Normandy Channel Race has International flair

Normandy Channel Race 2010
© Jean-Marie Liot
Normandy Channel Race boasts eighteen Class 40s with just days to go until the official closing of registration.

Furthermore, the latest crew entries come as further proof that this race isn’t just reserved for Frenchies! With over half the participating duos having their roots overseas, this 2011 edition will be definitively international!

Crossing borders…

Gryphon Solo 2, skippered by Joe Harris and Josh Hall, is officially on the entry list. An experienced duo, who’ve known each other since 2005, Joe and Josh previously won the Transat Jacques Vabre in a 50 foot monohull. Aboard this same 50 footer, Joe is taking part in the Portimao Global Ocean Race singlehanded. This year they are returning to competition on a new Akilaria RC2 built in Tunisia.

And though Joe is anxious to test Gryphon Solo 2’s performance offshore, for Josh, organiser of the Global Ocean Race, the 1,000 miles that make up the race will be a good way to see how they fare against the others:

'This race is a challenge! The course may have a lot of surprises in store for us, especially in terms of the wind. Joe and I have done a huge amount of sailing and we’re ready to take up the gauntlet of the Normandy Channel Race.' The two skippers will be on the start line in Caen on 22 May 2011.

There is also news of a mystery crew, who have already registered their entry and have finally revealed themselves… Phesheya Racing is back! South-Africans Phillippa Hutton-Squire and Nick Leggatt, competitors in last year’s race, were charmed by the course. Aboard an Akilaria built in 2006, they’ve already done a lot of sailing. In 2010, they ranked sixth in the first edition of the Normandy Channel Race and this year they have a double objective: to win the race and qualify for the Global Ocean Race.

A further boon to the entry list comes in the form of Hannah Jenner and Anna-Maria Renken, respectively English and German, who are the second all female crew to sign up for the Normandy Channel Race. Aboard '40 Degrees', a Class 40 that came second in the 2010 edition, this duo will certainly be worth keeping an eye on. Between the two of them, they’ve racked up over 200,000 miles on the water.

In 2008, Hannah was the first woman to skipper a boat in the Clipper Round the World and she finished third in the general ranking whilst going to the rescue of a man overboard, right in the middle of the Indian Ocean. For her part, Anna-Maria grew up in the marine environment.

A fan of windsurfing, top level swimming and sailing, she’s a real water baby. In 2009, she became the skipper of a German crew in the legendary Fastnet race. Both very sporty, Hannah and Anna-Maria are also highly motivated! They’re participating in the Normandy Channel Race for the first time and they too have their sights on the Global Ocean Race. Their experience of offshore racing may well make the difference…

And the French in all this?

Don’t forget about them because they’re not just there to make up the numbers. Fabien Delahaye and Bruno Jourdren aboard Port de Caen – Ouistreham and the Franco-English team, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron are clearly striving for the podium. However, the other French crews, who have less experience in the Class 40, are still serious contenders, such as Jean Galfione and Eric Peron on Talanta, and the all-female crew of Stéphanie Alran and Caroline Vieille-Olagne…

And though other registered duos remain more discreet about their co-skippers, such as Damien Séguin and Marc Lepesqueux, Axel Strauss meantime has just announced the name of his partner, Nicolas Boidevézi. From La Rochelle, Nicolas will be racing on Défi GDE – Tzu Hang. At 30, he is a familiar face on the mini circuit. For his part, Axel has no fewer than eight trans-atlantics to his credit! This Franco-German duo will be participating in the Normandy Channel Race for the first time.

However, whether they’re English, German, American, South African, Dutch, Italian or French, they’ll all be on the start line in Caen on 22 May 2011. On equal terms, they’ll be setting off on a 1,000 mile race encompassing England, Ireland and France. A difficult course, strewn with obstacles which, to the great delight of everyone concerned, will serve to further add to the suspense…

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