A Summer Holiday

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A Summer Holiday:

For the first time in what seems like a while Miranda Merron and Halvard Mabire have granted themselves a few days off this summer! Since Campagne de France was launched Miranda and Halvard have raced and raced covering a little over 20,000 miles with many of those in punishing seas. Halvard, who not only sails her but also built and designed the vessel is certainly proud of the solid and reliable build. The hull is strong and fantastic when sailing close to the wind. He does however regret a certain lack of power when reaching and bearing. Both things that the duo are trying to correct with one eye on the 2018 Route du Rhum in which Miranda will compete in.

Second in the European Trophy:
The European Trophy was created in 2017 with the aim of rewarding boats for competing in Class 40 events excluding transatlantic races. Phil Sharp’s British-European team Imerys comprehensively dominated this first edition. The trophy takes in The Grand Prix Guyader, Normandy Channel Race, Armen Race, Les Sables-Horta and the Rolex Fastnet.

Halvard who is the Class40 President said this of The European Trophy “The European Trophy highlights the vitality and diversity on offer within the Class 40 race programme. While primarily designed for transoceanic racing, Class 40s also make for appealing boats for any offshore racing. With the ever-increasing level of competition in Class 40, it is important to reward performance. Congratulations to team Imerys on their victory!”

Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France finished a fantastic second and can also be proud of what they have achieved in the many RORC races they have entered. They currently sit in first place with only a few races left. We will find out if they have maintained first place in November beating off no less than 26 Class 40s for this prestigious title.

Our thoughts are with those in the Caribbean…
Words from Halvard:
“We are particularly affected by the hurricanes that have relentlessly battered a part of the world we love so very much. We have many friends in the Caribbean. Over the decades many races have driven us to these beautiful islands and strong ties have been forged. Again last winter during our Caribbean season we had the opportunity to meet people, build relationships and while Hurricane Irma has destroyed much of the infrastructure it cannot destroy friendships and the strength the Caribbean people hold so dear.

More generally the violence of this phenomenon is unfortunately only confirming what we have been feeling and seeing whilst at sea. Weather events are increasing in frequency and increasing in brutality. That is a certainty. Of course, global warming must have some involvement. An increase in ocean surface temperatures, even very low is now without its effects on thermal and condensing exchanges with air masses flowing over the seas. This certainly helps to amplify the troubles. That is a statement and is not up for debate.

Secondly, the debate on whether or not mankind can take any responsibility for global warming. This debate is on going and opinions are opposed but I know my thoughts. I remember as a child when my elders said “with their sputniks and their rockets, they are going to screw up this beautiful world.” The more I advance with age the more I would like to think that the earth is sending us signs to tell us that we must not continue as we are. We may have to deal with some things a little differently and have a little more respect for nature. Irma is not a fatality, but a natural phenomenon. A hard lesson that must be given with humility, as a warning and it is not something that is preventable through legislature or by officials. There is no doubt that recent events have and will continue to bring untold misery to those affected but perhaps it reminds us of the full force of nature and that we understand we as men and women are merely a guest on planet earth and that men of law are not much in front of the laws of nature and their gods. »

As always you’re able to follow Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France online and for shorter updates on Facebook.

The Myth of Malham awaits

Campagne de France remains faithful to the RORC series!
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After a winter competing in major Caribbean races organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France now have European racing at the forefront of their minds. Having recently placed fifth in the highly competitive eighth edition of the Normandy Channel Race Campagne de France is now making its way across the English Channel heading for Cowes to race in the RORC organised Myth of Malham.

The race around Eddystone Lighthouse is one of the most popular races in a Rolex Fastnet Race year, mirroring as it does, the start and first 130nm miles of the seasons main RORC event. The course once again takes in some of the most challenging and complicated tidal waters that Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France recently covered during the Normandy Channel Race. A course totaling 256nm sees crews leave Cowes on Saturday 27thMay.

Halvard said yesterday “We leave for England tomorrow (today)” “These RORC Races are a little too unknown in France. They are remarkably organised, highly competitive and provide a good opportunity to share stories after racing” This year Miranda and Halvard will race alongside Ronan de Kersauzon. “One of our priorities for the season is to win the RORC Championship, and the Myth of Malham is an important race for that and also as a practice start for the Fastnet. » commented Miranda. « For a Class40, a 250-mile race is a sprint and especially as we are three up, I doubt if we will really get any proper sleep. With water ballast we hardly ever have crew on the rail but with stacking permitted, short tacking is physically exhausting, as we move everything to the windward side of the boat. This is often done very enthusiastically, so I tend to wear a crash helmet when the kit is flying around. There is a very competitive fleet for the Myth of Malham, and we expect the result to be very close. »

A good result in the Myth of Malham will further cement Campagne de France at the head of the 2017 RORC Season’s Championship within the Class40 class having previously obtained a first place in the RORC Transatlantic and second in the RORC 600.

5th Place for Campagne de France

18491751_649768725214564_8967199407389048099_oThe Class40 Campagne de France cut the line in 5th position of this 8th edition of the Normandy Channel Race at 07H17MIN22S!
Harvard Mabire and Miranda Merron crossed the line less than a minute after the 4th after 4D14H47M22S at sea! 🏁

They did 1066 miles at an average speed of 9.62 knots and crossed the finish line 3H31MIN32S after the winner Imerys.

More information to follow shortly.

The 2017 Normandy Channel Race: Guernsey to port..!

3bb1a356-58d8-46c9-993e-83f16ff5b93fThe descent from Fastnet Rock to Lands End and the English Channel has been a stark contrast to the conditions faced by crews in the first few days of racing. Downwind sailing in 15-20knots of breeze and surfing with the big spinnaker has put a smile on the face of Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France! Miranda wrote this afternoon and said: “A glorious day of downwind surfing under beautiful blue skies. We are currently hunting Cap des Palmes (project on-going). As usual the ‘grib’ files are underestimating conditions – apparently we should have 12 knots of wind and we are currently experiencing 22 knots, usually when we have to gybe! It certainly makes it a little more exciting and/or hazardous. A swift rearrangement of Campagne de France’s interior is certainly required prior to each gybe in order to keep the mast pointing skywards! So far, so good..!”

With 133.3nm remaining Campagne de France is expected finish tomorrow morning in very close proximity to other competitors.  Campagne de France is currently in fifth position just 10 miles behind second place Serenis Consulting who are positioned to the North East. The next 50 miles will be crucial as teams leave Guernsey to port and try to find the fastest way through some very complicated and tidal waters! Miranda and Halvard’s local knowledge will surely come into play in the coming hours.

Rankings: 20h00 (French)
1st: Imerys
2nd: Serenis Consulting
3rd: V&B
4th: Evernex – Delicecook
5th: Campagne de France

Campagne de France sails into third!

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Miranda, Halvard and their trusty Class40 Campagne de France have enjoyed a fantastic twenty four hours and now sit in third place. Below is the first proper message received from the crew onboard Campagne de France and it tells you all you need to know about the race so far..!
« Hello everyone, finally a few minutes of crossable road to be able to tap on the keyboard! This Normandy Channel Race is intense and it is by no means finished! Since the start the pace has been sustained and the conditions not always as one would wish for. Tuskar kept up with its reputation as somewhere you would not want to hang out. Since leaving Tuskar in our rear-view mirror the route to Fastnet was kind to us although the conditions again proved difficult. It must have been a spectacle to watch the tracker with Class40s scattered all over the Celtic Sea in a puzzle like fashion. Miranda and I have enjoyed playing this game of chess and still wonder what shots others will play..!

Early this morning we received a nice word from our race organisers who reminded us to take photos of the iconic maritime landmarks this race passes.” And Halvard was quick to remind the committee that whilst passing these important landmarks the duos competing are generally busy completing manoeuvres. Add in 25 knots of breeze and an unpredictable sea state it makes taking pictures difficult! That said Miranda was quick to say if conditions permit photos would be a priority. Especially if one can pose or a competitor is behind you and in picture!

Since receiving the message above Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France have had the hammer down. Their progression up the fleet has been impressive and the downwind conditions are suiting Campagne de France. It would seam that Imerys has taken this race by the scruff of its neck and the British/Spanish duo have sailed a fantastic race. That said all is not over and Serenis Consulting who currently sit in second are firmly in sights as they sit some 5 miles ahead of Miranda and Halvard. Halvard sustained an injury to his shoulder in an unintentional manoeuvre but he is fine and for all that know him this slight knock will prove nothing more than a minor inconvenience as they continue to push for a podium position in a race so dear to Campagne de France.

Rankings: 16h45 (French)
1: Imerys
2: Serenis Consulting
3: Campagne de France (41.4nm from 1st)
4: Sensation Class40
5: Calvados

The 2017 Normandy Channel Race: Tuskar Rounded..!

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The 2017 Normandy Channel Race: Tuskar Rounded..!
Since the start of the 2017 Normandy Channel Race the twenty four crews competing knew this was going to be no walk in the park. After a difficult forty-eight hours Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France have overcome the horrible conditions to come from eleventh this morning to sixth having rounded Tuskar Rock in the early hours of this afternoon.

Now back in the leading group having exercised caution since crossing the English Channel on Sunday night, Campagne de France has wisely played a game of moderation during the most brutal section of the race as the fleet passed along the south coast and across the often difficult Lyme Bay. This morning’s steady rise to the lighthouse on Tusker Rock, in the south east of Ireland has allowed Miranda and Halvard to gradually return to the leaders despite a rough and confused sea state which halted the boat in the trough of every wave.

Having rounded the third race mark the crews now face a 140nm upwind slog which is sure to be uncomfortable and potentially boat breaking as they try to reach Fastnet before heading for home via Guernsey. Halvard says « We are under two reefs and the staysail and are preparing ourselves for twelve hours of dreaded slamming in a very choppy sea. We are 16 miles from the leader and see our arrival in Caen on Friday morning. »

The conditions have not just been felt by those onboard Campagne de France but across the whole fleet. Yesterday afternoon the public was informed of four retirements suffering equipment failure and personal injury. Phorty sailed by Pip Hare and Peter Harding seemingly hit the hardest when Co-skipper Peter took a fall and injured his back. It is understood Phorty was able to make it ashore without assistance but our thoughts are with Peter and our fingers crossed for a speedy recovery!

Another example of the extreme conditions encountered by competitors was a minor incident at midday today involving Claire Pruvot and Louis Duc onboard Calvados. Having taken a real pasting in unstable seas their distress beacon was unintentionally activated, prompting an immediate response from the Irish coastguard. Due to the noise onboard Calvados as they continued to push upwind neither Claire nor Louis could hear the Coastguard calling and it was left to Miranda, who heard the call to get a visual and check everything was okay onboard. Without response from Calvados herself, the coastguard visited the vessels location as a precautionary measure only to find two wet, competitive and perhaps confused sailors on board.Ranking: 19h30 (French)
1st: Imerys
2nd: V&B
3rd: Serenis Consulting
4th: Sensation Class40
5th: Calvados
———————————————–
6th: Campagne de France.
DTL: 14.6nm

The 2017 Normandy Channel Race Begins…

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Campagne de France: The Normandy Channel Race Begins..!

The 8th edition of the Normandy Channel Race got off to a fantastic start yesterday with good breeze and beautiful sunshine. From noon, the 24 teams competing on board their Class40s began the traditional parade along the Orne canal, bound for Ouistreham and its lock gates with large crowds applauding the crews as they entered into the English Channel.

The Normandy Channel Race, a favourite of many is a fantastic race encompassing nearly all conditions along its 1000-mile course and is sure to provide tight and competitive racing right until the finish. This year’s race started no differently with competitors concentrating on the complex weather that was ahead. During the first few hours the wind shifted round from the North–East to the South–West favouring those at the head of the fleet as they made their way to Luc Sur Mer and back onto Saint Marcouf Island before making their way across the English Channel and onto the complex waters of the Solent.

Race favourites, British-Spanish duo Phil Sharp and Pablo Santurde onboard Imerys started as expected as they powered into the lead and rounded the first mark of the race off the Cotentin peninsula however it was former Atlanta Olympian Jean Galfione onboard his new Serenis Consulting assisted by co-skipper and former Normandy Channel Race winner Nicolas Trousel who took the honour of being first into the Solent.

The entire fleet have now rounded the Isle of Wight and make their way to Wolf Rock and Lands End before crossing the Celtic sea on approach to Tuskar Rock. The fleet is benefiting from a solid South South Westerly that is currently building inline with forecasts and the race website confirms that it is raining, it’s cold and it’s grey but conditions are favourable for speed with sheets slightly eased. They report a bracing day ahead and it would be hard to do anything but agree..!

Rankings: 12h00 (Fr)

1st: V&B
2nd: Serenis Consulting
3rd: Imerys
4th: Sensation Class40
5th: Région Normandie – LMAX
———————————————–
10th: Campagne de France.
DTL: 10.32nm

We will of course be updating you daily, for shorter updates please follow our Facebook page (url below) and for race tracking (updated every 15 minutes) please follow this link: http://www.normandy-race.com/index/followrace/idnews/31

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Halvard-Mabire-and-Miranda-Merron-Sailing-team-126461740755474/

Until tomorrow,
Team Campagne de France

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RORC Transatlantic – A winning day..!

Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France take the Class win in the 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race having crossed the finishing line at 14h37 UTC today after a difficult and sometimes frustrating 15 days at sea! Their first Transatlantic in their new Class40 and their first win will surely set the trio up for a good winter training session before returning to European waters!

Below are Miranda’s last updates as they approached Grenada;

Race Facts:
Distance Sailed: 3246nm
Finish Time: 11th December 14h37 UTC
Corrected Elapsed: 15 Days, 2 Hours, 37 Minutes and 53 seconds.
Average Speed: 8.95 knots

9th December:
It’s been a bit full on of late. We are taking it in turns helming the boat in quite a sea state. Big swell from the northeast, further swell from the southeast, plus 1.5 – 2 knots of current flowing from the North-northeast. None of which is overly helpful. Up to 30 knots of breeze at times, in cold sharp downdrafts, whereas the wind the rest of the time is warm and humid. At times, Campagne de France is at the top of a decent sized ski slope of a wave, accelerating fast down the face and there isn’t always an exit at the bottom of the hill. Spray everywhere, but rarely does it get the driver.

The sea got a little more organised before sunset, presumably just to lull us into a false sense of security as night falls! Numerous flying fish, mostly returned to the sea if they haven’t managed to flip-flap there way back to fly another day. Scales everywhere, which is just delightful.

10th December:
Cumulobeasties seem to be growing out of nowhere in the moonlight. The air is very unstable, wind speed between 18 – 30 knots, sometimes shifting right and putting the boat slightly across the waves. One of these waves has just rudely landed on the boat and straight on top of me. Luckily the water is warm. We have the equivalent of two thirds of a Fastnet Race left to go to the finish, 400 miles or so, which naturally we won’t be able to do in a straight line!

11th December:
It’s just past sunrise on what should be our last day of the RORC Transatlantic Race – 30 miles to the waypoint south of Grenada and a few miles more to the finish. The stunning night was only interrupted by one squall packing 40 knots, and one gybe that also included the usual rearrangement of the interior decor.

Yesterday we made the most of the watermaker, loads of fresh water heated in the sunshine – showers in the cockpit rather than at the back given the waves. Being clean was of course only short-lived. Salty all over again after an alteration with the spinnaker which had been reefed but the zip which holds all the cloth in unzipped itself, effectively turning itself into a masthead sail being flown from a fractional halyard, and therefore dangerously close to the water. If we are flying a reefed sail, it’s generally because conditions dictate it, and therefore retrieving the sail intact on deck can be slightly challenging. And wet!
The VHF has just crackled into life for the first time in almost 2 weeks. Reading the Sailing Instructions for the finish procedure is now allowed.

More to follow shortly.

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RORC Transatlantic – 13 days at sea:

After 13 days of racing Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France have maintained their 1st place position in the Class40 category in the 2016 RORC Transatlantic. Below are communications from Miranda and Halvard as they continue to extend on 2nd placed Earendil. Campagne de France currently has 798.8nm remaining but holds a lead of just shy of 200nm.

2nd December:

We must have read the wrong brochure. Trade wind route it isn’t. Still upwind since the night before last, but on the way to better things, although the wind is refusing to match the forecast at the moment. Upwind = bouncing/ slamming off waves and into troughs. Getting water into the Jetboil and then pouring boiling water into a mug and keeping the contents in it while placing the lid on it are activities best undertaken in foul weather gear and boots despite the heat. Yesterday afternoon we crossed tacks with a sailing boat called Hot Stuff, having given them a fly by while heading in the wrong direction when we had to sail downwind for a few minutes to repair something. We spoke to them on the VHF and it transpired that they are competing in the ARC (finish St Lucia). They must also be wondering whether the trade winds aren’t just a myth, and I think the ARC started a week before the RORC Transatlantic Race. Every 4 hours, we receive a position report (or punishment report depending on performance), where we see how Campagne de France, or more precisely her crew, has fared against the competition. There are still 2000 miles of race course to go, many more miles than that to sail as the direct route is closed, at least if we want to get to the finish this year, and a lot can happen in that time.

4th December:

Over a week of racing and not yet half way. Sometimes respectable breeze, sometimes next to nothing, sometimes some clouds that look like nascent trade wind clouds. Just to tempt us. Every time the wind speed changes, so does the interior decor of the boat. Stacking is permitted in the Class40 rules (with the exception of a few items), and moving all the sails, spares, tools, water, food etc plays an integral part in boat performance. On Campagne de France, stacking is done scientifically and neatly under the command of the stacking master. There has been ample opportunity for practice so far. We have a watermaker on board – a great asset both in the amount of water to shift around the boat (ie considerably less than boats which are carrying enough water for the entire race) and for the extra fresh water it produces for non-salt water washing – luxury!

5th December:

Sunday was spent under a layer of cloud and not much wind. The 4 hourly school reports were all marked « can do better ». We have now found our way out into what feel like proper trade winds. About time too as we are already at 16° N. Weird crossed swell and difficult to see the waves since the moon set hours ago. Anyway, we occupied our light airs Sunday with (apart from trying to sail faster) making loads of water with the watermaker for fresh water showers and laundry. While thinking of those boats not equipped with a watermaker, and given how long this race is taking, hoping that they aren’t having to ration their drinking water. Almost halfway there!

6th December:

After a night of unstable breeze, a few baby squall-type creatures before dawn, we now have passable trade winds. At the request of my nieces, Alice and Eleanor, we have been keeping a look out for Father Christmas should he do a fly-by in this part of the world. I think it’s more likely to be at night as otherwise the reindeer risk sunburn and heatstroke. There are possibly some children on boats crossing the Atlantic who have been good this year and written a polite letter.

7th December:

We have gybed and are now heading in the general direction of Grenada, which makes a change. Rather ominous sky – just to the south it looks like either the doldrums which are further north than normal, or something equally malevolent. One street of trade wind clouds visible in the murkiness just to the north.

 

You can follow the race online at:

http://rorctransatlantic.rorc.org/tracking/2016-fleet-tracking.html

https://www.facebook.com/Halvard-Mabire-and-Miranda-Merron-Sailing-team-126461740755474/?fref=ts

www.mirandamerron.com

 

The RORC Transatlantic Begins..!

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The RORC Transatlantic begins: Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France started the RORC Transatlantic on Saturday 26th November beginning what is the first Transatlantic on board their new and improved Class40. In front of them is 2995 miles of racing from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, south to Grenada in the Caribbean. They race against one other Class40 – Earendil who is the same generation as Campagne de France albeit with more miles under her hull. As normal Miranda and Halvard have stuck to their speciality of sailing together whereas Earendil is crewed. Below are Miranda’s update from the first couple of days at sea.

27th November:

Having rinsed the desert sand off the deck we left for Marina Lanzarote and headed for the start line in sunshine and light breeze, closely followed by an evil little squall which kindly cleared just before the start. With a race mark just off Puerto Calero we were treated to some spectacular views of the coastline. Our start was reasonable and we are now slamming gently upwind as Tenerife has to be left to port and there are various traffic separation schemes which are verboten!

28th November:

Almost dawn, and a long night of slamming upwind. For those that don’t know slamming upwind is torturous and Class40 hell! At least we don’t have to sit on the rail and hike out! Wind is going from 10 to 20+ knots with the occasional short squall. Two tacks to avoid the forbidden traffic separation scheme (and the few ships not in the TSS) and Tenerife. The weather is complicated with none of the promised trade winds in sight! We have reverted to reading the tea leaves but it is a little difficult to keep the tea in the mug with all of this bouncing around! Later that day Miranda wrote again: Not that much to photograph on a 40ft boat with a population of two. The winds are light and swirly, it’s been difficult getting past the mountains including the 3700ft peak on Tenerife and their effect on the wind. Two large squalls are lining up to windward so imminent activities will entail. The gennaker must be furled, ballast tanks filled and getting rained on wondering whether we can hang on for a few minutes with the 25-30knot gusts without reducing more sail since there will only be 4 knots in its wake! Hours later Miranda wrote: “We escaped relatively unscathed from the last squallmonster which then parked itself against the mountains of Tenerife, swallowing everything behind. Campagne de France is now sailing between La Palma and Gomera and we hope the wind shadow of the former doesn’t eat us!”

29th November:

Campagne de France is ghosting along in wind speed of 1 to 5 knots, occasionally gusting 7knots, wind direction shifting around by 60 degrees. Dark moonless night and not a soul in sight. It’s quite peaceful, dry and not cold. Path (Baltic 112) occasionally appears on the AIS some 17 miles to the north of us. I’m not sure what life is like on board for them but I’m fairly certain they didn’t dine on the freeze-dried food straight from the packaging and there are probably several people on watch. After the rather busy start to the race with multiple sail changes, manoeuvres to get through and away from the Canaries and various evil clouds, we are now catching up on food and sleep! At this speed we could be here for some time.

30th November:

We continued to be pestered by large wind-sucking cloud systems for much of the night and early morning, until four sail changes and a lot of persistence set the boat free from the last tenacious cell shortly after sunrise – the only one left on the horizon – staying resolutely close enough to mess up the feeble breeze. We are now headed for a front, which means upwind and bad tempers on board as there is a firm belief on this boat that sailing upwind in anything over 12 knots should be banned. Nevertheless, wind at last and it’s building along with a south-easterly swell crossing existing northerly well. Wet on deck, overcast but miles in the right direction! This morning we were visited by a large whale, surfacing several times alongside the boat. The thrill of seeing such an extraordinary creature so close was slightly tinged with apprehension. The whale is after all several times larger, heavier and more solid than our beautiful Campagne de France.

At 12noon today Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France had sailed 737 nautical miles with 2181nm remaining. They are making 6.7 knots and have a healthy lead of 150nm over Earendil.

You can follow the race online at:

http://rorctransatlantic.rorc.org/tracking/2016-fleet-tracking.html

https://www.facebook.com/Halvard-Mabire-and-Miranda-Merron-Sailing-team-126461740755474/?fref=ts

www.mirandamerron.com