamut of conditions. The start is set to be upwind into 25 knot westerlies followed by a fast reach across the Channel before the wind nicely backs into the southwest ready for a beat down the south coast of the UK and then...guess what???...the wind veers northwest on the nose again and drops for the crossing of the Celtic Sea.