Campagne de France crossed the finish line off Ouistreham at 1728 on Friday 16th September after 5 days, 0 hours, 28 minutes and 2 seconds. The boat covered the 960 miles of theoretical course at an average speed of 7.93 knots. In reality, the distance sailed was 1 088 miles, at an average speed of 9.04 knots. The team finished 6 hours and 46 minutes behind the winners, Talès II, having slowed down at the Casquets, and having just missed the tide gate. With no chance of catching the boats ahead and nowhere to tie up in Ouistreham while awaiting the evening lock, with the wind gusting 35 knots from north-northwest, there seemed no point in breaking anything.
Halvard and Miranda had said before the start that the level of competition was particularly high in this 7th edition of the Normandy Channel Race, with at least a dozen boats capable of winning. Most teams have been out on the water racing all season and know their boats extremely well. Campagne de France only tasted saltwater for the first time a couple of months before the start, her crew having spent the better part of a year and a half mostly in the yard. Halvard and Miranda were reasonably well-placed in the first 24 hours of the race, but it was the passage at Land’s End into the Celtic Sea which proved to be difficult for much of the fleet, the first boats escaping north just before the wind died, the rest becalmed, followed by a strong northerly wind and atrocious short seas right on the nose, turning the race more into an exercise in boat preservation. Having sheltered (relative term…) in the lee of Ireland to effect some repairs, Campagne de France rounded Tuskar in the black of night, the scene looking like something out of a horror film, sharp black waves outlined in the loom of the lighthouse with spray flying horizontally. It seems Campagne de France was lucky not to have caught a lobster pot, as was the case for some others, who found themselves suddenly pointing straight at the lighthouse before luckily breaking free. The next leg to the Fastnet was relatively straightforward, reaching, squalls over 30 knots, but on approach, the wind died completely, and Campagne de France was again in the company of Serenis Consulting (Galfione – Troussel) and Generali Horizon Mixité (Joschke – Gautier) for a long time, watching sails approaching over the horizon from astern, two of which sailed straight past just a few hundred metres away. There ensued a good battle downwind, with holes in the wind, all the way to Land’s End and the various forbidden Traffic Separation Schemes. Once in the Channel, the wind filled in to 30+ knots, with boat speeds often over 20 knots. Halvard and Miranda chose to slow down due to a mix of minor technical issues and in part their position on the learning curve of their new boat, finishing 11th out of a fleet of 27 starters.
An interesting race, lots learnt, lots still to learn. The job list has just got longer, so no respite for now! 2017 will be a busy season, and there is much to be done before then.
Campagne de France