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Normandy Sailing Week: Consistency is the Watchword!
All the series in this 2015 edition of Normandy Sailing Week have finally been able to get out onto the water and into battle mode, with everyone having a role to play in this the third day of the event. Action commenced with the fleet of IRC 1, 2 and 3s, who made it back to Le Havre after a night at sea that saw the crew of Pintia dominate. Next up came a series of races with varying degrees of wind. Vannes Agglo-Golfe from south-west Brittany put up a very consistent performance in each of the day’s 6 races to move up into first place in the provisional overall ranking in the DIAM 24OD category. Among the monohulls, it’s the J80 Paprec, which remains in pole position in the overall ranking, whilst in FC7.5 and IRC4, SNPH2 and Bonobo are leading their respective series.

“The early bird catches the worm” as the saying goes, and that was certainly the case today! If you wanted to enjoy a feast for the eyes, today was not a day for having a lie-in in the hope of making the most of the afternoon sunshine to admire the sailors in action. Indeed, despite a cloudy sky, this morning was the perfect opportunity for the participants to sample the pure pleasure of sailing as we know and love it. Pushed along by 10-15 knots of W/SW’ly breeze with a residual swell from the previous night, it was the IRC 1, 2 and 3s, which opened hostilities. After last night’s start at around 20:00pm local time, the big boats initially rounded the Dives mark before heading West as far as the St Marcouf Islands and then linking onto the downwind sprint back to Le Havre, a tack clearly favoured by the champion Pintia… Her very tired crew was first across the finish line after what proved to be a windy night!

Gilles Fournier: “It was a tough start, but after that it continued to improve. We began close-hauled with a wind of between 12 and 18 knots then, when we tacked between the St Marcouf Islands, the descent under spinnaker all the way to the finish was very nice!”

Next, it was the turn of the J/80s to liven up the race zone with a delayed start of 10:00am local time. Frustrated by the previous day’s calm conditions, the racers were inevitably champing at the bit and the first two races kicked off with a general recall, followed by a black flag start. Following that were a set of 3 races, the first of which enjoyed a stiff breeze, the wind then easing, which resulted in the sailors on Paprec moving up into the top spot after 2 days of racing.

Sébastien Petithuguenin (Paprec): “With very little wind, we worked our tactician’s grey cells to the bone, the latter having a tough day watching out for gusts on the race zone in a bid to get us where the wind was. The upshot of that was a pretty successful mission, especially in the last race.”

There was a similar fight sequence for the IRC 4s and the FC 7.5s! Having to contend with a changeable breeze that was sometimes enough to get the monohulls heeled over and sometimes meant the slightest sniff of breeze was worth having, it was Bonobo that ranked highest in the IRC 4s’ one and only race of the day. Among the FC 7.5s, it was the SNPH2 skippered by Céline Chevet that finished at the top of the leaderboard after this first day of competition.

In a tight zone fronting onto the beach, the DIAM 24ODs competed in a total of 6 races! Enjoying good conditions this morning and slightly milder conditions than on previous afternoons, the battle was intense. Putting up very consistent performances with a podium place in 5 of the 6 races (including 1 victory), Vannes Agglo-Golfe du Morbihan snatched first place in the rankings from Sodebo, which, in contrast, tumbled down the table into 8th position after a tough day.

Matthieu Salomon (Vannes Agglo-Golfe du Morbihan): “We sailed pretty well. We managed to be in the thick of the action in every race and had an absolute ball. Even when we got off to some more complicated starts, we managed to get back on the pace and make it into the top 4. As such it’s been a very solid day for us!”

Thomas Coville (Sodebo): “The race zone in Le Havre is renowned for being complicated in all the different contexts. Here, the standard of the competition is very uniform and after leaving the class 3 months ago after the Spi Ouest-France, you can’t afford to be arrogant or think you have the ability to snatch back the lead from those who sail on a daily basis. It wasn’t a good day for Sodebo!”

Translated by Kate Jennings – Expression

Photo : © Jean-Marie LIOT / NSW2015
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