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Up and Off! - Start of the Normandy Channel Race 2015
They’re off! At 16:09pm local time today, in a light 10-knot wind and a glorious Norman sunshine, the 16 Class40s competing in the 2015 vintage of the Normandy Channel Race set sail in front of a big crowd. Objective: 1,000 nautical miles taking in the English Channel and the Celtic Sea!

"Individual recalls, individual recalls!" The VHF crackles into life and it’s the voice of the President of the Race Committee, Roland Galliot, who calls to order the four Class40s, which have been a little too hasty in getting going (Zetra, Le Conservateur, Bretagne CréditMutuel and Team Work). By the time they head back to the start line to perform their penalty and rejoin the fray, the rest of the fleet is already making for the first course mark across the bay.

And so it was that at 16:09pm (14:09pm UTC) this Sunday, that the 32 sailors competing in the 6th edition of the Normandy Channel Race commenced hostilities in an 8-10 knot NNW’ly wind.

The Class40s from Lower Normandy have the wind in their sails!

The coastal course offers up a fabulous spectacle offshore of Ouistreham on France’s North coast and it’s the Class40 Campagne 2 France skippered by Briton Miranda Merron andNorman HalvardMabire, which puts on a brilliant demonstration with a faultless round-the-cans section to kick off the action. They’re now heading the fleet, tailed by the second duo from Lower Normandy, Carac - Advanced Energies (Louis Duc and Christophe Lebas) and the Italians on Colombre XL. Ahead lies the Saint MarcoufIslands before the fleet switch due North towards the southern coast of England.

1,000 nautical miles of racing ahead

The Saint Marcouf Islands, the Isle of Wight, Wolf Rock, Tuskar Rock, the legendary Fastnet and the Channel Islands... This year, the weather forecasts may mean that the competitors will complete the entire course, which will be quite a treat! "In principle, we’re going to pass very close to the Irish coast this year, to the extent that we may even smell the heady scent of Guinness without being able to taste it. How frustrating… (laughs)!” concedes the sailor from Lower NormandyLouis Duc (Carac - Advanced Energies) over the radio.

The fleet is set to round the first course mark (SaintMarcouf Islands) this evening at around 22:00pm local time before crossing the English Channel to make the Isle of Wight tomorrow.

Follow the race onwww.normandy-race.com. The cartography with the position of the boats will be updated every 15 minutes. Find the skippers’ accounts on the race’s social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and come along to the live link-ups at the Pavillon de Normandie in Caen between 12:00 and 13:00pm local time.

Provisional ranking at the end of the coastal course:

1. Campagne 2 France at 16:55pm
2. Colombre XL
3. Carac - Advanced Energies
4. Solidaires en Peloton - ARSEP
5. L'Express
6. Bretagne CréditMutuel
7. Serenis Consulting
8. Team Work
9. Concise 8
10. Forty Shades of Grey
11. GroupeSetin
12. Le Conservateur
13. Creno Moustache Solidaire
14. Concise 2
15. Zetra
16. Red

Photo : © Jean-Marie Liot - NCR2015
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