Pulborough sailor Ned Collier Wakefield to start Normandy Channel Race title defence

A talented offshore sailor from Pulborough sets sail in the Normandy Channel Race this weekend with the aim of defending the coveted title he won last year.

Ned Collier Wakefield will begin his 1,000 mile journey in Caen, France on Sunday April 14 in what is a notoriously competitive double-handed race.

The 25-year-old won the race in 2012 on Concise 2 with his co-skipper Sam Goodchild.

This year, he will be joined by Brieuc Maisonneuve onboard the Hamble-based Al Bucq..

“I’m really excited to be back in the race this year, I still believe it’s one of the best Class 40 races on the circuit,” said the Pulborough sailor.

“However, this year will be really different for me, the new boat (Akilaria RC3) is the next generation on from Concise 2 and we haven’t had long to get her ready.

“I have actually only had the chance to sail her for a few hours, slightly different to the 20,000 miles sailed on Concise 2.”

The Anglo-French pair will be one of 21 crews racing the 1,000 miles from Caen, across the channel to the Isle of Wight, along the South coast of the UK out to Tuskar and Fastnet rocks before heading back to Caen.

Conditions are a little different this time around and Ned said: “One of the biggest changes this year is having the race in April.

“There’s the real chance of some interesting weather.

“A big high, or a couple monster lows, we will have to wait and see. The RC3, as with many of the new generation boats is very powerful, carrying more volume forward. This makes her faster reaching but slightly sticky in the light. With this in mind I think we will be hoping for a breezy race.”

The Normandy Channel Race is one of the qualifying races for November’s Transat Jacques Vabre. Ned is planning to race in that on his new Forty(1) Design boat.

The new KER Yacht Design boat is currently being built at McConaghy’s but will be on the water in time for this year’s Fastnet race.