Monday, May 24, 2010

Normandy Race

After a tense, epic last twenty four hours of the Normandy Race, 40 Degrees runs out of runway for its attack and is pipped into second place by Destination Dunkerque. A fantastic inaugural race, this event will hopefully become a classic event in the Class 40 calendar.

Sunday morning at 0752 GMT Thomas Ruyant and Tanguy Leglatin crossed the finish line of the very first edition of the Normandy Channel Race. They took victory aboard the Class 40 "Destination Dunkerque" after 6 days, 18 hours and 52 minutes of thrilling, high tension racing (averaging a speed of 5.85 knots). Just 20 minutes later, the Norman Halvard Mabire and his British co-skipper Peter Harding completed the 1,000 mile course through the Channel, the Atlantic and the Celtic Sea. The last night of racing proved to be the most dangerous of all, with a passage around the Raz Blanchard, which ultimately smiled on the Dunkirk boat despite increasing pressure from the Franco-British duo since rounding the Fastnet, who gave their absolute all in the currents offshore of Cherbourg. "40 Degrees", skippered by Mabire and Harding, completed the race within sight of the winner.

Winner of the Grand Prix de Douarnenez a couple of weeks ago aboard "Destination Dunkerque", the young, triumphant skipper from northern France, also won the Transat 6.50 Charente Maritime-Bahia race in Salvador de Bahia in November. As such he has very quickly skimmed through the learning phase of his arrival in the Class of 40 foot monohulls. Teaming up with the Breton sailing coach, Tanguy Leglatin, was clearly a good move; the latter being a trainer, coach and advisor to some of the top sailors in Figaro and Open 60 class, and someone who is well on the way to forging a fine reputation as a producer of champions. By taking such a fine victory in the Normandy Channel Race, Ruyant has certainly pulled out all the stops as regards the goal he set himself to be match-ready for the start of the Route du Rhum this October.

The return towards Normandy from the Fastnet saw the battle for the top spot being fired up again when, after an excellent upwind tacking session through the fog, the Owen Clarke Design "40 Degrees" came right back to within a hairs breadth of the leader.

Naturally the Franco-British duo would have liked the course to be just a tad longer and so it was a slightly disappointed Halvard Mabire that crossed the finish line, after coming so close to victory. However the disappointment was soon digested as he gave a brief rundown of the race on 40 Degrees. "It’s a good result for us. We sailed well without any major mistakes. Our boat isn’t the most optimised of the fleet yet, but she clearly demonstrated how well she performs on every point of sail, and that’s what enabled us to rank so highly. Peter is a charming and very willing travel companion." At ease throughout the course, the race gave the duo the opportunity to ‘revisit’ the most legendary sectors of ocean racing and regatta sailing, including Cowes and the Solent, the Lizard and its famous headland, the Tuskar and Fastnet lighthouses, the Channel Islands and Jobourg. In so doing, Mabire was able to let his experience and his knowledge of the race zone do the talking; a discussion enriched by over 30 years of history. In search of a budget for the Route du Rhum, he’s more than ready to battle it out at the front of a booming Class after this extraordinary Normandy Channel Race, which has proven to be a fantastic way to express his potential on this boat.

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