This morning at 10:44:43 (FR) Phil Sharp and Sam Manuard crossed the finish line of the 7th edition of the Normandy Channel Race in 2nd place. Finishing just 2m and 49s after Tales II, setting a race time of 4d 17h 44m and 43s.

Phil as tactician proved remarkable skills throughout the race reaching all offshore marks in 1st place. Leading with a 7nm advantage yesterday, the duo would soon find their advantage compromised by notification of an enforced change of course. An 11.2nm course reduction removing the Guernsey mark was implemented for safety reasons in light of an impending gale set to hit the remainder of the fleet. Positioned further to the south Imerys was in perfect alignment with Guernsey when this strategy was made redundant, Phil comments, “I received a call from the race organisers asking me to check my email for a change of race course. On response to the notification we immediately took the necessary steps to re-address our tactics to change course. It was also at that point that we found a large clump of weed on the keel and a fishing line caught on the prop, so I had to do a couple of quick dives to remove and cut away this drag as it hugely impacts on boat speed.”

In a matter of hours Imerys had lost a 6nm lead on 2nd place leaving a painful distance of just 1nm for the two boats to battle over for the remaining 22 hours. Nail biting for both skippers and viewers, the final hours saw an unbelievable finish as a the highly optimised Tales II ate into the lead.

Phil comments on the race, “Tactically I think we sailed a good race, which definitely gave us a sustained advantage. Of course it is immensely frustrating to have not won the race having lead most of the way. The light winds in the last 24 hours were best complimented by the Botin boat design, the one of a kind Tales II, which is also packaged with an extreme spinnaker, large for light winds.

“Quite simply it was an action packed, highly intense race, and much more fatiguing than we both expected. It was a completely different rhythm to the two transatlantics this year. The pace of the race was so fast that you had to perform at 100% making any routine incredibly challenging. Managing sleep was near impossible as the conditions were just too uncomfortable, and navigation was a constant because there were so many big tactical decisions to make based on the significant amount of headlands and rocks in the route. This meant that on my off-watches I was spending a lot of time navigating and helping Sam with sail changes, rather than sleeping.

“Overall, I am really encouraged by a step-up in performance of our boat with some newly designed North Sails, we were able to challenge and often be faster than the highly optimised Tales II. So it’s great to be moving forward and developing our boat performance and I look forward to coming back next year to see how we further evolve.

“You’ll also be pleased to know that the only damage on board throughout this race was a broken foot rest!”

As Phil and Sam hit dry land after a gripping end to the racing season, the not so simple race continues with Le Simple Ve, the final boat more than 400nm from the finish line.


Race facts:

Distance sailed: 1,057nm

Average speed: 9.29knots

Top speed: 22knots

Imerys record: 4d 17h 44m 43s

This 7th edition record: 4d 17h 41m 54sec

6th edition record: 5d 2h 50m 50s