Nordhavn wins challenge race across English Channel
By Fiona Earle
It has been a busy few months at Nordhavn Europe; we exhibited a Nordhavn 47 at HISWA, a show in Holland for the first time. Then just 4 days later we were exhibiting a 47 and 40 at Southampton International Boat show.
During the Southampton show one of our favourite press friends, Carl Richardson, Editor of Motor Boats Monthly approached us with an idea for a story. Carl wanted to pitch a motor boat against a sail boat in a ‘challenge’ to bring back the first bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau from France. Beaujolais Nouveau is fermented for just a few weeks then officially released for sale on the third Thursday of November. This “Beaujolais Day” sees heavy marketing from the producers, with races to get the first bottles of the vintage to different markets.
Yachting Monthly magazine would be involved in the story too, with the respective motor and sail journalists battling to write stories about how their mode of boating was far superior. This rivalry appealed to me, whilst Nordhavns are my work, for play I am a keen yacht racer. Having spent hours in the cold and wet racing yachts offshore, here was the opportunity for me to enjoy that special feeling of being at sea and be warm and comfortable!
So preparations began, the team at Nordhavn Europe were intently studying the weather forecasts, the mood in the office was not good, it looked like perfect sailing weather on our planned day of departure. The Beneteau Oceanis 43 we were challenging could broad reach from the Needles, the 60 miles to Cherbourg, we estimated at and average speed of 10 knots, faster than we would be in the ‘little’ Nordhavn 40, Annie M.
In the face of possible defeat I decided on an alternative strategy, with homemade cheese cake and numerous other culinary delights, we could arrive in France warm and well fed even if it was behind the sail boat. Isn’t that one of the best selling points of a Nordhavn? Adventures on board are about the journey as much as the arrival.
So, on Monday morning I found myself mid English Channel, after a leisurely trip on a flat calm Solent in company with the sail boat, to enable a photo shoot at Hurst castle and the Needles. The race commenced as we passed the Needles and were released by the photo boat, I refer to it as a race now because we were leading!
The forecast, as usual, had changed and the sail boat began the trip under engine, with not enough wind to make headway under sail alone. After 10 hours at sea, we arrived in Cherbourg and set off to find a bottle of Beaujolais.
Over 2 hours later a tired yacht crew arrived and were welcomed into our cosy saloon with a glass of wine. The Yachting Monthly journalist would later confess this was the moment he thought motor boaters might have a point.
After a traditional meal of Moules and Frites we retired to bed, ready for the return challenge, once again the Nordhavn crew were slightly apprehensive, not only were we going to have a Yottie on board, but forecasts showed a steady Southerly breeze, the yacht could be in for a fast sleigh ride home.
As dawn broke and gale warnings were issued in the shipping forecasts, the yacht crew were a little nervous about departure. As we were too, whilst Russell and I were happy Annie M would look after us whatever the weather, we didn’t want the yacht crew to feel pressurised into leaving. I don’t think I was the only Yottie who was very happy to be on a Nordhavn that morning; Dick Durham from Yachting Monthly was joining us for the return trip.
We slipped the lines and headed for the Cherbourg breakwater, promising to report back weather conditions to our sailing friends. I prepared breakfast in the galley, casually chatting to Dick in the saloon about the Nordhavn concept. As I cooked, Dick began to appreciate the social layout of the 40 and confessed he was actually pleasantly surprised and looking forward to his day on the motor boat. A possible convert?
Another 10 hour trip back to the UK, with winds of up to 35 knots and a big swell in the channel, stabilizers working hard, Annie M’s reliable Lugger engine didn’t miss a beat, she even reached 9.3 knots surfing down one of the waves.
As confident as we were that the boat would see us safely home, we were glad to reach the shelter of the Solent and enjoy our lunch in flatter seas. As we tucked into a hearty meal, followed by cheesecake, we momentarily felt guilty that once again our sailing buddies were some miles behind us, in the rain, still riding out the 6ft waves.
The finish line at the Royal Southern Yacht Club bar, presenting the commodore with our bottle of Beaujolais was ours for the taking. Not only that, a life long Yottie and sailing journalist had enjoyed his Nordhavn channel crossing – I for one can’t wait to read his article!
Look out for the stories in the November editions of Motor Boat Monthly and Yachting Monthly.