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Normandy Channel Race

Ruyant & Leglatin firsts to round Fastnet rock

Tanguy : "We hope to be in Caen by midday on Sunday"

jeudi 20 mai 2010Redaction SSS [Source RP]

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On rounding Fastnet Rock to the South of Ireland this morning, Thomas Ruyant and Tanguy Leglatin also set a course back to France and Normandy. Indeed Normandy will now be the last remaining passage mark after Sylvie Viant, President of the Race Committee, signalled the removal of the Sept îles course passage in Brittany last night to the 8 remaining competitors (the English crew of ‘Spliff’ retiring due to alternator problems).

This course reduction was dictated by the light airs that have been reigning across the race zone since Sunday’s start off Normandy’s landing beaches, which unfortunately look likely to extend along the 389 miles that separate the leaders of the fleet from the finish. "Destination Dunkerque" seems to be a solid leader and has maintained its big lead from last night’s tacking session through the Irish mists, ahead of "40 Degrees" skippered by the Franco-British duo Mabire-Harding and the tenacious Dutch-Belgian pairing Franssens-Kleinjans. Naturally none of the latter are keen to give their rivals even an inch. The zone of high pressure which is promising fine weather across France and England this weekend, will severely complicate things for the sailors, who will have to contend with yet more light airs and yet more upwind sailing ; conditions which have characterised this first ever Normandy Channel Race.

Leading the fleet in the Solent, at the Lizard, at Land’s End and at Tuskar Rock, the Thomas Ruyant-Tanguy Leglatin pairing added the legendary Fastnet Rock to their list early this morning, after what has been a flawless performance. However, the two men are still only too aware of the proximity and aggressiveness of their pursuers and are thus avoiding any hint of rejoicing in their messages, in a bid to retain their concentration all the way to the finish line in Hermanville sur Mer. Right now a fine zone of high pressure is sprawling out along the coast of Brittany, shifting gently up towards the British Isles. Within its centre it contains some vast zones of flat calm, while around its edge is a breath of E’ly, which is something the competitors will have to negotiate head on once they’ve got around the Fastnet. As such this close-hauled sailing will have coloured each of the race’s high points, with the exception of the fast downwind sprint, slipping across the Celtic Sea towards Tuskar Rock. However it was the omnipresent mist and fog since Land’s End, which was consuming the duos this morning ; the latter deprived of the spectacle of enchanting scenery as they hugged the coastline. From the ghostly Tuskar Rock to an indiscernible Fastnet, the sailors are tracing out their route with their instruments, an eye fixed on the radar to warn them of potential fishing boats looming up out of the gloom.

With the majority of the fleet still slinking along towards the Fastnet with the wind on the nose, today hasn’t seen any upsets in the ranking, instead the boats seem to have simply bunched up together. Christophe Coatnoan and Pierre Yves Lautrou are bringing up the rear on "Groupe Partouche", but they can at least console themselves with the fact that they are now "just 62 miles behind the leaders” from Dunkirk. The three boats in front of them, "Novedia Initiatives" helmed by the De Lamotte-Galfione duo, "Marie Toit - Caen la Mer”, skippered by Lepesqueux-Defert and the South Africans Nick Legatt- Philippa Hutton-Squire on "Phesheya Racing", are all sailing within a 27 mile expanse of ocean, whilst the provisional podium places hinge on 4 competitors grouped within 35 miles of each other. The shortening of the course, though it changes very little in terms of distance to the goal, has opened up the whole of the Channel to the competitors, and may well facilitate a finish for the frontrunners of early morning on Sunday.

Quotes from the Boats

- Yvan Noblet, (Appart City) : "We have some slight communication Communication #Communication problems, but the shortening of the course comes as good news. We’re fairly happy with our night and we managed to check the repairs in the light airs. We’re concentrating on making headway now. We hope the fog’s going to disappear. We’ve got a lot of upwind sailing still to do. The boat’s going well with the mast a little further astern now. We’re going to try to get back in contention. After the Fastnet we’ll reinforce the repair. We’re not going to be maniacs. We’ll stay as close to the direct course as possible and try to claw back the miles on our two friends ahead.

- Nick Legatt (Phesheya Racing) : "The wind was very erratic last night ; at times we had 10 - 15 knots, and other times we had nothing at all. This morning the wind has stabilised. We’re not far behind the others. We’re going to dig deep and try to stick with them, though we’re also a bit worried about what’s happening behind us. We’re sailing at a good angle to the wind to drop down towards the Fastnet. We’re fogbound and can see nothing and no-one so we’re relying on the computer to tell us what’s happening outside. We can barely see the front of the boat ! It really is a great race though. I’m not quite sure how you organised things so we had upwind the whole way. Fortunately we are quick upwind, though a bit more breeze and some downwind conditions would be much appreciated...”

- Tanguy Leglatin (Destination Dunkerque) : "We still have between 4 and 8 knots of breeze and we’re still in the fog. We’re sad not to have seen anything of Ireland, though we did manage to take a photo as we rounded the Fastnet. The shortened course won’t have much effect as we’re expecting light airs and E’ly winds. We hope to be in Caen by midday on Sunday. The new course is forcing us to be vigilant over the next 36 hours as anything could still happen as our rivals will have different wind and won’t slow down as much as us in the zone of high pressure. Thomas and I are working on the grib files. We’re going about things simply and trying to focus on speed. There is still a lot of uncertainty as regards the future and we must now control what’s happening behind us."

- Tanguy Delamotte (Novedia Innovations) : "We saw the Irish coast as we tacked in the entrance to the bay of Cork and it was great to see a bit of green ! We have a problem with our email server so we’re not receiving files anymore. It’s logical that the course has been shortened and it will enable us to finish in a fairly tight bunch. It wouldn’t have been much fun to go and play in the zones with strong currents in the light airs. We’re putting in a nice little tack in the bay of Cork with the current and we’ll soon put in another tack onto a direct course to the Fastnet, which sadly we’re likely to round under the cover of darkness. Meantime the zone of high pressure will slow down the frontrunners but it won’t be enough to enable us to sweat it out at the front. However, we will be trying to eat into the lead of our rivals ahead of us..."

- Roelland Franssens (Moonpalace) : "Conditions have been difficult since Tuskar, with a light and very fluctuating breeze. We’re very close to the Fastnet and 40 Degrees is just ahead of us. We saw them last night. They got away from us this morning but everything changes in the blink of an eye. The course reduction doesn’t really alter much in terms of distance to the goal. We’re in for some more upwind sailing and we can wave goodbye to our spinnaker. We’re ready for battle..."

- Marc Lepesqueux (Marie Toit - Caen la Mer) : "The seas are becoming calmer and, aside from the fog, everything’s hunky-dory as we approach the Fastnet. We barely got a glimpse of Tuskar despite being just 200 metres away, and we haven’t seen the Irish coast either. The wind was very fluky, ranging from 3 to 25 knots and creating a choppy sea. The wind shift has kicked in now and we’re dropping down towards the Fastnet.”

- Info presse Normandy Channel Race /

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