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Normandy Channel Race

Ruyant - Leglatin take victory in the 1st NCR

Halvard Mabire and Peter Harding second 20 minutes later

Sunday 23 May 2010Redaction SSS [Source RP]

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

It was this morning at 0752 GMT precisely when Thomas Ruyant and Tanguy Leglatin crossed the finish line of the very first edition of the Normandy Channel Race. They took victory aboard the Class 40 "Destination Dunkerque" after 6 days, 18 hours and 52 minutes of thrilling, high tension racing (averaging a speed Speed #speedsailing of 5.85 knots). Just 20 minutes later, the Norman Halvard Mabire and his British co-skipper Peter Harding completed the 1,000 mile course through the Channel, the Atlantic and the Celtic Sea.

The last night of racing proved to be the most dangerous of all, with an Homeric passage around the Raz Blanchard, which ultimately smiled on the Dunkirk boat despite increasing pressure from the Franco-British duo since rounding the Fastnet, who gave their absolute all in the currents offshore of Cherbourg. "40 Degrees", skippered by Mabire and Harding, completed the race within sight of the winner, thus highlighting the technical diversity and richness of this Normandy Channel Race in all its glory. Ultimately, perhaps the only thing lacking was a zest of light, the fog having hidden the beautiful shores of England and Ireland for the majority of the competitors.

Ruyant: with a view to the Rhum

Winner of the Grand Prix de Douarnenez Douarnenez #Douarnenez a couple of weeks ago aboard "Destination Dunkerque", the young, triumphant skipper from northern France, also won the Transat The Transat #thetransat #ostar 6.50 Charente Maritime-Bahia race in Salvador de Bahia in November. As such he has very quickly skimmed through the ‘learning phase’ of his arrival in the Class of 40 foot monohulls. Teaming up with the Breton ‘sorcerer’, Tanguy Leglatin, was clearly a good move; the latter being a trainer, coach and advisor to some of the top sailors, and someone who is well on the way to forging a fine reputation as a ‘producer of champions’. By taking such a fine victory in the Normandy Channel Race, Ruyant has certainly pulled out all the stops as regards the goal he set himself to be match-ready for the start of the Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum this October. "The Normandy Channel Race is a fantastic race. It’s a very intense event, which is physically very hard and not dissimilar to a (very) long leg of the Figaro" explains Thomas." Tanguy and I sailed like two solo sailors, splitting all the tasks right down the middle, whether it was helming, manœuvres up forward or in the cockpit, the weather or the strategy..."

Virtually in the lead from the very first night, Ruyant and Leglatin initially sailed their race without putting pressure on themselves. The first episode of downwind sailing towards the Isle of Wight gave them the chance to open up the throttle and stretch away from the fleet for the first time. The Solent passage and the long upwind tacks towards the Lizard saw a very fast group of competitors make up ground on them. Halvard Mabire and Peter Harding were already at the front of the pack by that stage, accompanied by Yvan Noblet and David Taboré (Appart City) and the amazing Dutch-Belgian duo Roeland Franssens and Michel Kleinjans. The climb up towards the Tuskar Rock lighthouse to the SE of Ireland in downwind conditions in a freshening SW’ly breeze, once again enabled "Destination Dunkerque" to demonstrate its great potential with the wind on the tail. The Verdier design opened up another lead, which stretched to as much as 30 miles ahead of the Mabire-Harding duo, though the latter managed to hang on in there, it too stealing a march on its pursuers.

The return towards Normandy from the Fastnet saw the battle for the top spot being fired up again when, after an excellent upwind tacking session through the fog, the Owen Clarke Design "40 Degrees" came right back to within a hair’s breadth of the leader. Jobourg and the Raz Blanchard then proved to be the determining factor, forcing decisions out of both protagonists. "It took us two attempts to get round" recounts an amused Thomas Ruyant. "We zigzagged our way along the second time, right up close to the rocks. We were sure Halvard, who knows this area like the back of his hand, had got past us..."Crossing the Baie de Seine last night was filled with anxiety for the Ruyant-Leglatin pairing. "Tanguy was up forward peering into the fog. We shouted out to each other to find out if there was another sail in sight...." In fact the only other sail in sight as "Destination Dunkerque" emerged into the glorious sunshine lighting up the beaches of the Calvados shortly before 0900 hrs local time, was behind them. As the sound of the finish gun echoed across the bay, the pressure fell away from the shoulders of the winners, who had just 20 minutes to wait before they could congratulate the Mabire-Harding duo in person on the finish line.

Mabire: a superb race… albeit a bit short

Naturally the Franco-British duo would have liked the course to be just a tad longer and so it was a slightly disappointed Halvard Mabire that crossed the finish line, after coming so close to victory. However the disappointment was soon digested as he gave a brief rundown of the race on 40 Degrees. "It’s a good result for us. We sailed well without any major mistakes. Our boat isn’t the most optimised of the fleet, but she clearly demonstrated how well she performs on every point of sail, and that’s what enabled us to rank so highly. Peter is a charming and very willing travel companion." At ease throughout the course, the race gave the duo the opportunity to ‘revisit’ the most legendary sectors of ocean racing and regatta sailing, including Cowes and the Solent, the Lizard and its famous headland, the Tuskar and Fastnet lighthouses, the Anglo-Norman islands and Jobourg. In so doing, Mabire was able to let his experience and his knowledge of the race zone do the talking; a discussion enriched by over 30 years of history. In search of a budget for the Route du Rhum Route du Rhum #RouteDuRhum , he’s more than ready to battle it out at the front of a booming Class after this extraordinary Normandy Channel Race, which has proven to be a fantastic way to express his potential.

Quotes from the skippers

- Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque): "We finish this race feeling very tired. It’s been great because it was hard. A difficult race is one which has a whole range of technical difficulties. That has been the case throughout the week, so we’ve constantly had to be on the alert due to the complexity of the course, the strong performance by the fleet that was always very compact, and because the weather conditions proved to be hard to predict. Tanguy helped me a great deal in familiarising myself with my new boat more and more. I know that I still have progress to make in my work at the chart table, especially as regards modern computer tooling. The boat fully lives up to my aspirations and we’ve filled out a whole book of observations with a view to optimising her for the Route du Rhum"

- Tanguy Leglatin (Destination Dunkerque): "We’re delighted with this victory. It was a stressful final, because in the fog, we were worried that we didn’t know whether or not "40 Degrees" had got past us. The course is great and the reduction, which eliminated the Sept îles section didn’t change much. Vying with the Anglo-Norman duo was exciting. It was a fantastic experience to race in this event… but it’s good that it’s come to an end as we had our last supper last night and after that there was no more food..."

- Halvard Mabire (40 Degrees): "A few more miles and we could have had a chance to get ahead. It’s still been a fine performance though. However, for the next time, a few modifications will need to be made:
- put Ireland back where it should be (we didn’t get a glimpse of it)
- remove a bit of the fog (not too much, we’d miss it – you get used to everything eventually)
- look a bit closer into the cycles of the moon, because this time around it feels like we’re finishing when we should have started.
- this time you’ve managed to organise things so that we’ve gone virtually full circle tacking upwind, so next time we could try the same thing but sailing downwind the whole way.”

- Info presse

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