Ambrogio Beccaria wants to do an encore in the Normandy Channel Race | Pirelli

Ambrogio Beccaria wants to do an encore in the Normandy Channel Race


After the Isle of Wight, the waters of the English Channel suggest a fascinating coastal journey right in front of the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy. Those waves have hosted so many regattas and nautical competitions that they could comprise a small encyclopedia of sailing. The Normandy Channel Race is a fast-paced competition that takes you from Normandy to Ireland, via the south west coast of England to the Celtic Sea, where sailors are almost always greeted by the tides and bad weather. It is an often treacherous journey, a thousand nautical miles to be played out in a battle of tactics and intuition but without too many dead moments, where a great knowledge of currents and tides is also required, as sailors have now learned to understand: the race has reached its fourteenth edition, and every year it turns out to be a spectacular and surprising battle.

Born in 2010, the Normandy Channel Race is reserved for Class40s, it is competed in pairs and the course is even more difficult than what winds, currents and tides suggest because it is littered with obstacles – rocks, old crates, merchant ships, fishing boats, on the course you can meet anything and you need to know how to read the moment, stay on track, if you want to bring home the result.

It started on the 4th of June from Caen, more precisely from the port of Ouistreham – about fifteen kilometres from the Normandy city – and thus we then get to look closely at the coast of Ireland, on a journey between headlands, islands and lighthouses overlooking the sea, a journey very varied, with romantic panoramas, divided between the coastal dimension of the Channel between France and the United Kingdom, and one offshore in the waters of the Celtic Sea.

"It is an intense regatta and it always touches the most interesting points of that piece of geography, from Barfleur to the Isle of Wight, then the Fastnet rock and the Raz Blanchard. You have to be focused until the end and all the time there can be surprises ". These are the words used by Thomas Ruyant, skipper of "Destination Dunkerque", and winner of the first edition of the Normandy Channel Race with Tanguy Leglatin, to recall the regatta. And nothing is better than the words of a winner to describe a race.

The last one of with it was è Ambrogio Beccaria, himself who this year returned ito those same waters with his "Alla Grande Pirelli", his creature, which accompanied him in the recent ocean regattas. He set sail again after winning last year's edition aboard "Crédit Mutuel” al alongside Frenchman Ian Lipinski. "It's the second time I've taken part in the Normandy Channel Race," said the Milanese sailor. "It is a regatta that I love very much as well as one of the most important of the year because it brings together the newest Class40s and the strongest skippers. It's also extremely competitive because, being the height of the season, we all arrive very fit." But that's not all: «It's the regatta with the most beautiful cup. It may seem superficial but I remember exactly when last year, at the group photo in front of the cup, I thought how nice it would be to write my name on it. And this is exactly what happened”.

This year he is taking part aboard the “Alla Grande Pirelli”, and alongside Beccaria, and with co-skipper, there is Kevin Bloch, French sailor of great talent, who never gets caught up in a hurry and always delves into every question. "We are a good team, each with a well-defined strength. We are ready and eager to battle along these thousand miles full of pitfalls along the English Channel, Cornwall, the Celtic Sea, the tip of Brittany, the Anglo-Norman Isles and Normandy." they said before leaving. Kevin Kevin Bloch was born twenty-seven years ago in Aix-les-Bains, he is a nautical engineer and has already taken part in many ocean regattas: he is a few years younger than Beccaria, he seems to want to look closely at him, study him, even learn from him, following a path similar to his. This time too, he's next to him on his “Alla Grande Pirelli”, as he had already done last February during the RORC Caribbean 600.

Last year the Normandy Channel Race was competed in perfect conditions for sailing: there was that right breeze of 10 knots from East-Southeast, a beginning of an incoming storm, the sky was gray as often in that little piece of the world, the color of the water was just a little darker but in the same shades. This year "weather conditions are at the moment optimal", he had already let Beccaria from Caen know before the race started. There is a big anticyclone over Great Britain which causes a fairly stable north-easterly wind, at least for the outward journey. The return upwind will be more insidious also because the shallow waters mean that that stretch of sea is full of rather dangerous currents.

After the Normandy Channel Race, Ambrogio Beccaria is awaited at its last summer regatta, namely the Rolex Fastnet Race, a crewed race full of history and tradition, which this year starts on  22 July and celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the first edition. Then the sporting season of "Alla Grande Pirelli" will end in October with the "Coffee Route", or Transat Jacques Vabre, another transatlantic double-handed race of 4,419 miles (8,184 kilometres) from Normandy to Martinique which takes place every two years.