Please select your home edition
Ocean Safety 2021 - LEADERBOARD

14th CIC Normandy Channel Race - Day 5: Taking on the passage of Le Raz Blanchard

by Sirius Evenements 9 Jun 09:06 BST 8 June 2023
CIC Normandy Channel Race © Jean-Marie Liot

The skippers in this 2023 edition of the CIC Normandy Channel Race are currently negotiating the sprint back up the English Channel. In reality, the situation is akin to a final gruelling ascent with Caen at its summit.

Indeed, the valiant Class40 sailors are negotiating an intense NE'ly breeze, serving up 25 knots of established upwind conditions, gusting to 36 knots, amidst a backdrop of heavy seas that are hard to handle. Inevitably both crews and boats are feeling the pressure, which has led to some on-board damage and some retirements. Before the liberation on the finish line off Ouistreham and a well-deserved return to land, they seem to have opted to go around the Channel Islands before taking on the passage of Le Raz Blanchard, famed for its mighty currents.

Despite the tough conditions, the race is still in full swing. After Lizard Point, two strategic options were on offer to the duos, who had to once again make a radical decision, which involved either heading north, hugging the Cornish and Devon coast to shelter from the wind and the current before plunging southwards towards the Cotentin peninsula, or opting for a more direct but perhaps more rash trajectory to the south straight across the English Channel in the teeth of a gale.

As was previously the case, the two pelotons have ended up crossing tacks again before the Channel Islands for the most part. As the fleet squeezes up together again, Alla Grande Pirelli (181), Crédit Mutuel (158) and Legallais (190), three boats favouring the N'ly option, are monopolising the provisional podium places.

Beware though, as Ambrogio Beccaria explained at today's radio link-up, it is never done and dusted in this highly unique race: "The race is far from over. In the CIC Normandy Channel Race, you may think that everything's going smoothly and that the result is in the bag, then all of a sudden, you're right back to square one and all that you have worked so hard for has gone up in a puff of smoke. As such, we're putting all our effort into staying focused and not getting caught out." Over the past few hours, the Italo-French duo has been extending away from the fleet and now boasts a lead of some 8 nautical miles over its direct rival. However, thanks to past editions of the major Norman classic, we've learned to remain cautious about the verdict, right to the last.

With most of the sailors having decided to negotiate their way through the Channel Islands, it would seem that they are trying to line themselves up nicely for the last tricky section of the course: Le Raz Blanchard and what is reputed to be one of the strongest tidal currents in Europe. At the end of every edition, the skippers dread this big chunk of racetrack without really any idea what the situation will be like once they get there. Having the tide in your favour as you take it on would greatly reduce the chance of a tumble down the leader board.

However, timing it so that you're punching tide as you round the Cotentin peninsula would likely involve heading a long way out to sea or pebble-hopping down the coast, which could certainly reshuffle the cards prior to the final sprint. We can well imagine that Crédit Mutuel (158), Project Rescue Ocean (162), Legallais (190) and IBSA (186) will remain on the hunt, ready to pounce the second there is even the slightest chance of snatching the lead from the clutches of Alla Grande Pirelli (181). Given the current situation out on the racetrack, we can expect the denouement of this 14th edition early tomorrow morning. Stay tuned as victory could well go right to the wire, once again...

Find out more at

Related Articles

14th CIC Normandy Channel Race Prize Giving
Held at noon today in Caen The prize-giving for the CIC Normandy Channel Race took place at noon today in Caen. The Italo-French crew on Alla Grande Pirelli lifted the crown, rounding off this splendid 14th edition of the great Norman classic in style. Posted on 11 Jun
14th CIC Normandy Channel Race winner
Alla Grande Pirelli wins, just 33 minutes ahead of Crédit Mutuel After last night's impassioned struggle around Le Raz Blanchard and a final sprint across the Baie de Seine, ultimately victory went to the Class40 Alla Grande Pirelli (181) in this 14th edition of the CIC Normandy Channel Race. Posted on 9 Jun
14th CIC Normandy Channel Race Day 4
The pack slinks eastwards en masse With the Fastnet ticked off for most of the fleet, the Class40s are now making for the south-west tip of England. Squashed together, the duos competing are close-hauled so conditions aboard are much less comfortable than they've had so far. Posted on 7 Jun
14th CIC Normandy Channel Race Day 3
Beautiful racing along the Emerald Isle The bulk of the fleet in this 14th CIC Normandy Channel Race has now rounded the Tuskar Rock course mark. Alla Grande Pirelli (181) had the edge at the south-east tip of Ireland after being the first to leave the lighthouse in her wake. Posted on 6 Jun
14th CIC Normandy Channel Race Day 2
English tactics After a tactical passage along the south coast of England, Groupe SNEF's strategic decision to hunt down more breeze offshore before heading back to the coast to benefit from a favourable current has paid dividends. Posted on 5 Jun
14th CIC Normandy Channel Race underway
A spectacular start as the Class 40s put the pedal to the metal After a little less than a week on show in the port of Caen in northern France, the crews were more than excited to put pedal to the metal! In teams of two, ultimately some 60 sailors set sail today on the 14th edition of the CIC Normandy Channel Race. Posted on 4 Jun
Make way for the claimants to the Normandy Throne
The stage is set in Caen for the CIC Normandy Channel Race The stage is set at Quai Vendeuvre in Caen for another edition of the CIC Normandy Channel Race. Once again, the event devised and created by Sirius Évènements continues to go from strength to strength. Posted on 3 Jun
CIC Normandy Channel Race preview
A 14th edition to accompany the Class40's journey onwards and upwards The Class40 has really gone from strength to strength with close to 200 craft built since the creation of the series. Indeed, there are not many examples of a class of offshore racing boats of identical size enjoying such success. Posted on 8 Oct 2022
Normandy Channel Race every inch a classic
An historic 30 boats, an unprecedentedly high calibre line-up Even before the starting gun fired, the 13th CIC Normandy Channel Race was expected to be a record-breaking edition. Posted on 22 May 2022
Crédit Mutuel wins Normandy Channel Race
Ian Lipinski and Ambrogio Beccaria arrive first after 4 days 15 hours of racing After an extremely tight final night of intense and amazing fighting, ultimately it is Crédit Mutuel, which takes the win in this 13th edition of the CIC Normandy Channel Race. Posted on 20 May 2022