17 teams for the Normandy Channel Race
17 Class40s are set to compete in this year's Normandy Channel Race taking the doublehanded crews out into the English Channel and across the Celtic Sea.
Setting off on Sunday, the course takes the boats from the start off Ouistreham across the Channel, passing through the Solent and then down to Land's End, across the Celtic Sea to the Tuskar Rock. They then sail southwest down the southern coast of Ireland to the Fastnent, return to the Channel to round Guernsey before heading around the top of the Cherbourg Peninsula to the finish in Caen.
This year the Normandy Channel Race 2014 has a top-level line-up.
Vendée Globe skipper Yannick Bestaven, winner of the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2011 and 4th in 2013, is sailing with none other than last year’s winner of the event, Pierre Brasseur, aboard the newly branded Le Conservateur.
“I haven’t yet had the opportunity to add the Normandy Channel Race to my list of accomplishments and, as usual, I make no secret of the fact that I’ll be heading out with some not so secret great ambitions,” Bestaven cryptically admits.
Bertrand Delesne and David Raison (winner of the 2011 Mini Transat), two experienced mini sailors, will be competing aboard TEAM WORK. Eager to get going, this will be their first life-size confrontation against the rest of the fleet of 40 footers.
Former Olympic pole vaulting gold medallist Jean Galfione, skipper of Team Serenis Consulting, will be teaming up with an exceptional sailor, who needs no introduction: Roland Jourdain, twice Route du Rhum winner with a sailing CV as long as you can imagine.
Competing for a third time is Sébastien Rogues, winner of the last Transat Jacques Vabre and 2013 Class40 champion, once again on his seemingly unbeatable GDF SUEZ. He will be accompanied by Bertrand Castelnerac.
Campagne de France will as usual be skippered by the famous Franco-British couple, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron: “This race is an event that is dear to us given our respective Anglo-Norman pedigrees. We hope to make the podium once again, but the standard of the Class40 is continually rising."
ERDF – Des Pieds et des Mains will also be helmed by a mixed duo - Damien Seguin and talented Figaro sailor Jeanne Grégoire, who says: “To discover the Class40 circuit alongside a high performance skipper, who knows his boat inside out is a fantastic opportunity. It’s also excellent training for the Route du Rhum, which he covets. The podium is clearly a target."
Jean-Christophe Caso and Aymeric Chappellier will sail Team Picoty-Lac de Vassivieres, back after their first Normandy Channel Race and a fifth place in last autumn's Transat Jacques Vabre.
Pierre-Yves Lautrou is sailing with Thomas Ruyant, winner of the first Normandy Channel Race as well as the 2010 Route du Rhum and the 2009 Mini Transat. They will be racing on L’Express-Trepia, the newest boat in the fleet - a Finot/ Conq 2014 designed Pogo. Making the boat reliable and racking up experience ahead of this autumn's Route du Rhum is Lautrou’ primary focus.
A native of Lower Normandy, Louis Duc is bringing along a highly enthusiastic sailor and seasoned accident and emergency doctor, Damien Rousseau on Advanced Energies-Carac.
Having previously come home fourth in the Normandy Channel Race, South African Philippa Hutton-Squire is sailing with vet Juliette Petres aboard Concise 2: “There’s nothing like a Normandy Channel Race as training for the Route du Rhum and with Philippa as co-skipper, I’m going to learn a lot!”
Businessman Brieuc Maisonneuve has chosen a Belgian with experience in the Class40 and the Mini class to “beat Halvard Mabire” he says gleefully. Sailmaker Rémi Aubrun intends to help Maisonneuve succeed in his ambition aboard the Lombard design Groupement FLO.
Aboard Kogane, the 59-year olds, Franco-British duo Patrice Bougard and Richard Tolkien are hoping to prove that an amateur crew bordering on their sixties can take on the youngster and achieve an honourable place.
La Belle Equipe 2 may not be the youngest boat in the Normandy Channel Race fleet, but one of her crew is. 26 years old, Loïc Coudret is getting some miles under his belt in readiness for the Mini Transat 2015. He’ll be alongside Bruno Rzetelny, 58, their aim is to reach the top 10.
Maxime Sorel, 27, and Pascal Quintin, 54, are both highly experienced Multi50 sailors, and will be competing in their first Normandy Channel Race aboard MS-Sailing Team. Sorel is aiming for the Route du Rhum.
The Lorraine sailors are back again this year on Obportus 3. Olivier Roussey and Philippe Burger are seemingly stuck to one another. Roussey explains: “After two years finding out way around the Class40 and a Transat Jacques Vabre full of lessons, the Normandy Channel Race is an opportunity to continue the adventure and battle it out against the most seasoned crews.”
It’s the second Normandy Channel Race for Norwegian duo Rune Aasberg and Simen Lovgren. The race’s Vikings fully are aiming for the top 5 with their 2006 Owen Clarke design. Romerike Elektro AS aims to prove that “a new boat isn’t everything in the Normandy Channel Race, strategy prevails!” according to Aasberg.
The only all-British crew is Paul Peggs and Roderick Knowles aboard the latter's Swish. They have competed in this race before, and this time they hope to complete the race in a good position.