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Irish Cavalcade - Normandy Channel Race – Thursday 28 May 2015

Having rounded the Irish lighthouse of Tuskar Rock early afternoon yesterday, a ‘holy grail’ that proved very difficult to reach for certain skippers, the fleet of Class40s has been wending its way along the Irish coast towards Fastnet some 150 miles down the racetrack. The front of the pack will likely round the famous lighthouse mid-morning GMT at which point they’ll hitch a ride on the ‘express train’ carrying them downwind towards the Channel Islands.

With Tuskar Rock – the ‘totem’ of the Normandy Channel Race – rounded, the competitors formed a surprising group, slinking along Ireland’s South coast. Aside from the top trio, ten or so boats bunched within a 3-mile radius in the small bay to the East of Kilmore, before passing between the islands of Great Saltee and Little Saltee, that stand barely 1,500m apart. It’s a restart then for the chasing pack, a spectacle somewhat marred by a front rolling through, which quickly brought with it rain and around thirty knots of SW’ly wind.

During this time, BRETAGNE CREDIT MUTUEL carried out its 45’ time penalty (due to accidentally pulling out their engine seal) in the following bay, whilst the Italians on COLOMBRE XL, lying in a splendid fourth position at the time, had to divert to the port of Rosslare in a bid to resolve their onboard energy problems.

By early evening, the fleet cut short their introspection of the Irish coastline to head offshore a little, on a beat in a strong wind. Solely the leader remained further inshore, confidently striking out on its own again and sailing its own race without worrying about the other skippers.

At 06:00GMT this Thursday morning, some fifteen miles or so still separated skipper Nicolas Troussel from his direct rivals. The attack continued to be led by the crew on CARAC ADVANCED ENERGIES who are really on their game. Just behind them LE CONSERVATEUR, back in the action after a dreadful Tuesday night, the Brazilian team on ZETRA, who are clearly very quick at learning how a Class40 handles, and SERENIS CONSULTING are all very close. Despite CARAC being 5 years older than a lot of the other boats, Louis Duc is really going for it, the distance between him and the leader barely changing overnight. Clearly anything is still possible with the halfway mark in the course reached yesterday evening and some 400 miles left to go…

Some good news for COLOMBRE XL, who headed back out on the racetrack at 05:00GMT this morning, but all the skippers are beginning to feel the fatigue now on the 5th day of what has been an extremely intense race so far, as this morning’s message from the crew on EXPRESS testifies:

"Not easy to send you a little message tonight as we crawl along the coast as if we were looking for oil! The nights are beautiful and clear, still with a half moon lighting up the race zone. We had to earn it though, after a very bracing afternoon tacking along the coast of Ireland just after an epic front rolled through at the very moment we rounded Tuskar Rock. It was an exhausting session, where we ended up getting washed out in every sense of the term! And now we’re into the long tack towards the Fastnet, where the boat feels like it’s going to end up breaking apart… As JC said as he headed down below to try to recover a bit from his efforts: right now, we’re in the red.”

Follow the race on www.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 on Day 4 of the race, at 06:00GMT:

- 1 Bretagne - Crédit Mutuel
- 2 Carac - Advanced Energies
- 3 Le Conservateur
- 4 Zetra
- 5 Serenis Consulting

Photo : Jean-Marie Liot/NCR2015
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