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New cards if you please - Normandy Channel Race 2015
Day 3. Late afternoon GMT

New cards if you please

After what proved to be a tough night for the majority of the crews in the climb up to the Irish lighthouse of Tuskar Rock, and with the exception of the leader BRETAGNE - CRÉDIT MUTUEL, the top ten ranking has been turned on its head. Meantime, the leader has had a 45’ time penalty imposed on it for breaking an engine seal, which will likely put its lead under some pressure.

As night fell on Tuesday, the fleet of Class40s in the Normandy Channel Race were making headway to the north-west of Land’s End, trying to make up ground to the West so as to be in a favourable position further down the track and switch onto a direct course to Tuskar Rock, some 150 miles to the North.

The moment of truth came when the competitors had to decide on the correct time to ‘hang a right’. Some way astern of the front of the pack at that point, CARAC ADVANCED ENERGIES skippered by Louis Duc, soon to be followed by the Italian crew of COLOMBRE XL and the Brazilians on ZETRA, opted for a rapid tack change, positioning themselves to the East of the direct route. A somewhat larger group made the opposite decision, heading out further West than the leader.

After a night of light wind and fluky breeze, the results of the various options came in thick and fast. The cards have been completely reshuffled. Though BRETAGNE - CRÉDIT MUTUEL was first to round Tuskar at 10:34GMT with a 15-mile lead, the award for the best progress went to the trio made up of CARAC ADVANCED ENERGIES and newcomers to the class, COLOMBRE XL and ZETRA, hot on the leader’s heels, who made the rounding at 12:06, 12:20 and 12:25GMT respectively. Apparently Eduardo Penido (Brazil) has held onto the reflex actions that earned him a gold medal in the 470 class and Massimo Juris (Italy), sailing Halvard and Miranda’s old boat, reminds us that the Venetians have always been good sailors.

CRENO MOUSTACHES SOLIDAIRES has also made a great comeback in 5th place and GROUPE SETIN has made an even more spectacular ascent of the leaderboard, now lying in 6th place after a fairly radical E’ly option. Interestingly, few of yesterday’s favourites have been able to hang onto their place in the top ten. As for those who headed out West, the punishment has been tough with some 5 teams now 25 miles shy of the leader.

Miranda Merron speaks for all 5 of those teams on CAMPAGNE 2 FRANCE: “It is hard work trying to get to Tuskar Rock! The road is full of wind holes and is extremely badly-paved with a nasty little slop, just perfect for gently slamming to a stop. Precious miles gained simply evaporated. Most of the fleet, apart from the leader, probably thinks the same. Beautiful scenery yesterday at Land's End, short tacking under the cliffs to (yet again) try to stay out of the foul tide. Shame there was no one to film it. Too busy tacking every 3 or 4 minutes. It's almost sunrise, dolphins around the boat, and several Class40 playmates in sight. Campagne2France, somewhere south of Ireland.”

A new tactical phase is beginning this evening on the sprint between the two Irish lighthouses of Tuskar and Fastnet – around 150 miles – a course which will kick off with a series of tacks in a well-established 20 knots of SW’ly wind, before the sailors can link onto a direct course and an ETA at Fastnet of early tomorrow morning GMT, Thursday.

Before all that though, the head of the fleet has been thrown a curve ball that may put paid to their ‘horizon job’! Indeed, Nicolas Troussel and Felix Pruvot will have to sit out a 45’ time penalty, which was imposed on them by the international jury after they unintentionally broke the seal on their engine. Informed of the decision this morning, the crew will have to take a 45’ pause from racing later this afternoon and with the team in second place just 13.6 miles astern of them at the 1400GMT ranking, the leaders will be keeping an anxious eye on their stern.

Finally, some news from our all-women crew on CONCISE 2 skippered by South African Philippa Hutton-Squire and French sailor Annabelle Boudinot, who have had to contend with a number of technical issues, but still have the bit between their teeth: "The start of the NCR 2015 wasn’t a great success for Concise 2. On the first night, we had an issue with the alternator. Annabelle and I had to work on it together, rescrewing the alternator onto the motor. As a result we arrived in the Solent exhausted. We enjoyed tacking across the sound, though manoeuvring Concise 2 between the other boats and the sandbanks was very demanding. On Monday night we heard two bangs. The ballast tank had shattered the main tank. As such we now have two cracks in the tank inside the boat. We have other problems aboard too which we can’t sort out. We spent a long while trying to effect repairs and finally, on Tuesday evening, we switched the impeller, which brings water into the engine and stops it from overheating. What a relief! We can now use the autopilot again and all the electronics are now working."

Quotes from the boats:

Massimo Juris (Colombre XL) at today’s radio link-up:

“We were not in a very good position before nightfall, then after consulting the weather reports we decided to take a course more to the East in relation to the fleet that was ahead of us. I think now we are closer to Tuskar things are better for us. I think we have improved our position, but we’ll see, it’s still early! We didn’t have the information that we were third… that’s good news! The weather was very good until now. Last night the wind was shifting a lot in direction and intensity, but we were able to sleep and so everything is fine for the moment. It’s a new boat for us and we still have a lot to learn. We’ve made some mistakes while manoeuvring but this was also the purpose of this race for us, because sailing in a race is different to training and you learn a great deal.”

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 3 of the race, at 1400 GMT:

- 1 Bretagne Crédit Mutuel
- 2 Carac Advanced Energies
- 3 Zetra
- 4 TeamWork 40

Photo : Jean-Marie Liot/NCR2015
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