After a lively introduction to proceedings offshore of Ouistreham, all the fleet in the CIC Normandy Channel Race 2021 benefited from a solid 20-knot NE’ly breeze to round the first course mark to the west of Saint Marcouf just three hours after the start followed by an express Channel crossing. An unprecedented scenario in this event then thanks to a combination of favourable reaching at a good speed for the Class40s and good timing in relation to the tides and hence a favourable current enabling a hassle-free negotiation of Barfleur and the Solent.
Somewhat inevitably, the difference in potential between the latest generation boats and the older craft means there is already a considerable gap between the leading group and the American crew of Kite, which is bringing up the rear some 40 miles astern of the head of the fleet. In addition to the four modern scow-type Class40s, which have been leading the way since the start, Crédit Mutuel (158) gaining the edge this morning, a second chasing pack made up of E. Leclers Ville La Grand (160), La Manche #EvidenceNautique (154), Legallais Team Voile (145) and Tales 2 (123) are embroiled in an almighty battle offshore of Weymouth.
Accompanying all the crews along the south coast of England is an E’ly Channel breeze and a current that is still in their favour until late morning, which should enable the head of the fleet to reach Lizard Point by early evening. As with Vogue avec un Crohn (135), which is attempting a more offshore option, the downwind sailing conditions will set the tone for a string of strategic choices and well-timed gybes as the fleet try to position themselves as best they can.
It’s worth noting that Shingles Bank has struck a blow once more. The Class40 Eärwen (88) ran aground early this morning on the sandbank marking the exit from the Solent. Kieran and Jean-Jacques le Borgne are awaiting the rising tide so they can get back out on the racetrack as soon as possible and without assistance.
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