Match race continues in the Normandy Channel Race
The Normandy Channel Race continues to be a two horse race with Campagne de France crewed by Halvard Mabire and Merron, in pole position for some 48 hours now, but just 1.4 miles ahead of Concise 2 sailed by Ned Collier-Wakefield and the Artemis Offshore Academy's Sam Goodchild as they duck the tide heading east along the north Brittany coast. They in turn have pulled out a 25 mile lead over Jean Galfione and Eric Péron on Talanta.
The match race between the lead should conclude off Hermanville-sur-Mer on Saturday evening.
Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron, who probably have more Class40 miles between them than anyone else in the Normandy Channel Race fleet and come straight from victory in the Quebec–Saint Malo have done well to maintain the lead despite the relentless onslaught from their young British rivals.
“They’re not making any tactical mistakes,” observed Sam Goodchild of the leaders. However Concise 2 have matched them almost tack for tack and still have their eye on first place.
Last night, the leaders crossed a ridge and extracted themselves with relative ease as they passed back into the English Channel on their return journey from the Irish coast. Significantly, off Bishop Rock, they managed to latch onto a light easterly breeze before the rest of the fleet, and had just enough wind to continue making headway across to the French side of the Channel. Once they closed on the north coast of France they have since been rock hopping past the Ile au Moine and Perros Guirec.
Halvard Mabire described the conditions: “The weather’s good. We have seven knots of northeastly. Last night we managed to slip below the zone of high pressure. Right now we’re compelled to cover the English, who aren’t far behind. Since Land’s End, I haven’t necessarily agreed with the route they’re taking, but we’re obliged to cover them. There is little difference in speed between us. It really comes down to our tactics.”
From Concise, Sam Goodchild added: “We’re doing our best to catch Campagne de France, but they’re tough. The win could go to anyone”.
On third placed Talanta, Eric Péron reported: “We had a classic passage across the ridge. The first to escape the zone immediately hit some pressure. That was what happened to the leaders and for us too in relation to Phoenix Europe Express. The game doesn’t quite have the same appeal now. The tacks we make up to Barfleur are pretty much set in stone. I reckon the positions we have right now will be the same at the finish."
Talanta has a comfortable but not insurmountable lead over Phoenix Europe Express, skippered by Yannick Bestaven and Julien Pulvé, who are in turn being chased by the Norwegian duo Rune Aasberg and Simen Løvgren on Solo, while Jasmine Flyer is right back in contention with Australian Scott Cavanough and Thibault Reinhart in overdrive and Marc Lepesqueux and Eric Defert on Les Conquérants–Caen La Mer.
Behind them, Earwen sailed by Catherine Pourre and Goulven Royer and Sébastien Rogues and Dominic Vittet's Eole Génération GDF Suez has only just broken away from the British coast this afternoon. In contrast to the leaders, they spent many an hour becalmed in the thick of the ridge, while having to content strong current. It hasn’t been plain sailing for anyone though and Sam Goodchild was keen to rename the event the Normandy Upwind Race given how much this point of sail has dominated play in the light airs.
Unfortunately there has been another retirement from the race in the form of Masai, sailed by Stéphane Le Diraison and Ben Korner. As former Mini sailor Le Diraison explained: "We’ve opted to retire from the race after determinedly battling against the current for five hours. We’ve slipped backwards for the umpteenth time and we have to be at work on Monday morning. As such it makes more sense to retire, albeit with a heavy heart as we’re competitors. We still have too far to go if we’re to stand a chance of being at work in good shape”.