Since the days of the belle epoch Deauville has been a magnet for the rich and famous. Described as ‘the glamorous lady of the French coast’ and the gateway to the Calvados region, this Normandy port, and Trouville, its slightly more risqué twin sister across the bridge, has provided a base for commercial fishing and leisure yachting fleets and is much loved by British sailors. Since 1962, one particular group of yachtsmen has been making the annual pilgrimage known as the Deauville Race.

Cowes Deauville Race first start photo Beken

The start of the first Cowes-Deauville Race - photo Beken

Most recently organised for the British contingent by the Royal Southern Yacht Club, Royal London Yacht Club and Junior Offshore Group, and for 2012 including the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), whilst for the French the Race is organised by the Deauville Yacht Club with the support of the Yacht Club de France, this event could more properly be described as a ‘raid’!  However, for the serious players, it is open to IRC and HN-rated boats plus offshore one-designs who enjoy full-on racing, Club Class yachts and a Cruiser Rally for both sail and power craft.

The event’s IRC Classes are being joined by entries from RORC, for the first time in recent memory and, bolstered by their presence, the staggered starts in Cowes on Friday, June 1st should see a collective fleet of over 80 boats. Apart from the large British and French representation, this Anniversary Race has also attracted entries from Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands.

The 2012 Cowes-Deauville breaks new ground

The 50th Cowes-Deauville Race has broken further exciting new ground, as RORC has awarded it the Cervantes Trophy for the first IRC boat to finish, in what has traditionally become the first English Channel Race on its season’s Points Championship calendar.  A testing sortie that regularly attracts entries from Britain, France and Belgium, it provides a ‘qualifier’ for crews in Rolex Fastnet years and in 2012, is a perfect qualifier for the Royal Southern’s Biscay 2012 event starting September 16th. The Cowes-Deauville race this year is also recognised by the Union Nationale pour la Course au Large (UNCL) as one of the six races for their Championnat Manche, so we are anticipating an influx of French yachts.

Some of this year’s IRC entries to watch out for include last year’s winner, the Royal Southern Yacht Club’s Rear Commodore Sailing, Brian Mead and his Westerly Typhoon Wishful Thinking (Class 5). In Class 2, the TP52 Pace, owned and driven by Johnny Vincent, and Cracklin' Rosie, Steven Anderson’s new purchase, a Corby 40, are both likely contenders.

In Class 3, La Reponse, Andrew McIrvine, the former Commodore of RORC’s First 40 and in Class 4 S X Girl of John & Christine White, winners of multiple RSrnYC trophies, are likely to pick up some of the prizes.

This year also sees a new dimension added as the Deauville YC and the Royal Southern YC incorporate some inter-club fleet racing using J/80 one-designs into the racing schedule on both sides of the Channel.  This double header, with Round 1 on Thursday, May 31 in the Solent and Round 2 on Sunday June 3 in the Baie de la Seine, will bring an added frisson of competitive excitement.  The social programme starts on May 31 with the traditional vin d’honneur and pre-race dinner, hosted this year by the Royal Southern, and transfers to France for the Prizegiving and Gala Dinner at Deauville’s Hotel du Golf on Saturday June 2.

Late entries are being accepted up to Thursday May 31. See the Royal Southern YC.