The first Championship race of the Class40 season begins this weekend, with the CIC Normandy Channel Race setting sail from Caen, France, for a week of high-octane action on Sunday at 16h00 local time.
The race will span its usual 1,000 miles (1,852km) across the English Channel and Celtic Sea - circulating the beautiful sights of the Isle of White, Tuskar Rock, Fastnet Rock and Guernsey along the way.
Double-handed and fast-paced - it's the ultimate blend of flat-out racing and complex navigation.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead this year’s event.
What happened last year?
Despite a heavily interrupted Class40 Championship in 2020, the CIC Normandy Channel Race went ahead last September – the only Championship event to do so, much to the delight of the highly competitive fleet.
#159 Banque du Léman, the Sam Manuard designed Mach40.4, skippered by Valentin Gautier and Simon Koster, won the hotly contested event with a 4day, 20 hour and 25-minute finishing time.
Race favourites #158 Crédit Mutuel crewed by Ian Lipinski and Julien Pulve pushed all the way making for an intense finale – finishing second, just six minutes behind the eventual champions.
How many are competing in 2021?
Twenty-four Class40's are set to compete in this year’s running – with Banque du Léman defending their crown. Axel Tréhin brings his brand-new David Raison designed Max40 #162 ‘Project Rescue Ocean’ to the race and will be competitive from the outset. Redman, #161 is sure to be fighting for the podium too with Antoine Carpentier and previous winner Pablo Santurde at the helm.
What's the history of this race?
This year will be the 12th edition of the Normandy Channel Race.
The race was first staged back in 2010 with Destination Dunkerque, skippered by Thomas Ruyant and Tanguy Leglatin, famously taking the inaugural victory. The race has built a reputation for close racing, a snakes and ladders leader board and being one of Class40s best testing grounds of crew work, navigation and boat handling.
What does it take to win?
The race is iconic for its added strategic and tactical emphasis, with legendary ocean racer and Class40 President, Halvard Mabire, insisting only 'smart' racers will successfully navigate its course.
Maiden winner Ruyant has a similar take: "The Normandy Channel Race is an intense race as its course meets all geographic points that we take regularly. It is really interesting strategically and tactically. This event is intense up to the end. In 2010, Halvard Mabire and Peter Harding finished second, only 15 minutes after us!"
Its challenges include the shoal banks of the Solent, the tidal gates at the Channel Islands, the shipping lanes of the English Channel and the ever-changing weather conditions and sea-state faced throughout the 1000-mile racecourse.
Where does this race fit in to The Race Around’s 2023 event?
With The Race Around soon to publish its Notice of Race and qualification protocol, we’re excited to see Class40 action return. This edition is sure to once again provide a great introduction to the season ahead, one in which the fleet welcomes a multitude of new teams and new boats bound for the Route du Rhum in 2022 and The Race Around in 2023. The Normandy Channel Race provides a real test of a competitor’s ability and its uniqueness positions it perfectly as one we’ll look to use as part of our qualification process.
Image Credits: Thomas Deregnieaux