Eager to get back out on the racetrack, 26 duos set sail today on the 11th Normandy Channel Race, the only event in the Class40 championship that has been able to go ahead as planned in the rather unique landscape of 2020. It was with almost perfect weather conditions, worthy of the finest summer days, that the Race Committee released the Class40s right on schedule at 19:05 local time along a looped 7-mile coastal circuit around the Baie de Seine off the mouth of the River Orne, between the cardinal marks of Luc sur Mer and Ouistreham. After a clean start in around 10 knots of NE’ly wind, conditions were almost perfect for the introduction to play, the Class40s putting on a fantastic show as the sun went down over the yard arm. The preamble was hotly contested, providing a tantalising foretaste of the battle that awaits over the theoretical 1,000-mile course. Fresh out of the box, Redman, skippered by Antoine Carpentier and Nicolas Groleau, rapidly set the pace and were first to round the final mark of the coastal course and set a course, downwind, towards the next waypoint off the Saint Marcouf islands, some 36 miles from the start, in the Baie des Veys. The duo of Ian Lipinski and Julien Pulvé aboard Crédit Mutuel, one of the firm favourites of this 2020 edition, nailed a series of pristine tack changes to bag second place in the position report. Hot on their heels was the father and son duo, Antoine and Olivier Magre aboard E. Leclerc Ville La Grand. Evidently, the downwind conditions combined with the talent of the skippers enabled the Class’ most recent additions to really show what they’re made of on this coastal course.

Making for Saint-Marcouf

There are some 36 miles between the last mark in the coastal course off Ouistreham and the compulsory waypoint to the west of Saint-Marcouf. The competitors are due to benefit from a gentle and favourable current to reach the first tricky section of the course which, as is often the case in this great Norman classic, will likely reshuffle the cards for the first time.

Channel hopping

To tackle what will likely be one of the least fun sections of the course, the Channel crossing and its heavy shipping, the fleet should still be able to benefit from some favourable conditions on a reach in a breeze that is forecast to flesh out to around 15 knots from the ESE. After a first night at sea, the leading Class40s should theoretically reach the Isle of Wight tomorrow morning at around 0600 GMT, at which point their skippers will be able to get their teeth into another legendary section of the event: the negotiation of the Solent.

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