Normandy Sailing Week, which tests the strength and skill of some of the best inshore and offshore sailing teams in Europe, is underway with over 800 racers competing.
The regatta, which takes place in the Seine Bay which is known for its testing currents and difficult conditions, lasts until Sunday with a comprehensive programme.
One skipper Daniel Souben, explained just how challenging the racing can be. â€˜It will take about three days to get used to the water in the bay which is quite specific with lots of currents and quite choppy,â€™ he said.
This year there are around a dozen elite teams taking part in the show stopper M34 offshore racing championships from France to the Isle of Wight and back. According to the organiser the competition is intense between the teams. Thomas Coville on Sodebo M34, CÃ©dric Pouligny Omansail Team and the Breton team led by Nicolas Troussel are all hungry to win.
Normandy Sailing Week is the first stage of the Championship of France Elite Offshore Racing Crew competition. Tomorrow (Tuesday 04 June) the 230 mile race gets underway from Le Havre to the Isle of Wight and back, one of the biggest challenges for the teams.
Nicolas Troussel skipper of the CrÃ©dit Mutuel de Bretagne Elite, said that crossing the English Channel twice is a big test for the crews.
Another highlight of the week is the first European J111 championship with teams from France, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands in a special four day programme from Thursday to Saturday.
The Normandy Cup will be the prime attraction for the IRC cruiser racers with five events, one of which is raced offshore.
Overall the week long event, now in its eighth year, is an important event for Le Havre which is bidding to host the French Cup sailing event. Bright sunshine and good weather is expected to attract record crowds for the inshore racing at the weekend.
Sailing in Le Havre goes back to 1840 when the first national regatta took place. Indeed the city is regarded as the birthplace of competitive sailing in France. It has Europeâ€™s first sailing club, the SRH and it took part in the organisation of the water based events in the 1900 and 1924 Olympic Games. It is also the starting point for the world famous Transat Jacques Vabre which follows the historic coffee route from France to Brazil and was launched in 1993.
Le Havre is also a major windsurfing centre and over the years has hosted some of the biggest windsurfing competitions including two French junior championships, stages of the Figaro and Tour de France windsurfing events.