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Normandy Channel Race Day 6: The unbearable sprint finish

by Sirius Events 24 May 2019 17:27 BST 24 May 2019
Normandy Channel Race 2019 © David Branigan / Oceansport

The competitors in this 10th Normandy Channel Race are on the home straight. With all the Class40s now sailing in the English Channel bound for Ouistreham via the Cotentin Peninsula, it is impossible to announce the future champion of this anniversary edition.

The suspense has reached its peak at every level of the fleet. Will we relive the same unbearable match race that went right to the wire last year? The final act beckons in just a few hours' time!

Who would have guessed that we'd have to experience suspense of such intensity once more? And yet, the history of the sprint finish is about to be repeated in this very special race. Some 90 nautical miles from the finish line set off Ouistreham as we go to press, Aïna Enfance et Avenir and Eärendil are absolutely neck and neck. Indeed, the two leaders, Aymeric Chappellier with Pierre Brasseur and Pietro Luciani with Pablo Santurde del Arco, are giving it everything they've got in the bid to snatch the highest step of the podium, but it could still go either way.

Astern of them, the situation is no clearer. A gybing battle to the south-east of Lizard Point is raging. The nine crews are now squeezed into an 8-mile radius. Suffice to say that from the 3rdplaced boat right the way to 11th, every one of them is still in with a chance of completing the podium in this 10thedition of the Normandy Channel Race. Here too, the crew on Colombre XL is posting an impressive performance on the older generation Class40 number 101, which is continuing its frenetic duelling with the German-Norman pairing aboard Cape Racing Yachts, the latter fresh out of the box and making its competitive debut.

Not far behind, the Lorient-based Breton crew on Beijaflore remain in ambush. It's also interesting to note the southerly position of the local of the leg, one Louis Duc, who's attempting one last option to try to make the difference as he rekindles his ties with Norman waters. In contrast, the Class40 Yoda is gunning for a northerly option, on a more direct course towards the infamous Raz Blanchard. Positioning on the race zone and clean manuvres will be vital if they are to come out on top.

For the last hours of the race, a W/NW'ly wind, forcing the boats to gybe their way down the racetrack to the finish line, will pick up to 20 knots by late evening. However, overnight, the wind is likely to drop away to about 10 knots, allowing the competitors to slip along the home straight. However, it certainly won't be a straight road with the rounding of the TSS and the negotiation of the Cotentin Peninsula on the cards.

Whilst the split between the two leaders and the rest of the fleet stretched to 26 hours at Tuskar Rock, it will likely shrink down to just 6 hours on the finish line. The denouement in the battle between Eärendil and Aïna Enfance et Avenir is expected to take place tomorrow morning, at first light, whilst the chasing pack should make the Baie de Seine by mid to late morning on Saturday.

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