At 6.18 local time this morning, after 4 days 15 hours, 3 minutes and a second of racing, “Alla Grande – Pirelli” crossed the finish line of the fourteenth edition of the Normandy Channel Race in first position. The regatta, organized by Sirius Events, is reserved for double crews (Class40). Famous for being a fast-paced and extremely tactical competition as well as complicated due to the dangerous currents, it was once again a hard-fought race up to the last mile.
Beccaria, who had won the Normandy Channel Race last year aboard “Crédit Mutuel” co-skippered by Ian Lipinski, repeats his success, but this time aboard his Class40 “Alla Grande – Pirelli”. Fresh from many excellent second places (Route du Rhum, Rorc Caribbean 600 and Défi Atlantique) Beccaria brings another important success for Italian sailing by chance.
After a good start, the Italian-French duo immediately positioned themselves in the leading group. In view of the Isle of Wight “Alla Grande – Pirelli” reaches the third position which it becomes first already at the exit of the difficult passage of the Solent. Exiting the Channel is a complicated balancing act between alternating currents and wind intensity, but Beccaria and Kevin make the right choices and at Wolf Rock they are in second position immediately after Frenchman Xavier Macaire’s “Team SNEF”. Perhaps getting too close to the foiled coast of Cornwall, our riders find themselves in eighteenth position. At this point the two reassembled: taking advantage of the subsequent rotation of the wind and the position further east, the sailors of “Alla Grande – Pirelli” miraculously regained the lead of the race in just a few miles.
“We were good there”, commented Ambrogio who courageously bet on the rotation of the wind, “because we had a plan that didn’t succeed, but we understand why and we remain consistent with our strategy which is not easy if you suddenly lose twenty positions. We were calm and then… we overtook them all”.” Ambrogio and Kevin then reached the Irish coast at Tuskar Rock always in the lead, while the fleet split in two: all the pursuers opted for an offshore tack, while ours preferred to continue inshore, thus arriving at the Fastnet with a full 10 miles ahead.
From there on the very long upwind in the Celtic Sea to return to the Channel began: Ambrogio immediately decided to stay windward in order to immediately aim for the area east of the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) of Scilly, keeping control over the fleet and being able to arrive with a better angle and in an area more protected from wind and currents. After skirting the English coast a little “Alla Grande – Pirelli” she returned to the center, leaving practically no openings for her opponents.
Ambrogio upon arrival: “Wow, we did the space race! An incredible regatta. At the start we immediately had some maneuvering problems because a line got stuck in the furling jib of the FR0 [vela di prua, nrd] and we slowed down a bit. As we passed the Isle of Wight the boat started going like a train…we passed them all and we had confirmation that “Alla Grande – Pirelli” is the fastest boat in the fleet. But we realized that this really is a race where anything can happen, we saw several boats retire at the last buoys. In addition to the comeback by Cornwall there was another key moment which is what gave us the great gap from the pursuers and it was having exploited the thermal effect of the wind in the bays in Ireland: we went much further inland than all the others and we had so much more wind and much more tailwind”.
“The return was more of a control of the situation up to the Fastnet, but then the last navigation in the English Channel with currents and 35 knots of wind was the ‘hottest’ part of the race, also because we exploded the j2 and I thought the race was over. From then on we had to use the j1 with one hand with extreme caution. It wasn’t easy and we were terrified of breaking even that: every time we slammed into a wave I sent so many kisses to the sail because she was truly a heroine ”.