Normandy Channel Race 2011 fourth retirement and a change of course

Normandy Channel Race 2011
© Jean-Marie Liot
*Normandy Channel Race 2011 has been up and sailing for just over two days and there are now just 13 Class40s still racing. A strong winded, deep depression is closing in on the Irish Sea that is likely to reach the fleet early morning tomorrow. As a result, the race committee has made the decision to shorten the course.

This morning, at around 0900 GMT, the crew on Marie Toit – Caen la Mer announced their retirement following a collision. For the rest of the fleet, the cavalcade continues. The rankings are tightly bunched with the top three desperately hanging onto their top spots. Fabien Delahaye and Bruno Jourdren aboard Port de Caen Ouistreham are leading the way ahead of Tanguy de Lamotte and Sébastien Audigane on Initiatives Saveurs and Jean Galfione and Eric Péron on Talanta.

For the past few hours, the competitors have been enjoying some downwind sailing. A more manageable point of sail, despite the strong wind, which is finally giving them a chance to rest and eat. Tuskar Rock lays ahead of their bows. Late this evening the leaders were set to pass the Irish course mark, before setting a course for the Fastnet lighthouse. However, that was before taking into consideration a depression heading straight towards the fleet…

The first two days of the race haven’t been at all relaxing for those competing in the Normandy Channel Race. Furthermore, the weather forecasts have no good news for the skippers, who are already worn down by fatigue. A deep depression is homing in on the Irish Sea and is likely to reach the fleet early morning tomorrow, Wednesday. The winds generated by this South/South-Westerly air flow are likely to be very strong and, as a result, the race committee has taken the decision to shorten the course:

Normandy Channel Race 2011
© Jean-Marie Liot

'Given the upcoming weather conditions in the Irish Sea and especially at Fastnet Rock, namely 40 to 45 knots of South/South-Westerly and heavy seas, we’ve opted, in agreement with the organisation, to remove the Fastnet lighthouse course mark and take the fleet directly towards Guernsey after Tuskar Rock', explains Sylvie Viant, Race Director.

All the competitors have been warned by email. Following the change of course, the 13 Class40s still racing should be able to ride out the tide between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. In the meantime, the race will be no less thrilling. A long beat awaits the fleet between the lighthouse at Tuskar Rock and the tip of Land’s End. Indeed this tactical passage will mean the skippers will have to battle to stay in contention.

Further down the track, the depression will shift, the winds set to move round to the West, where it will accompany the Class40s downwind as far as Guernsey. The upshot of this will be a high speed 130 mile run. An interesting change of course then, which might well reshuffle the cards in the overall ranking…'

This Tuesday morning, at 0900 GMT, Michel Kleinjans and Marc Lepesqueux called race management to announce their retirement. Following a collision with a pipe being towed by a tug, the new Kiwi 40FC Marie Toit – Caen la Mer suffered damage which has forced the skippers to turn back. Michel Kleinjans tells of their misadventure: 'A tug was making headway on a course virtually parallel to our own. As such we weren’t paying any more attention than that.

I was up forward when I spotted a black pipe. I ran to the helm but it was too late. The pipe slipped between the rudders and ended up getting stuck there. The stock of one of the rudders is twisted, the sail is likely to be damaged and maybe the hull too.' For Marc Lepesqueux, it’s a bitter disappointment:

'We found it difficult to get our bearings initially but after the Saint Marcouf islands, things went better! We were in second place on exiting the Solent and this morning, after last night’s option, we were leading the ranking. We’d worked well until this stupid thing! It’s pleasant sailing on a modern boat which has a sound hull below the waterline and great potential. I’m disappointed we can’t finish the race and that we’ll miss out on the fine reward of a downwind descent between Ireland and Guernsey!'

The crew of Marie Toit – Caen la Mer is making towards Cherbourg and is set to take the boat as far as Belgium to begin repairs. The Franco-Belgian duo had sailed a great race until just after they’d moved up into the lead…

The latest retirement is the Class40 Spliff. The crew contacted race management at 1900 GMT this Tuesday evening to announce they were turning back.

Andrew Dawson and Rune Aasberg reckoned the sailing conditions were becoming too difficult. They chose to stop and conserve the boat.

Normandy Channel Race 2011 Rankings 24/05/2011 17:00 GMT

1 PORT DE CAEN OUISTREHAM 561.2 0.0 51 46.80' N 6 01.92' W 24/05/2011 17:00 12.2 345 11.0 346 10.3 351.3 5.4 181.9 0.00

2 INITIATIVES SAVEURS 562.3 1.1 51 45.90' N 6 02.65' W 24/05/2011 17:02 30.0 345 11.7 348 10.4 352.0 5.4 183.0 0.00

3 TALANTA 566.0 4.8 51 36.36' N 6 03.56' W 24/05/2011 16:30 11.6 348 10.6 344 10.0 350.3 5.2 179.3 0.00

4 L'EXPRESS - SAPMER 569.3 8.1 51 38.16' N 6 04.92' W 24/05/2011 17:00 12.4 357 11.4 356 10.2 351.7 5.2 176.0 0.00

5 MARE.DE2 569.4 8.2 51 38.44' N 6 01.40' W 24/05/2011 17:00 12.4 349 10.8 351 10.2 351.9 5.2 176.3 0.00

6 DES PIEDS ET DES MAINS 573.6 12.4 51 33.96' N 6 03.48' W 24/05/2011 17:00 11.0 002 11.0 353 9.8 349.6 5.1 172.2 0.00

7 DEFI GDE - TZU HANG 587.4 26.2 51 21.00' N 5 54.48' W 24/05/2011 17:00 9.2 354 10.0 351 9.9 349.3 4.6 162.8 0.00

8 RED 587.8 26.7 51 21.24' N 5 49.76' W 24/05/2011 17:00 9.8 344 10.4 350 9.9 352.3 4.5 163.0 0.00

9 PHESHEYA RACING 596.7 35.5 51 11.36' N 5 56.52' W 24/05/2011 17:00 9.4 005 8.8 008 9.1 354.1 4.2 157.7 0.00

10 40 DEGREES 648.3 87.2 50 19.68' N 5 51.52' W 24/05/2011 17:00 9.8 353 8.4 346 6.8 337.3 4.4 126.3 0.00

11 GRYPHON SOLO 2 649.7 88.6 50 18.56' N 5 48.24' W 24/05/2011 17:00 10.0 354 7.6 010 5.3 323.6 4.3 122.8 0.00

12 OCEAN ELEVEN 704.4 143.2 49 44.00' N 4 50.64' W 24/05/2011 17:00 6.9 220 6.9 221 5.0 289.7 4.7 104.8 0.00

ABD LIVEWIRE 0.0 49 38.76' N 1 37.27' W 24/05/2011 17:00 0.0 000 0.0 000 0.00

ABD MARIE TOÎT - CAEN LA MER 0.0 49 27.72' N 4 32.96' W 24/05/2011 17:00 7.2 136 7.2 136 0.00

ABD PARTOUCHE 0.0 49 16.52' N 0 14.88' W

ABD SPLIFF 665.8 104.7 50 02.81' N 5 43.11' W 24/05/2011 17:00 7.3 326 7.3 326 5.6 290.0 5.3 129.6 0.00

Normandy Channel Race 2011
© Jean-Marie Liot


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