Halvard Retires

It’s with regret that we have to inform you that Halvard, Skipper of COLOMBRE XL has today retired from the 2018 Route du Rhum. While his boat does not have sever damage the list of smaller technical issues is ever increasing and with a new depression approaching and 3500 nautical miles of racing remaining the sensible decision is to return to Lorient.

More to follow soon.

One Week Down…

It’s crazy to think that the 123 sailors competing in the 2018 Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe have now completed their first week at sea. It’s been a fascinating race to watch so far and for the sailors competing each have had their own difficult decisions to make. For the race leaders, well they are now drinking Rum in the safety of Guadeloupe (Congratulations to race winner Francois Joyon). In the IMOCA fleet, the sole British entry Alex Thompson leads the way with 1500 miles remaining. For those competing within Class40 they’ve either just come through the fourth large North Atlantic depression or are restarting the race having made the decision to head for shelter and ultimately give up any chance of winning this edition, but happy in the knowledge that both they and their vessels are safe.

For our dynamic duo the race couldn’t be any different. Miranda bravely made the decision to push on, to tackle the angry North Atlantic and to push both herself and the boat she knows so well. Halvard made a different decision, one shared by the majority of the fleet with numerous Class40s spread across Brest, Lorient and Carmat Sur Mer to name a few. It’s been clear that Halvard’s goals for this race are different to that of Miranda’s. True to style Halvard’s astonishing level of seamanship, respect for his goals and the partners that share in this race a stop over was the correct decision for him.

Miranda’s race has been everything but easy and the repetition of depression after depression after depression has taken its toll over time. During the third storm Miranda reported seeing 55knots and was forced to change sails in ‘just’ 35! Her jobs list is ever increasing also and until Saturday mainsail damage prevented her from being able to hoist the main above the third reef. This is now been fixed and the boat is back up to full power!

In Miranda’s morning email she reported « Congratulations to Francis Joyon and IDEC!! For us it’s been another night of discovering new technical issues. The first week wasn’t good for the boat. However, no complaints – it’s getting light, the cumulo squall monsters are mostly to leeward and Campagne de France is heading for the trade winds. »

Halvard’s race to Guadeloupe resumed yesterday. He left the safety of Concerneau alongside a number of other competitors and the sense of camaraderie is clear. After conversations between all those that stopped with the intention of continuing it was decided they’d start together not only creating a race within a race but also to provide the strength in numbers should something untoward occur. The Class which Halvard is President of is very special indeed.


I have a poppy on the chart table and I have observed silence all day.

In the early hours of this morning, there was a loud bang and I thought that some important part of the boat had broken. However, the noise was the impact of the biggest flying fish I have ever seen. It measured 48 cm from nose to tail. I considered eating it, but things got a bit hectic in the front just after dawn – proper red sky in the morning, 38 knots, torrential rain, a tack to not get wrong in the shift (I saw this one coming and had pre-stacked all the gear on the new windward side beforehand, for once). Anyway the fish nearly went down the cockpit drain where it might have got stuck, so I consigned it to the deep.

Flying fish on Campagne de France (photo M Merron)
Attached is a photo – not another flying fish photo, I hear you say, but it really is quite big.

Miranda/ Campagne de France

Just one more!

Three low pressure systems down, one to go tonight. The past two have been boat-breaking and the next one promises more of the same. It’s the one marked « STORM » on the American synoptic charts heading for the UK/ France tomorrow. Top wind speed in yesterday’s horror show was 55 knots. A sail change in ‘just’ 35  knots cost me 9 miles in the wrong direction. When things go wrong and it’s windy, it takes a while to sort out, especially alone. I will prepare early for tonight’s entertainment, which is promising 30 – 35 knots for almost 24 hours, so there will be more. I have been living in my Ursuit drysuit for the past few days – excellent – it really is dry. It’s not coming off anytime soon! At times it has been so rough that moving anywhere is risky, so I have also been wearing my crash helmet down below.
It must be almost dawn, but still deep black night, impossible to tell the sea from the sky. Civilised wind speed and direction now, and it’s almost dry on deck. I got stuck in a no-wind hole for a while, so did some repairs, including a sail which is now aloft. The job list is quite long! If I had been closer to land, I would have made a pit-stop.
All those competitors who went to seek shelter made a smart move!

End of Biscay

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After two and a half days of racing, 46 of the 123 sailors racing in the 2018 edition of the Route du Rhum found shelter in port. Those still racing are now in the midst of their third front, with its powerful westerly winds and disgruntled sea state.

Miranda and her Class40 Campagne de France were among those that chose to continue racing, to risk the conditions but perhaps reap the reward. This morning she was in 15th position in a fleet of 53 and 125 miles from the leader Yoann Richomme.

Miranda, whilst keeping a careful eye on her competition, sails carefully. She continues to bide her time whilst carefully nursing Campagne de France through every wave and every gust. Perhaps it’s time for another ‘cuppa’!


The First 24 Hours of the Route du Rhum are complete!

IMG_0412It’s fair to say that the 11th edition and 40th anniversary of the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe got underway in spectacular fashion yesterday afternoon as a record entry of 123 skippers crossed the start line of this 3,542-nautical mile course.

Conditions were perfect for sailors and spectators alike as the fleet enjoyed a stable 20 knot southerly. To say the fleets crossing of the start line was conservative would be an understatement however aware of the penalty attributed (a four hour time penalty to be taken when informed by the Race Committee) this was hardly surprising.

Miranda and Halvard stuck close to one another at the mid to rear of the Class40 fleet but soon started to open the throttle on approach to Cape Fréhel where thousands of spectators lay in wait.

Upon passing Cape Fréhel the next task was to decide how best to approach the very busy and restricted traffic separation system north west of Ushant. Two schools of thought became very clear. One was to pass to the North and the other to the South. It was interesting to see our two sailors opting for different routes with Halvard making significant inroads north while Miranda passed to the South. It the short term it would appear the southernly route paid dividends however with two large depressions due to hit the fleet within hours much of the fleet will cease from pushing the boat at all with several opting for the safety of Lorient.

Onboard Campagne de France and Colombre XL we have two extremely experienced skippers with the upmost respect for their boats. While it’s not going to be fun for them they know what to do.


The Route du Rhum Awaits

As with all major french races the size of the set up, the number of fans and the amount of attention is mind-blowing. Saint Malo is currently home to 123 racing boats spanning six classes, their crews and an enormous number of spectators looking to soak up the atmosphere whilst viewing some of the most technically advanced boats to have ever graced this historic city.

Class40 once again provides the largest fleet with no less than 53 competitors. A record fleet helping the 2018 Route du Rhum cement its place as the largest sailing event in France. Within that 53 are Miranda (Campagne de France) and Halvard (COLOMBRE XL) who have as always been busy making final preparations, meeting members of the media and entertaining their sponsors.

With four days to go until the start the jobs list is getting smaller and attention is turning to weather forecasting, strategising and getting mentally prepared for what looks to be a brutally complicated first few days.

Royal SunAlliance: 20 Year Reunion

5632f477-c0d1-4ac6-937f-61d8f02ac1d60fb14db3-2645-4da3-b18f-83014305b6da0ca0e5b4-f763-48b0-b73e-f339a01b9d750ca0e5b4-f763-48b0-b73e-f339a01b9d75Miranda, Adrienne Cahalan, Emma Westmancott, Mikaela Von Koskull, Helena Darvelid, Hannah Harwood and Sam Davies gathered on Thursday, 25th October to celebrate 20 years since the all girls crew lead by Tracy Edwards embarked on their Trophée Jules Verne attempt onboard the Maxi Catamaran Royal Sun Alliance!
The record wasn’t to be but the crew have remained close and enjoyed a tour of ‘their’ old boat. Having started its life as Formula Tag before becoming ENZA and then RSA, the boat now carries the name ‘Energy Observer’ around the world whilst showcasing the efficiencies of hydrogen as a fuel.

Happy New Year

22861564_1480167542052034_1123287450020558217_o2018 is a big year for Campagne de France. The green boat is currently in winter refit and will be competing in numerous events from April onwards, including two solo qualifying races for the legendary solo Route du Rhum transatlantic race in November, which will see at least 40 Class40s on the start line. We look forward to sharing our news with you throughout the year!

We wish you a Happy New Year and fair winds for 2018!

Miranda & Halvard

Campagne de France Officially Retires..!

Campagne de France Officially Retires From The Transat Jacques Vabre…

At 13h01 on Tuesday Campagne de France suffered damage to their rudder system requiring Miranda, Halvard and their Class40 Campagne de France to head for shelter to access the extent of the damage sustained. The duo have now officially retired from the Transat Jacques Vabre and have returned to their home port of Cherbourg. Below is more information on what happened…

Following a fantastic start and perfectly executed passage through the first of two violent fronts, Miranda and Halvard had positioned themselves exactly where they wanted. Halvard commented that they could finally “let go of the reins and head south at speed with good hopes of a strong position on the fleet with a small leeward advantage”.

Unfortunately, at 13h01 precisely, Campagne de France broached without explanation at first. Halvard had just passed the helm back to the autopilot and the boat was surfing at between 15 and 18 knots. Conditions were almost ideal except the sea state was still problematic. The wind came from the north west at between 22 and 28 knots with the occasional gust of 35 knots plus. Perfect for fast VMG sailing!

Miranda said, “Usually we are able to bring the boat back relatively easily however this time we had no response from the helm. » It quickly became apparent that the port rudder was loose and the top bracket had ripped off. The rudder was held in place by only the lower bracket and soon after that also became loose with the rudder repeatedly hitting the hull. Miranda continued to say “We had to get the situation under control, the rudder was a real danger to the hull and the spinnaker had exploded. We had to get that down and wanted to bring back the pieces by socking the spinnaker. As we tried the spinnaker luff cable wrapped itself around the forestay and the genoa, blocking the bucket of the sock with only half of the spinnaker enclosed. After more than an hour of struggling, things everywhere and two very tired sailors we managed to get everything on deck and focused our attention to the secured but damaged rudder. After some time we managed to dismount the rudder and bring it onboard. Immediately the boat became so much more maneuverable however we could only sail on one tack.”

The closest port was Brest. Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France headed almost due north to be sure they’d reach land. The return meant two things. One, a probable retirement from a race that both the boat and crew were preforming in, and two, a return to very harsh upwind conditions with an aggressive sea and gusts of 46knots.

Halvard had this to say:

“Now that we have regained control and are moving safely towards Brittany we are beginning to understand the extent of the damage and are now trying to understand why this happened.

It is difficult to know if the rudder bracket broke because we fell back onto it in the rough conditions resulting in an incredible amount of force causing it to fail? We have sailed more than 20,000 miles and a similar system is found on almost all ‘Machs’ so this is unlikely. We have also found that the link bar on the steering system is defective, which could also be the origin of our early exit. Either way and whatever happened the repair list is large:

– Top port rudder bracket has been torn off and is completely twisted. Impossible to fix at first sight

– Low bracket attached but detached from the rudder

–  Damaged to the rudders composite

– The rudder itself is damaged

– Link bar to repair

– Fixings lost at sea (its hard to keep everything onboard when disassembling a unit like this in heavy seas)

– Medium spinnaker is irreparable (may peace be brought upon it and thank you for the good times)

– The hull should be inspected although the only damage should be small impacts to the skin at worst. » 

Miranda, Halvard and Campagne de France have now safely arrived into their home port of Cherbourg. They are both bitterly disappointed to have exited the race early but are pleased to be safe. The pair are relatively upbeat and are enjoying a small beer and some good food. The jobs list will no doubt grow in the coming days but rest assured that both are looking forward to a busy 2018. The additional time onshore will provide an opportunity to look at the boat in its entirety and perhaps find a little bit of time for themselves – stranger things have happened..!