Normandy Channel Race – Sixth place for Alberto Bona: an experience to treasure

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Normandy Channel Race – Sixth place for Alberto Bona: an experience to treasure

12 June 2023

Described right away as the toughest race in the 2023 programme, it did not betrayed expectations. Wind changes, opposite currents, bags entangled in the keel, disadvantages and comebacks: Alberto Bona’s Normandy Channel Race was a regatta to remember and to tell.

Let’s start from the end: the Class40 IBSA –crewed by Bona and co-skipper Pablo Santurde del Arco – crossed the finish line of the Normandy Channel Race in the port of Ouistreham (Normandy, France) at 08:01:17 am on Friday 9 June, completing the route in 4 days, 16 hours, 46 minutes and 17 seconds, finishing in sixth position.

It’s been a complicated and difficult test, with some mistakes and some setbacks”, commented Bona on the sixth place of the Class40 IBSA, “but we gained so much experience for this type of regatta that it will be extremely useful for us in the future, in particular for the Rolex Fastnet Race”.

The Class40 IBSA has always been in the leading group, but the race saw continuous changes at the top of the rankings, both of scenario and strategy, which kept enthusiasts in suspense until the very last tack.

Departed from Caen (France) on June 4, the Class40 IBSA led the race for almost the entire crossing of the English Channel, up to the approach to the Isle of Wight (UK).

At this point the crew started to meet their first obstacles: first a plastic bag entangled in the keel, then the lack of wind near the easternmost tip of England, contrary to the legends of the coasts of Cornwall and Wales.

At dawn on the third day, the wind finally picked up and the Class40 IBSA rounded Tuskar Rock (Ireland) in sixth position, choosing – for the descent along Ireland – to keep a route very close to the coast.

Then the transit in front of two iconic sailing places:

  • first Landline Rock, the legendary lighthouse that Alberto and Pablo, together with two other crew members, will meet again in about a month, during the Rolex Fastnet Race;
  • and then Land’s End, the most south-westerly point of England.

which Alberto and Pablo cleared in fourth and second position, respectively.

Soon after, another object caught in the keel; this time it was a net, which forced Santurde to dive to clear it manually, slowing down the run of the Class40.

Along the English coast, the weather conditions immediately presented themselves as challenging, with strong counter-current seas and winds of up to 40 knots, conditions that followed the Class40 IBSA also during the crossing of the Channel, during which Alberto and Pablo faced the last upwind leg of the regatta, settling in sixth position.

Of this regatta”, continued Alberto, “we will remember an extremely complicated start, with tough conditions that gave us a hard time when it came to choosing which sail to use; our excellent choices in the tack off the English coast, that kept us in the lead group until the end; a bag and a net entangled in the keel; and the constant battle against contrary currents. Now we have to think of the next regatta and a little more DIY, after this really complicated race: the Channel and the Solent proved to be complex and demanding crossings, but they made us to learn a lot”.

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