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Tour Voile 2018 : 17 days of adrenaline and relentless confrontation

December 4th 2017

A NEW AND AMBITIOUS DEPLOYMENT FOR 2018

Four years after the change of the competition format and the strong success of this new formula, the Tour Voile pushes the envelope even further for 2018 with a new and ambitious deployment.

Competition will be the central focus of the event thanks to a shorter and more impacting event: 7 Legs and 15 days of racing versus 9 Legs and 18 days in the past.

On dry land, the spectator viewing area has been redesigned to honour the skippers and the competition. The village activities will be replaced by a mobile apparatus: the Tour Voile BASE that will be located on the water front to follow the races.

 

THE 2018 COURSE

Like each year, the Tour Voile will sail past the most stunning French coasts and will stop at some of the most iconic beaches in France.

For the 32nd time in 40 years, the Malo-les-Bains beach in Dunkirk will host the Start for three days of racing. Two legs in Normandy will follow: Dieppe that promises a wonderful coastal raid passing in front of the Côte d’Albâtre cliffs and Barneville-Carteret, within reach of the Channel Islands and especially Jersey.

For the Brittany leg, the race will head toward the Golfe du Morbihan. The Tour Voile will make a stop in Baden, across from the Île-aux-Moines for two days of racing in an exceptional setting before heading to the Mediterranean. First at Gruissan, which is renowned for its high winds, where the entire paddock will be positioned on the beach of the chalets. Then at Hyères, the Diam24ods will compete in a sumptuous décor between Porquerolles, Port Cros and the Île du Levant before setting sail to Nice for the 7th and final Leg. The Tour Voile will conclude in the Baie des Anges and will put on a magnificent show for the spectators, across from the Promenade des Anglais.

 

THE NEW FEATURES FOR THE 2018 TOUR VOILE

In this desire to put the focus on competition, the prologue and postlogue days will be replaced by days of Nautical Stadium competition.

Thus in Dunkirk, the skippers will head straight into the thick of the racing with a start featuring three days of Nautical Stadium competition.

In Nice, the Final Leg will be settled over days of Nautical Stadium racing. The Super Finale will be held on Sunday July 22 and will crown the most complete sailors at the end of an intense and relentless event.

 

MORE THAN 30 TEAMS EXPECTED

Registration for the 2018 Tour Voile has been open since the start of the week. 40 entries are available for the 2018 edition.

40th anniversary edition of the Tour de France à la Voile does not disappoint

July 30th 2017

Twenty-nine teams, nine Acts, eight Coastal Raids and more Nautical Stadium Races than you can shake a stick at are just a few of the numbers that cannot possibly sum up a marathon sailing event that is as exciting as it is exacting.

The nine host ports touched on in the 40th Tour de France à la Voile: Dunkirk – Fécamp – Jullouville – Arzon Port du Crouesty – Les Sables d’Olonne – Roses – Le Grau du Roi Port Camargue – Marseille – Nice; represent some of France’s most iconic sailing grounds and the Tour is an institution in French competitive sailing.

Leadership changes, black flag disqualifications, the full spectrum of wind and sea conditions, equipment damage and - in one case - failure to comply with the measurement rules, all played their part in this rollercoaster edition which saw seven different crews chalk up wins over the course of 17 race days. The new format adopted in 2015 - alternating Coastal Raids of up to 40 miles with short, fast Stadium Racing heats leading to a grand final on each leg – is a challenge to crews’ skills and endurance whilst providing spectator friendly racing.

As may be expected with such a long and demanding event, in which fatigue and stress are factors not to be underestimated, consistency was key. Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains, skippered by double Paralympic champion Damien Seguin and three-time Tour winner Damien Iehl together with crew members Benjamin Amiot and Mathieu Bourdais, calmly collected one solid result after another to lock up their overall win a day early.

“It was a difficult Tour, not stressful but tiring. We were consistent on the water and we didn’t have any equipment problems.” said Seguin, who went on to underline the importance of preparation. “There was a very high standard in this edition. We saw from the start of the season that this would be a close one because the standard was so high and we trained hard from February. There was a massive battle between the top 10 boats.”

The incredibly high level of competition was a recurring theme throughout this anniversary edition. The unique format of the Tour has seen sustained growth since the adoption of the Diam 24 in 2015 and attracts sailors from all spheres of the sport – from multihull to ocean racers. The return of a large number of Olympic talents after last year’s games undoubtedly raised the bar, however a series of pre-season events as well as some serious training programmes also contributed.

While Fondation FDJ had their win wrapped up with a day in hand, the runner-up places were only assigned at the conclusion of a thrilling Super Final in Act 9 in Nice. Tresors de Tahiti, skipperd by Teva Plichart, and Beijaflore Sailing, skippered by Valentin Bellet, emerged as the cream of a tightly-packed crop, claiming second and third place respectively in the general classification.

International teams competing in the Tour ranged from two Swiss boats - representing Geneva’s CER regatta training centre for the 30th time - to young British Team Maverick SSR, Spanish-Russian collaboration New Territories and amateur Belgian team BE Brussels, all making their Tour debut.

Piers Hugh Smith, skipper of Team Maverick SSR, whose youngest crew member celebrated their 19th birthday during the Tour, saw this inaugural participation as a learning experience for future campaigns. Considering the fact that they were for some time the only crew sailing a Diam 24 in the UK, simply completing this tour de force in the company of such experienced teams can be considered a success.

“It was harder than we expected.” confessed Hugh Smith. “We were blown away. It’s been an incredible event. We’ve learnt a huge amount and the whole roadshow aspect of the tour is like nothing else. It’s a really exceptional event. We have a five-year plan to compete in the next editions of the Tour and get up to a really competitive level.”

Asked what advice he would give to other new teams joining the Tour for the first time he had clear ideas: “Get to France and sail as much as you can here on the Diam 24s. Don’t be afraid to do this event on a small budget. It’s very accessible and the organisation put a huge effort in to make it accessible, we’re really pleased with all the help they’ve given us. Just come and do it, but be prepared: the event is so long, if there are any weaknesses in the boat, the crew or the planning they will definitely come out. But it’s an endurance event, the better you prepare, the better it’s going to be.”

Flying the Spanish flag and based in Barcelona but with an international crew boasting J/80 World Champion duo Hugo Rocha and Alexey Semenov on board, new entry New Territories managed several top ten places and posted a respectable 16th place finish overall, just shy of the middle of the fleet, in their debut Tour Voile outing.

Swiss round-the-world sailor Bernard Stamm, with a series of Vendée Globe, Mini Transat, and Velux 5 Oceans participations under his belt to name but a few, skippered the Diam 24 Cheminées Poujoulat to within inches of a top-eight finish. Sadly a collision in the final Coastal Raid in Nice put the team out of the Super Final and out of the running. They put in a gallant performance nonetheless on the final day, triumphing in their group to place ninth overall. 

But the star of the international contingent was Team Oman Sail, an international crew featuring British Olympic sailor Stevie Morrison and French Match race champion Thierry Douillard. Together with Omani sailors Abdulkhaman Al Mashari, Ali Al Balushi and French match racer Mathieu Richard the team, which reached fifth place in 2016, were aiming for a podium finish this year.

Performing consistently and finishing lower than 10th only three times over the entire Tour, they entered the Super Final in fifth place. But a fiercely competitive conclusive battle meant that fifth place in both the last race and the overall classification was what they had to settle for. 

“The reality of us not being on the podium doesn’t come down to that last race.” admitted a candid Morrison. “We lost points earlier in the Tour and if you leave it to the last race there’s an element of chance. We sailed well but we should have banked more points earlier on.”

Abdulkhaman Al Mashari, who has taken over the role of trimmer this year was enthusiastic about the experience: “We learned a lot this year taking on the trimming on the boat. I feel like I’m improving and learning from Stevie and Matt and Thierry all the time. It’s a really good event. Very hard but really fun, you learn a lot and you get to visit some great places.”

FINAL SHOWDOWN REWARDS TAHITI AND BEIJAFLORE FONDATION FDJ - DES MAIN ET DES PIEDS CROWNED 2017 CHAMPIONS

July 29th 2017

At the conclusion of a truly entertaining Super Final, Fondation FDJ - Des Mains et Des Pieds skippered by Damien Iehl and Damien Seguin, Tresors de Tahiti skippered by Teva Plichart and Beijaflore Sailing skippered by Valentin Bellet, have secured the top three places on the overall podium in one of the most competitive and exciting editions of the Tour de France a la Voile to date.

In a shocking error of judgement on the starting line of today’s Super Final Race for the top eight boats Team SFS, firmly entrenched in second place after relinquishing the lead of the Tour in Act 4, took a black flag disqualification for crossing the line early. Their overzealous tactics earned them immediate disqualification and caused them to miss out on a podium place by just one point.

Heading into the Super Final of this taxing 23-day competition Fondation FDJ Des Main et Des Pieds already had overall victory mathematically secured since yesterday evening. Free from the pressure their adversaries were feeling, Iehl and Seguin’s team sailed a perfect and seemingly effortless race, cruising over the finish line in first place, comfortably clear of the pack. Prior to today FDJ boasted only one outright race win over the course of the Tour, however their steady run of solid results – counting 7 podium finishes and never scoring less than 40 out of a possible 50 - proves that consistency is key in this marathon event. This is Paralympic champion Damien Seguin’s third Tour and his first collaboration with Damien Iehl, ace match racer and three-time Tour winner.

This victory in the Super Final is the icing on the cake.” commented Seguin today. “To be honest at the start in Dunkirk we didn’t really believe we could lift the Cup in Nice, our aim was to finish in the top five. But as the Acts went on and we hung on to the podium we saw that a win was possible. We were constant, the others made some mistakes. Our team was really solid in the Mediterranean stages.”

By comparison Team SFS had posted six wins (4 in Costal Raids and 2 in the Nautical Stadiums) but suffered heavy losses due to dismasting in Act 6 in Roses, Spain and a penalisation from the jury during Act 4 in Arzon for a lighter than permitted anchor weight. Their highs and lows culminated in today’s disqualification for which they paid the highest of prices.

After the Bronze and Silver groups (split according to their overall ranking yesterday evening) completed their conclusive heats to decide places 9 to 29, it was time for the main event, a single race for the top eight boats. The supporters and crowds of spectators gathered along Nice’s Promenade des Anglais on this sunny Saturday to watch the Super Final, held in a near perfect 10-15 knot breeze, were not disappointed by a spectacular final showdown in the Bay of Angels.

With victory all tied up by Fondation FDJ, today’s double-points scoring race was all about the final thrust for podium places. The five boats following the preordained winner (Team SFS, Trésors de Tahiti, Beijaflore, Team Oman Sail, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan) were separated by just 16 points this morning, and with the Super Final Nautical Stadium race delivering double points (100 for the winner, 98 for second place etc.), the reward for an outstanding final flourish would be the second and third steps on the podium.

The disqualification of Team SFS proved an unexpected gift to the next four boats in the overall classification, already clamouring for a podium place in extremis. Seeing their chance of silverware open up, Beijaflore Sailing did not hesitate and sailed a clean race to finish second and claim the third rung on the podium. Behind them, Tresors de Tahiti fought their way magnificently back up the fleet after a disappointing start and duelled with Vivacar.fr throughout the conclusive legs, managing in the end to cross the line in front and securing second place overall.

Teva Plichart, skipper of Trésors de Tahiti had an incredible day: “SFS gave us another nice present on the starting line but we took a penalty that put us in a bad place. We didn’t give up and we hung in there to finish just behind Beijaflore. We’ve had ups and downs in this, we almost didn’t make it here for financial reasons and finishing second is a great feeling.”

Valentin Bellet , skipper of Beijaflore: “The whole team is happy with this third place. We did the sums this morning and we we knew it would be very tight. SFS opened the door to the podium for us. I personally finished second last year and third this year. I hope I make it to first next year.”

In addition to the highly successful French contingent, the fleet included teams flying the Belgian, British, Omani, Spanish and Swiss flags. Team Oman Sail, however, was the only team in the Super Final not flying the Tricolor. Led by veteran French match race and offshore sailor Thierry Douillard and GBR double-Olympic sailor Stevie Morrison, the team reached fifth place overall in the previous edition and set out with the objective of finishing on the podium this year.

A few niggles on the race course and a fifth place finish in the Final meant that this did not materialise, but Morrison was philosophical about the reasons behind that: “It was a great race fundamentally. But if you leave it to the last there’s an element of chance, that’s why a sailing event isn’t just one race. We’re frustrated but we sailed a good race today. We had a bad furl which we didn’t see in time. That turned into a loss of 100 metres so that was a team mistake. Would we like to be third? Yes. But the reality is we should have gained a lot more points earlier on in the event.”

Curtain Up on Final Act

July 29th 2017

Just over three weeks after setting off from its traditional launch point of Dunkirk, and after visiting nine race courses in France and Spain, the Tour de France à la Voile lifts the curtain on its final Act today in Nice. Although the script has already been written as regards the champion of this 40th edition – Fondation FDJ Des Main et Des Pieds added a third place in yesterday’s Coastal Raid to rack up an unbeatable advantage over their closest rivals – a surprise ending could yet be in store as regards the runner up places.

The five boats following the preordained winner (Team SFS, Trésors de Tahiti, Beijaflore, Team Oman Sail,Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan) are separated by just 16 points, and with the Super Final Nautical Stadium race delivering double points (100 for the winner, 98 for second place etc.), today’s top performers will be rewarded with the second and third steps on the podium.

Once again Nice is not offering much in the way of breeze. Approximately 4 knots this morning is due to fill in slightly to around 6-8 knots in the early afternoon.

The race schedule for today sees the 21 teams who did not qualify in the magnificent eight divided into bronze and silver groups according to their position in the overall classification. Each group will complete a maximum of six races, at end of which the silver group will have assigned 9th to 19th places and the bronze from 20th to 29th.

Then, at 15.40 CET comes the culmination of this marathon event as the eight leading crews meet in the final showdown: a single, race to decide who joins Fondation FDJ – Des Mains et Des Pieds on the podium at tonight’s prize giving ceremony.

Prizes will also be awarded this evening to the top Amateur and Youth teams within the fleet. Lorina Mojito has already claimed victory among the young guns but a battle is still raging at the top of the Amateur group  between Homkia / Les Sables d’Olonne Agglomération and Team Installux Aluminium.

Calm consistency wins as Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains claim championship with a day in hand

July 28th 2017

While Team SFS triumphed in spectacular style in today’s Coastal Raid, a third place finish in Nice was more than sufficient to assure Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains overall victory in the 40th edition of the Tour de France à la Voile. Eighteen points clear of Team SFS in second, the crew led by Damien Seguin and Damien Iehl with Benjamin Amiot and François Morvan can no longer be caught, and will add their name to the illustrious list of teams who have raised the Tour’s Cup since 1978.

Solid, consistent and never far from the top of the classification ever since the event got underway in Dunkirk on 7th July, the crew of Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains placed outside the top 10 just once over 16 race days (an eleventh position in Act 4 in Arzon). And they displayed their usual cool, calm and collected character today when the time came to seal the deal. Paralympic sailor and co-skipper Damien Seguin has sailed in the Tour for the past three years and – in addition to his two Paralympic golds in the 2.4mR - has once again achieved his goal of proving that physical disability does not preclude top performances.

“We went crazy with joy when we crossed the line. We were concentrated right up to the last jibe. We sailed well. We did a good start and it all went well from there. It was a difficult tour, not stressful but tiring. We were consistent on the water and we didn’t have any equipment problems” commented a smiling Seguin.

He explained how preparation and teamwork were key given the rising standard in the teams and over the duration of the Tour: “There was a very high standard in this edition. We saw from the start of the season that this would be a close one because the standard was so high and we trained hard from February. There was a massive battle between the top 10 boats. This is a special win as it’s my first title as part of a team. When I started on this adventure it was a big challenge. Thanks to everyone involved we built a great team. We got here solid and our level went up as we went along.”

Today’s Coastal Raid in Nice represented the last chance for each of the 29 teams competing in the 2017 Tour de France a la Voile to lay away crucial points before the fleet is split into three groups for tomorrow’s Super Final. The 25-mile race was held in light conditions over more than three hours, with the start and finish lines positioned right in front of Nice’s Promenade des Anglais and the Race Village. Star of the day was undoubtedly Team SFS whose skipper Sofian Bouvet, hailing from nearby Antibes, put his local knowledge to good use. After bagging an excellent start, leading off the far right of the line, the team competing in their first Tour Voile increased their advantage throughout the Raid to cross the finish line well ahead of Trésors de Tahiti (third overall) and Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains.

Bouvet, an Olympic sailor used to performing under pressure, reflected on how a potential Tour win slipped from his hands: “We are happy. We congratulate Fondation FDJ -Des Pieds et Des Mains. They were more consistent than us. We were capable of winning, we have the most wins on this tour but we lost a lot of points at other times. Thirty points on a dismasting cost us dearly. Our aim now is to defend our second place tomorrow.”

In the end there was no change in position for the top six boats in the overall classification (separated by just 30 points this morning) who all put in solid performances and stamped their ticket for tomorrow’s grand finale. Behind Fondation FDJ – Des Mains et Des Pieds, each of Team SFS, Trésors de Tahiti, Beijaflore, Team Oman Sail ,Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan are in with a chance of a podium place tomorrow.

The battle for the remaining two Super Final slots then boiled down to three teams: Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan, Vivacar.fr and Cheminees Poujoulat. A collision with Team Occitanie – Sud de France left Bernard Stamm’s Cheminees Poujoulat with a hole in their hull and taking on water, effectively thwarting their hopes of qualifying for the top group in the Super Final. The young crew of Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan, already assured victory in the separate Youth classification, finished strongly in fifth place today to take the penultimate Super Final slot ahead of Vivacar.fr Cefim.

Among the international teams competing in the Tour Voile, Oman Sail has performed beyond expectations, floating just outside the podium for most of the event. Having failed to qualify for the Final of yesterday’s Nautical Stadium stage in Marseille and slipping down to fifth place they had a lot to play for today.

“Yesterday was a bit frustrating” admitted co-skipper Stevie Morrison, who has twice represented Britain in the Olympics, prior to today’s race. “We sailed a lot better but we had one race where we were over the line early and in this series it is fairly painful if you get one of those. It was nice to feel we were sailing the boat better so we feel more positive. The reality is that the points are very tight and we’re looking forward to today and a big race in the bay. At the minute it’s looking pretty light, it’s a big bay, a lot is going to happen and we just have to keep fighting to the end.”

Positive thinking and a fighting spirit clearly paid off as Team Oman Sail picked up a fourth place finish today and head into the Super Final in fifth place, on equal points with Beijaflore in fourth.

 

Flash News : Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains Champion of the Tour de France à la Voile 2017

July 28th 2017

While team SFS claimed today’s win, a third place finish in the final Coastal Raid in Nice was more than sufficient to assure Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains overall victory in the 40th edition of the Tour de France à la Voile, no matter what unfolds in tomorrow’s Super Final race.

Solid, consistent and never far from the top of the classification ever since the event got underway in Dunkirk on 7th July, the crew led by Damien Seguin and Damien Iehl did not hold back when the time came to seal the deal. Paralympic sailor and co-skipper Damien Seguin has been competing in the Tour for the past three years and – in addition to his two paralympic golds in the 2.4mR - has proved that disability does not preclude a top performance. 

Team Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains :

Damien Seguin

Damien Iehl

Benjamin Amiot

Tricky day ahead in Nice

July 28th 2017

Today’s Coastal Raid in Nice represents the last chance for each of the 29 teams competing in the 2017 Tour de France a la Voile to bank crucial points and secure the best possible ranking before the fleet is split into three groups for tomorrow’s Super Final. The Trophy, inscribed with the names of the previous 39 winners of one of France’s most challenging sail races, is ready and waiting for the 40th Champion to take their place in an illustrious line-up.

In addition to a tightly-packed leaderboard, possibly the biggest worry for crews today will be the extremely light conditions off the coast of Nice. A breeze varying between 2 and 5 knots will put tactics and nerves to the test, with each manoeuvre counting on the Diam 24 trimarans. The 25 mile Coastal Raid in Nice’s Bay of Angels is set to start at 12.30.

With eight Acts and 15 races completed since the tour set off from Dunkirk three weeks ago, incredibly just thirty points separate the top six teams jostling for podium places: 1) Fondation FDJ – Des Mains et Des Pieds, 2) Team SFS, 3) Trésors de Tahiti, 4) Beijaflore, 5) Team Oman Sail 6) Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan.

The top eight boats in the overall classification at the end of today’s race will advance to tomorrow’s Super Final with the rest of the fleet being split into silver and bronze groups to divvy up the remaining positions. Three teams separated by just 6 points - Vivacar.fr CEFIM, Cheminées Poujoulat and Team Lorina Mojito – du Morbihan - are wrangling for the final places in the top eight. However with today’s tricky conditions, anything could happen on the race course.

The skippers of the top three boats were giving little away heading into today’s race:

Damien Iehl (Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains, 1st place – 689 points): “If we are too stressed we risk not sailing well. If we are among the keaders of the Raid we’ll start feeling good. But there are still a lot of points to be awarded. I have won the Tour three times before and I hope to have that great experience again this year.”

 Sofian Bouvet (Team SFS, 2nd place – 669 points): “We have made some mistakes in this tour and we are going to try to sail well today. We’ll count up the points this evening before the Super Final.”

Teva Plichart (Trésors de Tahiti, 3rd Place, 663 points): “We had a lot of stress when we had the leader’s blue Gennaker. In the past two acts we’ve been on a downward slope and we are keen to finish this Tour well. Ever since Dunkirk we’ve never left the top three and we hope to stay there until tomorrow evening.”

Mixing it up in Marseille

July 27th 2017

Another brilliantly entertaining Nautical Stadium race day once again upset the apple carts in the final stretch of the Tour de France à la Voile 2017. Today’s elimination stage and Super Final failed to dislodge the top dogs from their vantage points: Fondation FDJ – Des Mains et Des Pieds took a solid third to remain poised at the top of the overall leaderboard, 20 points ahead of Team SFS, who looked unusually under par today. While things may look deceptively calm at the top of the scoreboard, a heated battle is raging just below the surface.  Just two more days remain to seal fates in the event that started on 7th July, and while 30 points separate the top 6 teams, only four points now separate the third to sixth-placed boats (in order Trésors de Tahiti, Beijaflore, Team Oman Sail and Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan).

Today’s winners and losers will have to review their tactics on the road as the Tour Voile show ups sticks once again, this time headed for its ninth and final destination of Nice, where a Coastal Raid awaits tomorrow ahead of Saturday’s decisive Super Final, in which double points are up for grabs.

On the only race day held in Marseille - following yesterday’s cancellation due to a gusting Mistral wind - the 29 competing teams set out for the race course, set against the city’s picturesque Corniche coastal road,  in near-perfect conditions. A 13 – 16 knot westerly breeze, sunshine and blue skies accompanied the fleet as they fought tooth and nail throughout five qualifying races to gain a golden ticket to today’s Super Final. Team SFS were not among the privileged eight for the first time since the start of the event, and while they still retain second place overall, it would have been a decidedly better day had they managed to put some space between themselves and the podium-hungry pack nipping at their heels.

A well-deserved win from Beijaflore, their second over the 15 race days completed thus far, takes them to fourth place on equal points with third-placed Tresors de Tahiti. Tying up two wins in the qualifying races, the team of Valentin Bellet, Guillaume Pirouelle and Jason Saunders had clearly found their rhythm today and nailed an excellent start in the Super Final to burst off the line together with Vivacar.Fr. The pair were never more than a few lengths apart for the duration, but it was the Beijaflore boys who managed to squeeze across the line in first place.

Calling tactics on Beijaflore is Kiwi Jason Saunders, at just 26 years of age he already has two Olympic participations under his belt and currently has a good chance of making the top group for the Super Final in Nice.

We didn’t have our best start and in the qualifiers we had an incident with TPM (Team Toulon Provence Mediteranée) and we unfortunately put a hole in their boat. So we then had to really focus to get into the Super Final. In the final we had a really tough race with Vivacar, we were really happy to have pipped them at the line.” commented Saunders.

Speculating on tactics for the final encounters he continued, “It’s really close on points and a lot of teams have been having some difficulties so we want to keep the ball rolling. We’ve been sailing well in the last few stages and we want to keep the same routine and make sure that we really attack the raid tomorrow.

Saunders echoed the sentiments expressed by sailors and pundits alike throughout this demanding and unpredictable tour de force as he noted the exceptionally high level in this edition: “This competition is unlike anything I’ve done before, that’s for sure. Just to stay concentrated for a month is really difficult so it’s been an awesome experience for me and I’ve learnt a lot along the way. The level is extremely high, I always thought Olympic sailing was the highest but this is definitely up there at that level at times. It’s an amazing event and I’d like to do more of it.

 

Act 8, Day 2 – Race Ready in Marseille

July 27th 2017

Marseille is serving up some perfect sailing breeze today for the Nautical Stadium phase of Act 8 of the Tour de France a la Voile. Following a forced rest day due to yesterday’s blasting Mistral, teams should be feeling fresh and are facing a much more sailable 14 – 18 knots for a series of short, and hopefully sweet, qualifying races before the all-important Final.

With just two days of racing left before Saturday’s Super Final in Nice and six boats in with a chance of a podium finish - as well as heated competition throughout the fleet for top places in the General, Amateur and Youth rankings - each and every manoeuvre will count today.

The scene is therefore set for some epic battles on the water as the fleet of 29 boats, split into two divisions for the elimination rounds, go all out to finish in the top eight and progress to today’s Final.

For the top four boats in the overall classification (Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains, Team SFS, Trésors de Tahiti and Team Oman Sail), separated by just 20 points, every point banked today will be invaluable.

Qualifying races get underway at 11.15 and the Final is expected to start at 15.45.

Mistral takes over in Marseille

July 26th 2017

Act 8 of the 40th Tour de France a la Voile did not get off to the most auspicious of starts in Marseille as the region’s notorious Mistral wind put paid to any hopes of sailing today. While the Tour has so far encountered conditions crossing the spectrum from light and shifty to big and blustery, this is the first time since the event got underway in Dunkirk on 7th July that the 29 teams have been kept ashore.

After a transfer day and some rest, crews were anxious to get back on the water for a chance to gain precious points before Saturday’s Super Final of the Tour de la France a Voile. Unfortunately it was not to be as Marseille’s Mistral, barrelling along the coast at up to 50 knots since yesterday, showed no signs of abating to acceptable levels in time for today’s Coastal Race. Although racing had already been pushed back to the afternoon, with a forecast of 23 – 26 knots with gusts of over 30, it was no surprise when the Race Committee announced at the morning briefing that it would be cancelling today’s scheduled Coastal Raid in the face of such heavy conditions.

Experienced round-the-world racer Bernard Stamm understood the safety issues behind the decision: “The Race Committee is responsible and has to make good decisions. Whether the sailors want to race or not is not really relevant. The Race Director won’t take risks. We are here to race. Not to break the boats.”

The top of the leaderboard is tightly packed, just 20 points separate the first four boats: Fondation FDJ – Des Mains et Des Pieds (1st), Team SFS (2nd), Tresors de Tahiti (3rd), Team Oman Sail (4th), while Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan and Beijaflore Sailing are just a further four points behind. These teams will now be feeling extra pressure as only two race days remain before Saturday’s Super Final in Nice where the top eight teams of the overall classification will gain instant access to the decisive final race.

Speaking at this morning’s press conference, several of the leading skippers revealed something of their strategy heading into the final straights.

Damien Iehl (Fondation FDJ - Des Pieds et Des Mains): “This first place is down to sailing well, without putting ourselves under too much pressure, concentrating on our performance. Being the leader puts us under a little extra pressure, before we were chasing but now we are the ones being chased.”

Sofian Bouvet (Team SFS) : “The strategy to get back into first place? Concentrate on our own performance, not look at our opponents too much, avoid making any big mistakes and continue sailing well like we have done from the start.

Thierry Douillard (Team Oman Sail): “There are ups and downs for everyone in the Tour de France. We missed out on the Final in Roses by a hair. Then the Act in Grau du Roi did not go brilliantly. It’s all part of the game. We have reached a fantastic level with the Oman Sail project but we are still aiming higher. The objective is a podium finish - six crews are battling for those three places.

Happily, the forecast for tomorrow looks almost perfect for the Nautical Stadium races rostered. The Mistral should drop off to around 15 – 20 knots in the morning, swinging left a little and settling at 10-15 knots in the afternoon.

Team Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan should be feeling a little more relaxed than most, having already bagged victory in the separate Youth classification with an unbeatable lead of 121 points. However given their ninth place position in the general classification, co-skipper Robert Solune will not be taking his eyes off the ball over the next few days:

Our objective was always to finish first among the Youth teams. We sailed a lot pre-season and we got more practice than our opponents. But we are not stopping at that and we are aiming for a good place in the overall scorings. We will be concentrating on getting into the Super Final in Nice on Saturday.”

Qualifiers in the Act 8 Nautical Stadium phase are scheduled to kick off at 11.15 tomorrow, Thursday 27th July in Marseille.

 

Marseille Mistral stops play

July 26th 2017

After a transfer day and some rest, teams were anxious to get back on the water for a chance to gain precious points before Saturday’s Super Final of the Tour de France à la Voile. Unfortunately it was not to be, as Marseille’s renowned Mistral wind has been flexing its considerable muscle, blowing at up to 50 knots, since yesterday. Although the wind is set to ease off a little this afternoon, it is not expected to fall below 23 to 26 knots with gusts of around 30. Combined with increasingly choppy seas, the Race Committee had little choice but to cancel today’s scheduled Coastal Raid in the face of such heavy conditions.

The 29 teams participating in this 40th edition of the Tour will at least have more time than usual to perfect the set-up of their Diam24 trimarans, whilst taking care that they do not blow away.

Racing in Act 8, the penultimate of this edition, will now begin tomorrow with a Nautical Stadium day of qualifiers followed by a Final for the top 8 teams.

EYES ON THE PRIZES IN FINAL MED MATCHES

July 25th 2017

Due to the strong Mistral winds predicted for Marseille tomorrow, the race start time has been changed. The Act 8 Coastal Raid will get underway at 1.30 p.m. with the finish expected to take place off the city’s waterfront at around 4 p.m.

The home strait beckons for the 29 teams participating in the 40th edition of the Tour de France a la Voile: only the final two Acts in Marseille and Nice now stand between them and the final podium. The battle for first place overall will be a hard-fought one, but it will by no means be the only one unfolding between now and Saturday.

At this stage of the 2016 Tour, Lorina Limonade –Golfe du Morbihan was already practically assured victory as the team skippered by Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon headed into the final two Acts with a comfortable 55-point lead over their closest rivals. The situation couldn’t be more different this year as only 51 points separate the top nine boats in the overall classification. Leaders Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains, hold a slim 14-point lead over Team SFS in second place and are 16 points clear of Tresors de Tahiti in third.

Ranking changes have been a daily occurrence in this exceptionally competitive anniversary edition of the event and all is yet to play for at the top of the scoreboard in consideration of the double points up for grabs in Saturday’s Super Final in Nice.

Of the international teams competing, Team Oman Sail has been one of the strongest performers, however a disappointing leg in Grau du Roi – Port Camargue saw them slip off the final step of the podium to sit in fourth place overall. At just four points behind Tresors de Tahiti in second, they are by no means out of the running for a top spot, but they will also have to contend with Lorina Limonade- Golfe du Morbihan and Beijaflore in fifth and sixth place respectively. Both teams are 12 points off third place and could potentially achieve a top three finish.

Just 23 points separate fifth to ninth place on the overall leaderboard, so five teams are in the running for a top five finish: Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan, Beijaflore, Cheminées Poujoulat, Vivacar.fr CEFIM and Team Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan. A battle will also be underway for an honourable finish in the top ten for this 2017 edition, and a duel is set to take place between Coved-Paprec in tenth and Team Occitanie Sud de France, 13 points behind them in 11th place.

Teams sitting further down the classifications will be hoping to pull some surprise results out of the bag, just as Pays de l’Or Pink Lady Hérault did on Sunday when their 2nd place finish in the Coastal race gained them valuable places in the overall standings.

Amateur and Youth teams are also recognised within the fleet and with a three-way battle raging at the head of the Amateur rankings, there is sure to be plenty of drama over the coming days. Homkia / Les Sables d’Olonne Agglomération has led the group since Act 3 in Jullouville, however Emeric Dary and his crew will not want to take their foot off the pedal just yet as Team Installux Alluminium lie in wait just 18 points behind them. Third-placed Dunkerque Voile have climbed up the classification and with impressive 7th and 5th place finishes in Act 7 in Grau du Roi – Port Camargue, could also pose a threat.

The Finagaz Youth classification is dominated by Team Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan. With an average age of just 20, the Breton team outshines the competition with a 121-point lead over Toulon Provence Méditerranee in second place. Major upsets aside, victory in Nice seems to be a foregone conclusion. A scrum for runner-up places will, however, ensue among the second to fifth-placed boats which are separated by only 19 points.

Blistering Super Final shakes Tahiti from top spot Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains claim the leader’s blue gennaker

July 24th 2017

In the windiest of the 14 race days faced yet in the Tour de France à la Voile, another spectacular Super Final saw a sparkling Lorina Limonade – Golf du Morbihan take to the heavy conditions with gusto. Tour champions in 2016, Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon neatly followed up a 1-1-3 scoreline in the qualifying rounds with a resounding victory in the Super Final. Also on top form in today were Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains, co-skippered by double Paralympic medal winner Damien Seguin alongside Damien Iehl, who with a second place finish take control of the overall classification.

Celebrating his third win of the event, Delapierre reflected on Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan’s ups and downs: “We qualified well for the Nautical Stadium in Roses but then took a Black Flag. This time, with strong winds once again, we vowed not to mess up the start. We have had a few niggles since the beginning of the tour but today everything went well. This is a really competitive edition. The winner in Nice will have put their heart and soul into it.”

With winds blowing at up to 26 knots and well-formed waves, this was one of the most physically demanding race days the 29 already-fatigued crews have experienced so far over seven acts of the Tour. 

Twenty points separated the first four boats heading into today’s qualifying rounds, and 20 points separate them still, but with the rankings completely reshuffled. Trésors de Tahiti, tour leader for the past three acts, were knocked out of the running for today’s Super Final when they took a black flag in the last race of the qualifiers. This, combined with splendid performances from some of their closest competition, sees them relegated to third place ahead of Oman Sail, who also failed to qualify today.

Ever since Act 4 in Arzon, their poorest of the series with an 11th and an 8th place, Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains have been slowly but surely notching up consistent results and quietly closing the gap on their rivals. Silver in today’s Final sends them straight to the top of the overall classification while a fourth place for early tour leaders Team SFS - coupled with a win in yesterday’s Coastal Raid - leaves them 13 points behind in second place. 

Becoming leaders doesn’t change our strategy. Trésors de Tahiti were penalised today, but the same thing could happen to us too, so we need to be prudent. Whoever makes the least mistakes will be the winner in Nice. I hope that’s us! In any case a little break tomorrow will do us good.” commented Seguin, ambassador for the FDJ foundation which introduces young people with disabilities to the world of sailing. 

Just outside of the overall top four – seen by many as the strongest candidates to win this edition of the Tour Voile – sits today’s victor Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan, while a disastrous problem with their gennaker failing to unfurl robbed Beijaflore Sailing of an early lead in the Final and ultimately moved them back to sixth place overall.

Cheminées Poujoulat, with Swiss Round the World racer Bernard Stamm and former Alinghi sailor Jean Christophe Mourniac on board, took third place in the Final, racking up their first podium finish of the series. They now lie in seventh place overall.

We had a few little problems with our gennaker furling but it went well in the end. It was a lively final. We tend to do better in the Coastal Raids but Kinou (Mourniac) managed to get some good starts and we were finally able to do well in a Super Final.” explained Stamm.

“Our aim is to finish in the top five. We are going to hang in there and try to avoid any big mistakes that could penalise us. At the minute we are consistent so that’s not bad.”

Tomorrow, Tuesday July 25th, will be a transfer day with teams on the move to Marseille for the penultimate act of this Tour. Racing will resume on Wednesday with a Coastal Raid on the cards. 



Big breeze for Nautical Stadium racing

July 24th 2017

Day two for the Tour de France à la Voile in Grau du Roi – Port Camargue and the teams are facing the Nautical Stadium phase of Act 7 in an already stiff breeze that is expected to build to 20 to 25 knots over the course of the afternoon.

The qualifying races have been moved forward in order to avoid the strongest of the day’s wind and the Super Final for the top eight teams will take place at 2.30 p.m. CET.

We have a typical west – north westerly wind today of around 15 - 20 knots which will build in the middle of the day to 20 - 25 knots with gusts of up to 35 knots. So we’ve moved the programme forward. Taking risks is not on the agenda today” affirmed Race Director Christophe Gaumont at this morning’s briefing for the 29 racing skippers.

Prudence and control will be crucial today to avoid mishaps and breakages in these heavy conditions.

The crew on Trésors de Tahiti, winner of two of the six Nautical Stadium Finals already run, will be looking to stretch their lead at the top of the classification – currently eight points over Fondation FDJ – Des Mains et Des Pieds. Although the Tahitian boat, with skipper Teva Plichart, have retained the tour leader’s blue gennaker since Act 4 in Arzon, they will be facing stiff competition from Fondation FDJ and from Team SFS, who also have two Nautical Stadium wins under their belt.

Third-placed Team Oman Sail have yet to score a win but have qualified for all but two of the previous Super Finals in the stadium racing stages. Sitting just one point ahead of an aggressively determined Team SFS, they are eager to get to grips with today’s blustery conditions as British Olympic sailor Stevie Morrison explained:

We’ve had a couple of disappointing days in a row if we’re honest so we need to stop the rot and get some better results, start to look forward rather than back. Team morale is still good but we know we’ve underperformed for the last two days. We’re looking forward to a good windy day.

In this whole event fatigue is a big factor and I think for whatever reason whether it is fatigue or silly mistakes, for the last two days we’ve not performed to our best. So we’ve got to get ourselves back up to par for the next five days of racing.”

With two more acts left to go in the Tour several favourites for the top spots have emerged and with 20 points separating the top four teams each remaining race day is crucial to bringing the crews a step closer, or further, from the podium.

Patience pays in blowy Camargue Coastal Raid

July 23rd 2017

The 29 teams competing in the 2017 Tour de France à la Voile waited patiently for almost two hours under a blazing Mediterranean sun for the start of today’s Coastal Raid, the seventh in the series. When the breeze did finally kick in, blowing at around 15 knots and hitting highs of 20, it brought a mixed bag for the fleet with some teams rising to the occasion while others struggled to shine. The conditions proved perfect for Team SFS, skippered by Sofian Bouvet, who took control from the start, handling their Diam 24 masterfully in the challenging conditions to glide across the finish line at a speed of 19 knots with a fairly luxurious lead over Pays de l’Or Pink Lady Hérault in second place – in turn their best result of the tour so far.

Local knowledge of the waters off Grau du Roi – Port Camargue played to the advantage of the Pink Lady team as co-skipper Sophie de Turckheim explained: “We are really happy with this result, we trained here this winter so the boat is in its home waters. We had a fantastic start together with Team SFS who we have trained with in the past and we both fought hard, then we made a small error at one of the marks which cost us the lead. We’re usually more comfortable in the Nautical Stadium races but perhaps we are making progress as we go along. We can’t wait for the next stages so we can gain a few more places.

While today’s results have not changed the podium positions in the overall classification, a sound fourth place finish from Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains sees them shorten the gap from leaders Tresors de Tahiti, skippered by Teva Plichart, to just eight points. After a strong start alongside today’s top finishers, Oman Sail dropped steadily back down the fleet to cross the line tenth just behind Tresors de Tahiti, leaving them 19 points off the leaders and just one point ahead of Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains on the overall league table. With five more races scheduled these four teams have established themselves as serious contenders for the title.

After a decidedly depressing two days in Roses, Spain which saw them unable to finish either the Coastal Race or the Super Final – dismasting in the first and earning a black flag for crossing the starting line early in the second – Team SFS was back on superlative form today. A comfortable win amidst the heavy winds and considerable current that characterised racing in the gulf of Aigues-Mortes today brings their tally of victories thus far to five, three in the Coastal Raids and two in the Nautical Stadium Finals, and will no doubt provide a much needed boost to team moral.

The win is good but it’s a pity it always has to come after a problem or a breakage. Losing the mast two days ago was really tough and being able to react like this is just great. We are going to do our best to finish in style. After Arzon we said we needed to be as consistent as possible and that’s what we were doing when we had the break in Roses. It was disappointing having that problem but we are going for a clean finish.

While it was clear early on which teams would likely take the top two spots in today’s Coastal Raid, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan, winners of the 2016 edition of the event, won a heated four-way battle for third place with Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains, amateur team Homkia / Les Sables d’Olonne Agglomération and Beijaflore Sailing.

Although the Pays de l’Or Pink Lady Hérault crew clearly felt a home advantage having trained in neighbouring Le Grande Motte, home team Team Occitanie Sud de France made a few mistakes on their way around the course and only managed to finish in the middle of the fleet. Team Occitanie’s manager Kito Pavant, a local well known for his three Vendée Globe campaigns and a former Tour de France à la Voile winner, underlined his crew’s ambition to finish in the top ten in this edition of the event: “This is an exciting edition of the tour to follow with real battles going on at every stage. Team Occitanie Sud de France still has a few days to make it into the top ten overall. They are capable of making sparks!

Racing continues in Grau du Roi – Port Camargue tomorrow, Monday July 24th, with the teams getting to grips with another fast and furious round of Nautical Stadium qualifiers leading to the Super Final for just eight boats.

Competition heats up in Aigues Mortes.

July 23rd 2017

As the Tour Voile returns to France after a lively leg just across the border in Spain, all eyes will be on the home team Occitanie Sud de France as the 29 competing crews take to the waters off Grau du Roi - Port Camargue for the day one of Act 7 and a 42-mile Coastal Raid in the bay of Aigues-Mortes.

With a different team having claimed victory in each of the previous distance races and just six race days left until the end of this three-week tour, it will be interesting to see which team rises to the top on this hot and humid Sunday in the Occitanie region.

Although the breeze is extremely light this morning, it is forecast to build, reaching 15 to 20 knots in the afternoon while temperatures could easily top 40 degrees.

Team Occitanie Sud de France is co-skippered by four-time Nacra 17 World champion Billy Besson who attended this morning’s press conference at the Yacht Club and commented on the marked rise in the level of competition in this year’s event.

“There has been a real evolution in the tour over the past two years. At least 10 or 12 of these boats are really well prepared. A lot of the teams have been training hard and you can feel that on the water where the battles are at a different level.”

Today’s Coastal Raid is scheduled to kick off at 12.30 CET.

Tour Leaders Trésors de Tahiti In The Chocolates in Roses.

July 22nd 2017

Téva Plichart’s Trésors de Tahiti showed all the traits of potential Tour Voile champions not just in the smooth, assured manner in which they won today’s Act 6 Super Final but also the way in which they managed their route into the final in Roses, Costa Brava.

Remarkably the Tour leaders sailed a complete facsimile of their 2016 Act in Roses. Then they sailed an 11th in the coastal race after an early option went wrong and then won in the Stadium. Act 6 of the 40th Tour proved an exact copy of last year.

The tour leaders once more stayed super consistent over their five qualifying heats on the Bay of Roses. They won just one of their races but qualified second.

But when it counted, in 18kts of brisk Costa Brava sea breeze, Teva Plichart, Pierre Pennec and Manueta Mahahi won the Super Final start and blasted into an early lead which was never challenged. In contrast Team SFS and 2016 champions Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan both fell foul of Black Flag Disqualifications at the start and had to return early to the Boat Park, both ballasted down by maximum points from the high octane Super Final.

Since Act 2 Fécamp when they missed qualification, Trésors de Tahiti have sailed 4,1,4,1 from the four Super Finals. Today with Team FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains finishing sixth of sixth in the Final and Team Oman Sail missing the final, Team SFS and Black Flagged, Trésors de Tahiti extend their cushion at the top of the leaderboard to 13pts.

Ironically there is a certain sense of Roses déjà vu for the Tahiti team. Last year they botched their coastal race but won in the Stadium. Yesterday Plichart and crew were last at the first mark after taking an offshore option and losing out badly. They fought back to cross the finish in 11th and today, like last year, they triumphed in the short course arena. The results are identical to last year when they did the same thing in the coastal race, big, different option same result -11th – prior to winning their first stadium race on the Roses race track this time last year. Plichart is a former youth match racing champion who finished second on the Tour before, Pierre Pennec finished fourth in the Tornado in 2000 sailing with Yann Guichard. 

“It is the same thing this time but we are very happy to lead. SFS and Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan were really pressing at the start. Fondation FDJ Des Pieds et Des Mains got six points and so we have gained five points today. But we had to give it everything. We said to ourselves that is what we had to do. That’s what we did and that is how it worked out.” Smiled a delighted Téva Plichart, “We got good starts in out qualification races and had good tactics.”

In 18-20kts of blustery sea breeze the Roses Super Final was not short on adrenalin. Trésors de Tahiti did not put a foot wrong. Matthieu Souben and crew on Vivacar.fr had an inspired second beat to get up to second while Valentin Bellet’s Beijaflore, with Kiwi Jason Saunders on board, chipped away to take places and make a good third place.

Bellet of Beijaflore remarked: “ We had not reached a Super Final since Fécamp and so today we are very happy with our 3rd place. The start was a bit off the pace but we managed to climb back up. But we kind of ran out of runway. We could have got past Vivacar.fr CEFIM. We love it when the wind is strong.”

Team Oman Sail missed out on the Super Final for the first time since failing to make the cut at Act 1 Dunkirk. This time they seemed to have done enough but were penalised on the second beat of their last race, a port-starboard with Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains who were their nearest challengers for third overall on the leaderboard. The Omani team took their turn but dropped from second to seventh in their final heat, so missing out on qualifying only by one single point. Indeed only one point separated three different crews between fourth and sixth!

Mathieu Richards, Oman Sail’s tactician reported, “It was a very disappointing day for us. We were five points clear of SFS and FDJ going into the last race but we got that penalty. It was for a port-starboard cross which for us was OK. The umpires decided it was not OK. In these boats a penalty turn costs a lot. It is frustrating and disappointing but that is the way it is. We are very focused and motivated to come back in the next Act. We are sailing well even if today we were not quite as good. We were not as smooth. Our speed is good but maybe we were just missing a bit, not as smooth as usual. The wind was a bit tricky.”

Even missing out on the final Team Oman Sail hold solid in third places overall, five points behind Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains and ten points up on Team SFS. The fourth placed team who have scored two double wins have had a disappointing weekend, their mast falling down on the Coastal Race and then being black flagged today.

The Tour moves now to Le Grau-du-Roi, Port Camargue where racing continues Sunday with a Coastal Race and Stadium Racing Monday.

Act 6, Day 2, Costa Coastal Challenge

July 22nd 2017

The sea breeze did not come in yesterday and Roses offered a thorny day with lots of a surprises until the end. The local forecasters suggest that the usual thermal afternoon wind should come in nicely with winds to 15kts, maybe even more.
It is back to the cut and thrust of nautical stadium racing today. There has been no one team able to dominate in this arena so far on this 40th edition of the Tour de France à la Voile. Team SFS have managed two Super Final wins – in Dunkirk and Les Sables d’Olonne, but otherwise it has been Beijaflore in Fécamp, Lorina Limonade in Jullouville and Trésors de Tahiti in Les Sables d’Olonne.
Of course today represents the best chance for Team SFS to bounce back – as they have shown themselves capable of doing – after they lost their mast during yesterday’s coastal race.
The standings at the top of the General Rankings look closer than ever. Trésors de Tahiti lead by only eight points from Fondation FDJ Des Pieds et Des Mains.
So will there be another new winner today on the first Mediterranean stadium Super Final?

Outgunned in Roses

July 21st 2017

Double Paralympic medallist Damien Seguin, Damien Iehl and Benjamin Amiot  on Fondation FDJ Des Pieds et Des Mains seized their opportunity in the thrilling final metres to the finish line, eased past Lorina Limonade Golfe du Morbihan to steal victory in an exacting, difficult coastal race on a hot, humid, sticky Bay of Roses. Fondation FDJ Des Pieds et Des Mains become the seventh different team to have won a coastal or super final race of the 11 already contested during the 40th Tour de France à la Voile.

In a final sprint more reminiscent of the Tour’s cycling equivalent, a breakaway group of four each had a chance of coastal race victory today at the final buoy. Team Oman Sail had a win in their sights but in choosing to stick with Lorina Limonade Golfe du Morbihan inherently let the other two away. Limonade lead to the finish but Seguin’s team just had the pace to break through and win. 

A delighted winning Iehl commented, “We are super happy! The goal was to get back on the podium. The Mediterranean is difficult. You have to make all the right choices every day. Every day. But right now we will enjoy this win, you have to be regular. If we can just be in the top three or four every day we will be well placed in the overall standings at the end. "

One top team who did not have the chance to figure in the final chase is Team SFS. For all that the Mediterranean crew were primed to perform on their return to the sea area they know best, Sofian Bouvet’s team which have twice won discipline doubles – Coastal and Stadium races in Dunkirk and in Les Sables d’Olonne, their mast fell down in modest breezes downwind under gennaker on the return leg from the Iles Medes close by Estartit. They score maximum points for their enforced retirement and drop to fifth overall. 

SFS’ Team Manager Lionel Péan explained: “It was a lashing which came undone. The mast came down gently during a gybe. We recovered everything and the guys will check it and restep it. We expect to be on the start line tomorrow. It is disappointing because they were going well when it happened. We seem to have had a bit too many disappointments, too much adversity and problems for my liking.” 

It was another difficult coastal race, affected by changes in wind strength and direction as the thundery, humid weather sucked the breeze out of the bay for periods. Often there was a wind inshore and some sea breeze further offshore but little in between. Tour leaders Trésors de Tahiti made the wrong choice off the line and struggled early on, fighting from last up to 11th – their worst score of the event so far – but they still head the leader-board by eight points from today’s winners Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains. 

“We are pleased to have fought back from 29th to 11th and that is what keeps us at the top of the leaderboard tonight. It was a real battle. We made that one error on the first leg and paid a huge price. But it is a little reminder to us what can go wrong.” Said Trésor de Tahiti’s skipper Téva Plichart.

Stevie Morrison and Thierry Douillard’s Team Oman Sail consolidated their third overall today thanks to a good fourth place. With SFS dropping points because of their mast, Oman Sail have just a little breathing space behind them, 11pts now to SFS.

“It was a tough race. The wind was off the shore. The strategic models said go offshore early and the wind would bend round to the island. Tahiti went for that early and lost a lot. We were in the pack and Thierry did a fantastic job calling us to hold where we were. That was a nervous ten minutes as there were boats screaming along inshore of us. But we held out and got up to fifth or sixth.” Explained Stevie Morrison, “Into the finish we were up to second but the wind shut off. It was a straight line to the finish. We had Limonade holding a high angle and we had to keep our air clear. FDJ in fourth were just able to go round the outside.”

“Everyone seems to be our main opponents. That was the best we sailed a coastal race. It was unfortunate the opportunity fell to the guy behind but we are closer to the leaders after this race. We did a decent job today. But as for our target…who knows what our target is? The main target is to be sailing better at the end of the event than we did at the start and we are doing that. But it is all there to play for now. There are seven more results and we are right there in the hunt. We could either win still or be fifth or sixth.”

 

Roses Set for Sea Breeze Coastal

July 21st 2017

The 40th Tour de France à la Voile reconvenes on the Catalan waters off Roses today as the final push in the Mediterranean starts today with a 43 miles coastal race. That is the planned distance but it may be shorted at any point.

The course is due to span the extensive bay, taking the 29 Diam 24 crews west across to La Escala the Islas Medas which lie off the point at Estartit.
There is come confidence that the sea-breeze should build during the afternoon, up to 13 to 14kts from the SSE although this morning it is a little cloudy and hazy.
This morning there was an international press conference hosted by the town of Roses with invitees Ruben Castells from Barcelona who is co-skipper of New Territories and with Piers-Hugh Smith who is skipper of the British team on Maverick SSR.
We are very happy to host the Tour Voile again and especially to have a Catalan team racing this year. The changes that have been made to the Tour three years ago have proven to be very popular and positive and hopefully we can see more Catalan teams competing in the future.” Said the Mayoress of Roses.
We are looking forwards to racing here and feel really at home. It is easier to be racing on the Med in the winds we know and, finally, with no current!” commented Castells.
We are a young team on our first tour, aged between 19 and 27 and we are really just learning as we go. We have sailors from a variety of backgrounds. The one thing which stands out is that the Tour is relentless. Small problems become big problems and so you have to try to be on top of everything. Our plan is to leave the boat in France after racing and join a programme or training group to learn for next year.” Explained Piers Hugh Smith, skipper of Maverick SSR

Med Big Guns Primed in Roses?

July 20th 2017

There is little time for rest on the 40th Tour de France à la Voile. There are a few hours in the Costa Brava resort of Roses today for the 29 teams to rest and recover after yesterday’s road trip from Les Sables d’Olonne on the Atlantic coast of France to the Mediterranean, but during Thursday afternoon the boat park opens and the crews can start re-assembling their Diam 24 trimarans, ready to prepare for the final push to the finish line in Nice on 29th July.

In essence the Mediterranean is phase two of the Tour. Roses, some 30kms west from the French-Spanish border, hosts the Tour for the seventh time. Today there are dark, thundery rain clouds across the expansive, horseshoe shaped bay and a gusty, offshore breeze, suggesting this might be a complicated, testing venue.

It’s a rest day, but it’s not really.” Explain Gwen Gbick of Team Occitanie-Sud de France who is happy to be back in native Mediterranean waters, “We recover just a little after a very tough first section of the Tour while the technical teams take the strain today to make doubly sure the boats are in perfect shape for the stages to the finish. You really need to have confidence in this last home straight.

But for the amateurs and the teams with lower budgets their sailors were around the boat park this morning. Aurélien Fernandez, tactician on Techneau, “We are taking advantage of this day off to repair one of the floats which we damaged in Les Sables d’Olonne. But this afternoon we will do some team bonding on the beach, before we start to prepare for tomorrow’s coastal race.”

The boat park opens at 1730hrs local time this afternoon.

And so competition resumes full on tomorrow. The coastal race is followed Saturday by the Nautical Stadium races Saturday. Trésors de Tahiti lead the General Classification on 468 points from the 10 different races sailed so far, two points ahead of Team SFS who – though tour debutants – are considered strongest in their native Mediterranean and have shown their best speed in the light to moderate conditions. In ten days in Nice the name of the winner of the 40th Tour de France à la Voile will be known. Before then there are four Coastal Races and four Stades Nautiques Finals. It is fair bet that the suspense will last until the final races in Nice.

High Pressure in the Med. No Home Territory Advantage to New Territories.

July 19th 2017

Wednesday is the biggest travel day of the 40th Tour de France à la Voile, time for the eight hour road trip from Les Sables d’Olonne on the Atlantic Vendée coast of France to the Mediterranean and the bay of Roses in the NE of the Province of Girona, close to the French border.

The long journey to the Med has a compensatory rest day afterwards but this is the stage of the nine venue Tour that the 29 teams start to feel a general feeling of fatigue. Ahead there are two days of racing in Roses where the Tour has visited seven times before, before moving to Le Grau du Roi-Port Camargue 23rd and 24th July, Marseille 26th and 27th and the big finish in Nice 28-30th July.

One team which should feel instantly at home are the Barcelona based New Territories. They may back in Catalonia, where Olympic medal winning Portuguese skipper helm Hugo Rocha is based, but he  reveals with his typical grin that he has not raced in Roses so recently.

The truth is I raced here at the Optimist World Championships in 1986 and that was my first and last championship here until now. But we are very much at home, for us all it good to be back in Spain. I am sure that the summer sea breeze pattern is very much like it is elsewhere on this coast and from that point of view there is not going to be any big advantage!
Things are going well enough for us. We have been doing OK in the stadium races but it is the coastals which have been letting us down. We are able to start well in the stadium but maybe here we can do better in the coastal race.

Spanish crew-member Fran Palacio originates from Gijon in NW Spain but is also one of the Mediterranean’s sought after racing sailors. He has sailed for many years with Rocha and won two world titles but also raced previously on the GP42s with Spanish Olympic medallist Jose Maria van der Ploeg

Since the 40th Tour opened on Friday 7th July in Dunkirk, 10 events have been played (five Coastal Raids and five Nautical Stadiums). Two teams have won multiple victories: Team SFS (4 wins) and Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan (2 wins). Other crews who have tasted victory are, Team Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan, Beijaflore and Vivacar.fr-CEFIM.

After the five Acts in the English Channel and the Atlantic, the top two on the General standings are very close. Trésors de Tahiti is only two points ahead of Team SFS. There is everything to play for in the Med.

Our record speaks for itself. We are consistent, we lead and we don’t take unnecessary risks. We are making steps forward all the time on the water and off.” Says Pierre Pennec of Trésors de Tahiti. "With Team SFS, we have both stepped a little clear of third and fourth overall. In the Mediterranean the points can go everywhere, so we feel good to have a little cushion." At 17 points of the Tahitian leaders, Team Oman Sail are third with Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains only one point behind.

We are sailing better now than at the start of the Tour and we are very satisfied with our performance even if we can do even better in terms of speed. In the Mediterranean, we will do our best to hold on to the first two, "says Stevie Morrison.

What of the 2016 Tour Champions? Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan have tasted the highs and lows this Tour.  The team led by Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon completely misfired in Dunkirk, notably with a 29th and last place in Nautical Stadiums which immediately put them on the back foot. They rallied well in Fécamp, fourth twice, and then completed a superb Act in Jullouville with a superb double. But they faltered on the Coastal Raid in Les Sables d'Olonne in 21st. They are some distance off the lead, eighth overall and 45 points shy, 28 points away from the podium.

"It's not at all what we had imagined in the pre-season. Mentally, it's very hard, "says Bruno Mourniac, one of the Limonade  team.

Team SFS Go Double Double but Trésors de Tahiti Lead Tour to Spain

July 18th 2017

Team SFS completed their second double of the 40th Tour de France à la Voile when Sofian Bouvet and crew added the Act 5 Nautical Stadium win off the sunny beaches of Les Sables d’Olonne to Monday’s Coastal Race win. But a last gasp gain in the light winds Super Final by Trésors de Tahiti means the blue spinnaker of the Tour leader stays with Téva Plichart’s team but only by two points.

Both Team SFS, debutants this year, and Trésors de Tahiti head to the Mediterranean, to Roses in the Province of Girona on Spain’s Costa Brava where racing starts Friday separated by a tiny margin after five of the nine Acts of this Tour have been sailed.

After Team SFS were docked nine points at the end of Act 4 Arzon for shipping an out of class anchor which was measured to be too light by two kilos, Sofian Bouvet’s team have delivered the perfect riposte, heading for the waters they know best. Bouvet said today:
“For us winning both events here is the perfect reaction to Arzon. But there is so much still to go. There will be lots more surprises in the Mediterranean which is our home. But now winning two doubles is good for everyone on the team.”

The leaderboard for 2017’s 40th edition contrasts nicely with last year’s when Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan had won three of the first four Acts and lead from their native Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean with a whopping 26pts margin. After starting poorly in Dunkirk, the champions lie eighth, overshadowed so far by the ‘Mojito Kids’ their younger, amateur counterparts on the Lorina Mojito-Golfe du Morbihan programme who lie sixth.

This time the Tour leaders Trésors de Tahiti have so far won only one discipline the Stadium Super Final in Arzon-Port du Crouesty, south Brittany, which they bolted to a good second in the coastal race there. But in Fécamp, Normandy they went 9-9. 

Team Oman Sail head to the Med on target for their goal this edition, seeking to finish on the podium. Stevie Morrison, Thierry Douillard and the crew finished in fifth today’s Super Final, losing a place in the dying breaths of the race, but remain pleasingly consistent.

“It was a long, tough day. We are well drilled so seem to be able to stay fairly consistent. But we made a good improvement in the windier stuff. But we did not maybe feel quite as quick in the lighter stuff later in the day.” Said Morrison, “That Final was pretty light and difficult. We had one race in qualifying where we were fourth and dropped to seventh. But we are working on the KISS principle, Keep It Simple Stupid, principle. We played it is a bit safe at the bottom mark and lost a place which, if we could play it again, we would have gone to the other mark. The standard is so high you are crossing each other by a foot here and there. If you nearly crossing and have to duck, for example then that is a massive thing. At the same time it is not a Merlin Rocket (dinghy) where you do two short, fast tacks under someone’s bow.”

“It is tiring. We are looking for a good eat, a couple of days with no wetsuit on will be nice. We have a good shore team. Peter Burling has stepped back from the role and so I can now praise our shore team. They take the load off. I do a lot of the driving. Like in the boat, I feel safest driving!”

The stadium racing off the busy beach of Les Sables d’Olonne started in 14-15kts of SE’ly breeze with the bay whipping up dancing white horses and small waves. As a nautical arena there are few Tour venues which come close to offering shoreside viewers a perfect spectacle. The finish line was tucked into the western corner of the promenade while windward turn was clearly visible level with Les Sables d’Olonne’s famous Cote West Hotel and Thalasso Spa, well known to the Vendée Globe finishers as their first real taste of luxury - big, dry, static beds and great food – after 80 or 90 days racing solo non stop around the world.

The wind died through the afternoon and became more unstable, making it essential to stay on top of the shifts and the changes in wind pressure. Two teams made it through to the eight boat Super Final for the first time, Aurélien Ducroz’s Coved-Paprec and the young team on Toulon-Provence Méditerranée. Underlining how close the racing is over the five qualifying heats, two teams missed the cut by one single point and only three points separate fourth from eight.

Hugo Rocha and the New Territories team head to Roses in their native Spain lying in 14th place in the 29 boat line up. After losing their mast overboard when a pin failed the British crew on Team Maverick SSR lie 24th overall.
At the top of the Finagaz Youth Standings is the Lorina Mojito-Golfe du Morbihan crew while the Amateurs division is lead by Homkia Les Sables d’Olonne Agglomeration, the home team of Act 5 who finished 15th today. 

Les Sables d’Olonne is Special to Vendée Globe Racers Stamm

July 18th 2017

Bernard Stamm might be considered an honorary local in Les Sables d’Olonne. The most French of Swiss sailors has started the Vendée Globe from here three times. He retains a particular fondness for the town, returning this week in high summer as he skippers the Cheminées Poujoulat Diam 24 on the Tour Voile for the third time in a row. When he went afloat on a breezy, sunny morning in Les Sables d’Olonne this morning his team was holding seventh place overall.

Act 5 of the 40th Tour de France à la Voile has a special place in Stamm’s heart. Les Sables d’Olonne is the historic home of the Vendée Globe and Stamm is widely recognised by Vendée Globe fans wherever he goes. They have a particular admiration and respect for Stamm, knowing he has started three times – in 2000, 2008 and 2012 – and unfortunately has not yet earned a bona fide place in the overall rankings.

I feel very familiar with this place even though I am more used to coming to Les Sables in November than in July! "He explains. "I have great memories here, and of course some not so good because the Vendée Globe has not always ended well for me (two abandonments and a completed circumnavigation in 2013 when he was DSQ’d for inadvertently receiving outside assistance). It certainly pulls at the heartstrings to go out and return down the channel each day. It is always in your mind every time you go out and in.

Stamm is taking part in his third consecutive Tour Voile. Naturally the weather is very different in July to the usual November fayre – even if last year’s edition enjoyed an Indian Summer send off – and he has traded the Southern Oceans on his IMOCA 60 footers for day racing on the one design Diam 24.

He is finding that the level is higher this season on the Tour. "The level is up a notch. Last year, three or four teams were ahead. For this edition, the teams have worked hard and it shows! Ten to twelve crews are able to challenge for the top places. There are fewer ups and downs, and places are much harder to win back.”

22nd overall in 2015 and 12th in 2016, Stamm returned this time with ambitions to break the top five. He has bolstered the team with Jean-Christophe Mourniac (2nd in the Tour last year) and Gwen Riou. And Stamm has given over the helm to Jean-Christophe Mourniac. At the halfway point of the Tour, Cheminées Poujoulat is seventh overall, 15 points from the fifth placed Vivacar.fr CEFIM. The place in the Top 5 is therefore still quite playable.

"Our record is a little mixed and we struggle for consistency, especially in the Stadiums Nautiques," says Stamm. "We often have good qualifications and we are getting to the finals, which is great. But then we have a hard time making it count in the Final and scoring big  points. We are regular, in the game, we fight with the best but we miss a little something to break into these first places. In the rest of the Tour, we will have to crack this to make the elusive top 5.

Oman Sail, Behind the Curtain on Tour

July 18th 2017

The zero coefficient prologue race which is a feature of each Act is obligatory, and for all that it precedes what can be a long, hard coastal race all of the teams take it seriously. It is a good chance to check the settings and speed after setting up the boat again since transport and to just get a feel for the venue, the current and wind bends and patterns.
Jumping on to Oman Sail with Matthieu Richard, light, skinny but powerful French match racing ace who is navigating as well as doing the front of the boat, Omani Ali Al Balushi is now one of the most experienced Omani sailors, on his second Tour Voile and an Extreme Sailing Series crew since 2014, and GBR’s double Olympian Stevie Morrison on the helm.

Winds are extremely light for what should be a simple upwind downwind warm up. ‘By this stage last year I don’t think we’d had a race in less than 15 kts of breeze. It was pretty windy all the time. So this is very different this time.” Morrison, who steered Oman Sail to fifth overall last time, commented.

Key, explains Morrison, is keeping the Diam 24 trimmed, weight forward and to leeward so the ‘windward’ hull does not drag, and making sure manoeuvres are kept at a minimum. He controls the main in the light conditions and the jib upwind. Richards is right forward on the central hull, under the jib looking across the course feeding info back to Morrision. Ali, perched on the leeward float as far forward as the rule allows – there is a white line - calls the breeze and both keep Stevie updated on the boat for boat gains and losses.

There is an economy of communication in the gentle airs, measured tones. Each comment is met with ‘copy’ from the listening recipients, acknowledging each message is received, understood and acted on if necessary.

“It’s important to bring the kite across nice and gently in the light, coming through the gybe.” Morrison forewarns trimmer Balushi. “Copy. Will do.” Is the response.
“I’d like to start down the line and go at maybe 20 seconds.” Morrison decides. There is a cluster at the committee boat to the right of Oman Sail and clear air and speed are much more of an initial advantage. Morrison times the line perfectly in the four knots of breeze. ‘Might be over’ Morrison comments, ‘Line clear…’ says the race officer. ‘Now that’s what I like to hear.’ Is the response.

We get off the line in good shape. Just to leeward and behind Team SFS, the Tour Voile leaders.
Ali is calling the breeze as it comes to Oman Sail. ‘Light patch then breeze in ten. Maybe 15 seconds’ he says, ‘Copy’ is the helm’s response.
“We are slightly faster than and closing guage on SFS, good job Stevie.” Richards remarks
We are most leeward boat of the fleet. The majority tack off to the right and are very slow. Oman There is a line of yellow marker buoys which delimit the edge of the swimming zone for the beach, a forbidden area.
“If I can just stay up and we don’t need to tack that would be good.”

Act 5, Day 2 Thunder !

July 18th 2017

The second day in Les Sables d’Olonne and it seems like there will be plenty of wind. Already the breeze this morning is whipping the flags around the race village and along the promenade and there are white horses on the race course. After yesterday’s coastal race during which the fleet was split, split and split again by transition areas, calms and random puffs – the last boats were more than 45 minutes behind the first, Vendée Globe finishes have been closer – today should be a cracker. So it looks like a great way to dive into the second half of this Tour Voile.

The winds should be 12-17kts from the SE with gusts up to 30 maybe with the thunderclouds. The breeze is forecast to veer to the south during the afternoon.
It was not a good day for the GBR team on Maverick SSR but it could have been worse. At the start of the Coastal Race yesterday their mast came down just after the gun. Fortunately there was no damage to the rig or to people. They were towed clear, sorted out the mess, motored back to Port Olonna and yesterday evening re-stepped the rig, ready to go do battle again today.

“We were just pulling on that last bit of mainsheet and we heard a bang and the rig fell gracefully, fortunately cushioned by the sails. There was no damage except for to the gooseneck which got crushed a bit when the mast and boom came together. But we checked everything and put it back up last night and we are good to go.”

Take That! Team SFS Come Back Strong in Les Sables d’Olonne

July 17th 2017

After being penalised nine points in Arzon-Port du Crouesty for racing with an anchor which weighed in two kilos less than the prescribed minimum and so ceding the overall lead on the 40th Tour de France à la Voile, Team SFS bounced back today in the most emphatic fashion in Les Sables d’Olonne, triumphing in the Coastal Raid of around 30 nautical miles or about 3hrs and 40 minutes of racing.

It is Team SFS’ third win on the Tour, adding to their Dunkirk double where they won both the opening Coastal and Stadium Super Final.

In fierce sunshine and light to moderate sea breezes of 5-12kts which created many transition zones and consequently spread the fleet across the Bay of Les Sables, Sofian Bouvet, Noé Delpech and Achille Nebout fought back from a terrible start today to finish in style in the shadow of Les Sables d’Olonne’s legendary canal which every four years sends off and welcomes back the solo Vendée Globe round the world racers.

But with second place today Trésors de Tahiti retain the blue gennaker, flown by the Tour leader, as the nine Act Tour Voile passes its theoretical midpoint today in Act 5. They lead the General standings by five points from Team SFS.

Skipper Bouvet said, “That is one that raises our heads again. We started last but stayed left of the fleet and got much more wind with that group. That got us back in the match again. It was a black day for us yesterday and so this is good for the confidence of the team. Today we just wanted to be regular, we focused on our communication, on keeping our eyes out of the boat to see what was going on, and keeping fast at all times.”


It is perfect here for us. It feels just like the Med!” Bouvet, a native of Antibes who trains with his team on their native Mediterranean, “And meantime it is a great battle with Trésors de Tahiti.” 

After taking the lead on the long eastwards leg to Bourgenay Team SFS increased their margin successively on each leg around the fifth Coastal Raid of the Tour. By that furthest east turning buoy Team SFS were more than two minutes clear. Between the famous Nouch buoy – finishing line for the Vendée Globe solo round the world solo race – and the Les Sables d’Olonne buoy they more than doubled that to over five minutes. Back at Les Petites Barges mark for the second time their cushion was more than 11 minutes.

But their closest rivals, beneficiaries of first overall at the end of Act 4, Arzon, Trésors de Tahiti, chased hard and crossed the finish line second. Team Occitanie Sud de France scored their best result of the Tour so far with third place.

France’s four times Nacra 17 world champion Billy Besson joined the Tour in Arzon-Port du Crouesty, stepping aboard Team Occitanie Sud de France to make an immediate impact in the Qualifying stages of Act 4.

Sailing with two times 470 world championship runner up Pierre Leboucher and Maxime Garbay today Team Occitanie Sud de France finished third behind Team SFS. Tahitian native Besson joins second placed Plichart to ensure there are two Tahitian skippers on the Les Sables d’Olonne podium.

Team Occitanie Sud de France has at its heart a collective of 15 top and aspiring athletes in water and mountain sports who are based in the region between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. Round the world racer Kito de Pavant is the team’s patron.

Besson, who struggled heroically to sixth place with Marie Riou in last year’s Rio Olympic regatta sailing with a herniated disc in his back, joined his team after competing in The Bridge, the Ultim transatlantic race sailing with Thomas Coville on Sodebo’ Ultim. The Tahitian helm has teamed up with Amelie Riou to campaign for the 2020 Olympics in the mixed multihull and before setting off on The Bridge was testing the newly foiling Nacra 17 with the French Sailing Team.

Besson, who like many top sailors missed last year’s Tour due to the Olympic regatta said “I have a lot of sailing projects going on at the same time as the Nacra but because I was sidelined for so long (six months) because of my back operation, so now I need to do all that I can as much as I can. The new Nacra  is a great boat, completely different from the previous one because the hull never touches the water and being so much faster it will be more dangerous. I sailed on the Tour in the Diam 24 two years ago. While the boats have not evolved much the competition is particularly tough.”

He summarised their race, ”It was a difficult coastal race for the first and for the last. The wind was changing throughout which created a lot of twists and turns. It was a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. For now third is a good result but tomorrow is another day! "

Team Oman Sail were first to recognise the additional breeze blowing off the shore accelerating out of the canal and along the sea wall and appeared to sail away from the fleet, but that breeze died for them and they lost out much of their initial gain while SFS and Tahiti, a few lengths to windward escaped. But Oman Sail remained solid around the challenging course, unfortunately just on the wrong side of a split in the fleet and crossed the finish eighth. They hold third overall, 16 pts behind the leaders.

Oman Sail’s co-skipper Thierry Douillard summed up, "It was a complicated, stressful, exhausting day ... These are the most difficult conditions. We had a nice start but we did not manage to escape with Team SFS and Trésors de Tahiti, we missed a puff and never saw them again. We found ourselves in the pack, with very little wind. I'm not happy with the day. But the damage is not too bad with our eighth place. "

Racing in Les Sables d’Olonne continues Tuesday with Nautical Stadium racing.

Act 5, The Tour’s ‘Equator’ in Les Sables d’Olonne

July 17th 2017

Appropriate, you might say, that the French town which is inextricably linked to the Vendée Globe solo round the world race also marks the mid point of the nine Act 40th edition of La Tour de France à Voile.

For those who have only ever visited Les Sables d’Olonne in November for the start, or even February or March for the finish, the seafront at its summer best is beautiful. Even by early morning there are hundreds of people on the beach and taking a stroll on the long promenade.
It is going to be a scorching hot day with temperatures due to rise to 33 or 34C. Winds for the coastal race will start out around 10kts from the E and is likely to die away at some point during today’s Coastal Race. There are two courses available – one of 43 miles which goes east along the coast – and one of two triangles which is closer to 20 nautical miles and that seems more likely.
Tenants of the top of the table spot now are Trésors de Tahiti who are now six points clear of Team SFS who need to bounce back here in Les Sables d’Olonne. Team Oman Sail are very much in touch with the leaders – ten points adrift.
At this morning’s press conference Bernard Stamm, veteran of three Vendée Globe starts, commented,
“It is very different here than in November, the weather is better for one thing. At the mid point of the tour it is sure that the level has gone up. Last year there were three or four boats who were at the same top level. Now there are ten or 12 who have clearly done a lot of work and so now every place gained is won hard. There are no easy gains and it is not easy to get into the finals. We miss a little bit here and there, we are good in qualifying and then not able to raise our game enough in the Finals.” Stamm, the Cheminées Poujoulat skipper commented.

Act 4 Super Final Treasure for Tahiti, Team SFS Lose Lead After Infringing Anchor Weight Rule

July 16th 2017

Trésors de Tahiti sailed by Teva Plichard, Pierre Pennec and Manu Mahai triumphed in a nail biting light wind Super Final on a fluky Bay of Quiberon, racing out of Port Crouesty, Arzon. Crossing the line for their first win of the 40th Tour de France à la Voile they denied a popular local victory for the young guns of Lorina Mojito-Golfe du Morbihan. The team representing Tahiti take over the leadership of the Tour after Team SFS were penalised 9pts by the International Jury because their anchoring kit was measured as too light.

The afternoon SW thermal sea breeze fought with the gradient NE’ly to produce very unsettled, fickle conditions which really tested light airs boat speed, clean starting and minimised manoeuvres in the Diam 24 trimarans. Indeed only three Qualifying Series races could be completed for each of the two groups before the airs became too light and unsailable.

Even so the Final started in just five to seven knots of breeze and it was the fast starting under gennaker which gave the early lead to Trésors de Tahiti and Lorina Mojito-Golfe Du Morbihan, Solune Robert and Riwan Perron’s team – average age 20 – which won the Coastal Raid in Fécamp. The early jump on the short first sprint was key.  The two leaders traded places three times during the Final but a perfect rounding of the last gate mark closed the door on the young team. 

Winning skipper Plichart remarked: "It's a great victory, we are very satisfied and happy tonight. The qualification races were tense with very variable winds. In the final the wind was a little more stable and we knew we had to get away from the start and hold on to that little lead we had on Lorina Mojito. Team SFS gave us a small gift by jumping the start. And so it is all on again on the overall standins. But we don’t get it out of proportion. There are five Acts and our goal is to finish the Tour on the podium. "

Louis Flament of runners up Team Lorina Mojito - Gulf of Morbihan, added, “We wanted to do well in this final. We are often told that our main weakness is our youth. Maybe that shows on the coastals when we are a bit inconsistent. But the more we do the more we will iron out these little difficulties.”

Reflecting how the level has risen almost universally since the last edition when Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan dominated, many teams training hard through the off season bolstering their team line ups, Trésors de Tahiti are the sixth team to win from the eight premium points scoring races so far, four Coastal Raids and four Super Finals.

The team skippered by Tahiti’s Plichart, who won the Tour in 2003 on Colours de Tahiti et ses Iles and was second in 2007 before a nine years Tour hiatus by the French Polynesian island group, move up to second overall on the Tour leaderboard.

Arzon-Port du Crouesty, Act 4 of nine, has not been good for Sofian Bouvet’s event leaders Team SFS. Midway through Jullouville, Act 3 – after three coastal races and two stadium races – the debuting Mediterranean team were 22 points clear at the top.  As they leave Arzon-Port du Crouesty and the 40th Tour heads tonight to Les Sables d’Olonne they cede their overall leadership due to measurement infringement. 

Team SFS led by Sofian Bouvet was sanctioned this evening by the international jury. They are penalised 9 points of penalties and so lose the top of the overall rankings that they have held since the end of Act 1 in Dunkirk. Trésors de Tahiti now lead overall by six points from Team SFS with Team Oman Sail now four points behind them.

After a disappointing tenth is yesterday’s coastal race when Team SFS compounded one bad tactical choice after another and ‘felt slow’, they jumped the start gun in today’s Super Final. The first team to be black flagged in a Super Final on this Tour, they were relegated to the role of frustrated spectators. Their points penalty caps a disappointing weekend for them.

Similarly a poor start from Damien Seguin and Damien Ihel’s Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains cost them and their Golfe du Morbihan weekend 11th in the coastal and eighth today sees them drop from second to fourth.

Two of the non-French international teams made eight team Super Final. Team Oman Sail were slow off the line but battled back to a useful sixth place which promotes them to third overall on the leaderboard.

“We made a bit of a hash of the start but Mat (Richards, tactician) did a great job of giving us opportunities and at the leeward mark the wind just shut down but we got an opportunity and took it.” Said Stevie Morrison, Oman Sail’s helm and co-skipper, “It is a bit irrelevant where you are on the leaderboard right now. You’d rather be leading than third, and rather be third than sixth, but this is such a long Tour.  I still don’t feel have really sailed well. We have sailed alright. I think we can win the stadium racing. And, personally, I really want to win a coastal race because I find them really good fun. We are happy. We are tired but we have a good spirit. We are quite relaxed and like to have a smile on our faces. There was a bit more tension in the team last year which has its positives over two or three days, but it is tiring and draining over a month of racing. Mat and Thierry (Douillard) are great guys and Ali and Abdul almost always are smiling. We have evolved as a team. Last year flattered us.”

And the Spanish flagged New Territories made their second Super Final of this, their first ever Tour Voile, finishing fourth today, just ahead of Oman Sail,
“We start well and now I feel that in the stadium races we can do OK. The coastal races are a disaster! We need to improve. I think our speed is improving all the time. But on the stadium races 80 per cent is the start and the race to the first mark.” 

Act 4 Day 2 : Gladiators Ready

July 16th 2017

Act 4, Day 2 and it is back to the cut and thrust of the Nautical Stadium. So far during this 40th Tour de France à la Voile two teams have complete the double – winning both the Coastal Race and the Nautical Stadium disciplines, Team SFS in Dunkirk and Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan.
After getting their first leg strategy correct on the Coastal yesterday top dogs are Vivacar.fr-Cefim. Mathieu Souben and crew are on home waters and will be pressing hard to leave the Golfe du Morbihan with bragging rights and maximum points.

Equally Team SFS have been dripping points. After Trésors de Tahiti’s second yesterday they are 11pts ahead. After five events, three coastals and two arenas, they topped the Tour table by twenty points.

Qualifying racing starts at 1145hrs and as usual it is all about finishing your group in the Top 4 and qualifying for the Super Final, eight boats head to head. The Super Final here in Port Crouesty, Arzon is due to start at 1545hrs local time here.

Home Run Win for Vivacar.FR

July 15th 2017

Vivacar.fr-Cefim skippered on home waters by Mathieu Souben won the 36 nautical miles Coastal Race of Act 4 of the 40th Tour de France à Voile to become the fourth different team to have won a long race, coastal discipline since the annual French tour classic started in Dunkirk on July 7th.

For France’s big holiday weekend, the Fete National, the famous Golfe du Morbihan and the Baie de Quiberon were at their picture postcard best as thousands took to the water to enjoy the warm summer sunsh ine and light winds. The region which has produced dozens of the proud sailing nation’s world beating racers such as Armel Le Cléac’h, Yann Eliès and Jéremie Beyou welcomed the modern Tour Voile for the first time since it evolved to its inshore Diam24 version and the seventh time in its 40 editions.

Vivacar.com Cefim’s Souben grinned, “The first victory always feels good. It's great to put one on the meter. We see this as a home win because we all grew up on this bay of Quiberon. The course was complicated. We fought from start to finish. The first attack we launched at the beginning of the bay of Quiberon. We stole the chance to get round Houat three lengths ahead of Tahiti and we kept these three lengths until the finish. It was real boat for boat contact racing. It is always stressful to have a crew behind you but these are the best kind of race to win. And to win here is fabulous. The level is right up there. It was close and stressful to the end and these are the best kind of race to win.”

Hosted from bustling Arzon, Port du Crouesty the Coastal Race took the 29 crews south into Quiberon Bay to round the beautiful little island of Houat, just 4kms by 1.5kms, lying to the SE of the tip of the Quiberon peninsula.  Trésors de Tahiti skippered by Teva Plichart and Vivacars.fr were among those who benefited most from the left on the long outwards six miles first beat as the sea breeze came in earlier than some expected, swinging the breeze right. That plus extra current allowed the boats on the left to rise up to the island while some on the right overstood. Vivacars and Tahiti lead the early breakaway peloton of five boats.

As the light breeze built during the afternoon, delivering a perfect champagne sea breeze finish in 12kts of wind and summer full strength sunshine, Vivacars.fr could not be caught by Tresors Tahitind the pacemakers took first and second.

Five boats were over the start line early. Among them was Damien Seguin and Damien Ihel’s Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains. They fought back to 11th place on the water but that result sees them give up second place overall to Trésors de Tahiti. Neither was it a good day for the Tour leaders Team SFS. They were 15th at the first mark, Benigeuets and chipped away to take tenth at the finish line but their lead over the ascendant Tahiti is now just 11 points.

Noé Delpech of Team SFS responded, “ It was the worst day since the start of the Tour. It's hard to get up there. We were not going so fast, most particularly at the start of the race. Then our tactics were not good. We tried to take risks to get back into the game. And the risk-taking did not pay. Soon you are paying twice the price. We then continued to attack to no effect. In the end we did something average. It is not a catastrophe but it’s not good. We will try to do better in the next few days. ".

Stevie Morrison and Thierry Douillard’s Team Oman Sail returned a consistent day. On the wrong side of the first split they chased hard for a useful sixth place which now gives them exactly the same points aggregate as third placed Fondation FDJ.

“Things are going in the right direction for sure. Today was not really that exciting. We were just on the wrong side of that first break when the wind swung and we were suddenly up to layline for the island with miles to go. But I say it is better to have a boring sixth like we had than an exciting eighth.” Commented Morrison. “This is all about the long game. We are not even half way through the Tour so we are happy to be able to be reasonably consistent. There are always little niggling things which are annoying and frustrating, but all in all it’s OK.”

Vivacar.fr are skippered by Souben, a team newly formed for this season under the coaching and management of three times Tour winner Daniel Souben who previously trained young multihull sailors on Morbihan bay. Son Matthieu has trained since 2000 at the Pôle Quiberon and sailed the 2011 Transat Jacques Vabre with Lionel Lemonchois. Third in the coastal race in Dunkirk, their win today takes Vivacars.fr to fifth on the Tour leaderboard.

After two wins in Jullouville, the local favourites – 2016 champions Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan finished third to continue their comeback trail, now seventh overall.

Hugo Rocha’s New Territories team hold their station just inside the top 20 on the overall leaderboard, while GBR’s Team Maverick SSR lie 26th overall, only just making the start line today after having to make repairs to their cracked main hull.

Act 4 racing continues with Nautical Stadium Racing Sunday before the Tour Voile moves Monday, Tuesday to the Vendée Globe pontoon in Les Sables d’Olonne’s Port Olonna.

ACT 4 DAY 1 : Champs Town

July 15th 2017

From one venue which was new to the Tour Voile, Jullouville in NW Normandy, the wagon train moved west to the other side of the Bretagne peninsula to Arzon-Port du Crouesty, adjoining towns with a strong marine and boating heritage on the SW side of the famous Golfe de Morbihan, the beautiful bay which cuts into the south side of the Brittany peninsula.
Act 4 starts as scheduled with a Coastal Race. Winds are due to be light although there is some residual breeze around this early morning as the skippers briefing is on.
There are two course options, both on the Bay of Quiberon – the bay which opens on to the ocean. Both are down to the little island of Houat and between 30 and 36 nautical miles distance.
Of course this is the home waters for the defending 2016 title holders Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan and Lorina Mojito_ Golfe du Morbihan teams, so there is great excitement to be so close to home with their region hosting the Tour for the first time.

It’s been a very short night for the British team Maverick SSR who last night discovered a crack in their hull when they were loading their Diam24 in Jullouville on the trailer.
I am not sure why it is cracked. We had a bout 60 litres of water in a buoyancy compartment. The Diam guys are working on it trying to get the hull bonded back together. It is all a bit down to the wire at the moment. It is a bit stressful. We enjoyed the coastal in Jullouville. Every time we go out we are getting a little bit better. We have been up there are the starts and then holding on to good positions for a bit longer. We need a bit more consistency.” Says Piers Hugh-Smith, skipper of Maverick SSR.

Champions Double Top in Jullouville, Team Oman Sail Runners Up

July 14th 2017

As the 2016 champions, Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon’s Lorina Limonade-Golfe de Morbihan bolstered their title defence with a hallmark double win off the beaches of Jullouville on the Baie de Mont Saint Michel, taking victory in Thursday’s 40 miles coastal raid and reinforcing that perfectly with 50pts for today’s win in an adrenalin pumping Nautical Stadium Super Final.

After winning Thursday’s long race Delapierre seemed to acknowledge that their chance of retaining the Tour title was over after their nightmare start in Dunkirk when they were holed on the start line during qualifying. But two wins, maximum 100 points, at this beautiful, chic NW Normandy beachfront holiday destination, sees the 2016 champions up to seventh overall.

Co-skipper Salomon highlighted Figaro racer Corentin Horeau’s tactics as a key contributing factor to Lorina Limonade’s win today, "It was a physically challenging day. We sailed well. Corentin's tactics were masterful. We had a great day. We pressed hard all the time, all the way through the final. From the start of the Tour it is obvious the whole level has shot up. We are happy to emerge well from this Act in Jullouville, it does us good after our poor start at the beginning of Tour. We have always been comfortable in the stronger wind. We do enjoy and profit from these conditions. We like it’s fast. Really we do not look too much at the general rankings because we know we are behind. We want to continue doing what we have done since Fécamp and we want to keep pressing and keep having fun and let’s see!”

Mistakes?
At the same time, just one third into the nine Act tour, there were telling mistakes evident today which may just be coincidental, but may also be the first signs of road warrior weariness. The first small weakness appeared in the Tour Voile leaders armoury. Sofian Bouvet’s debuting crew of Olympians and Tour aces had not finished worse than third in either discipline until they botched their start in the Final today and had to fight back to a fifth, their worst score yet. But their overall margin at the top of the leaderboard is 18pts after three Acts ahead of Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains with Tresors Tahiti on third, one point behind.

Team Beijaflore, Stadium Super Final winners in Act 2, Fécamp, failed to qualify for the eight boat final. Valentin Bellet’s team misfired with a ninth and tenth during their five group qualifiers today, missing out on the final by one single point to the CEM’s Sophie de Turckheim and Alexia Barrier skippered Pays de l’Or-Pink Lady Hérault who made their first final of this Tour.

 

And after a very consistent qualifying series when they seemed, at times, to have electric pace and consistent Damien Seguin and Damien Iehl’s Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains had a gennaker furling failure at the last downwind gate which did not really cost them, but again was a visible sign of pressure and unforced mistakes.

In contrast it was the best day yet for co-skippers Thierry Douillard and Stevie Morrison’s Team Oman Sail which finished runners up to Lorina Limonade-Golfe de Morbihan. Even so Douillard admitted that they had gone afloat with a technical problem which could have been avoided, again perhaps an error attributable to tiredness. But Team Oman Sail delivered brilliantly when they needed to. After two back to back seventh places in qualifying they nailed two excellent wins, crucially denying Cheminées Poujoulat a finals place. Then with second in the final the Oman crew move up to fourth overall, effectively climbing two places in Jullouville. They are only four points off the podium.

“We are travelling a lot, even if it is only the third act, already people are starting to get tired and that can mean small mistakes, like even in your preparation.” Douillard volunteered today, “To be honest when we went on the water we had a stupid issue with the gennaker, a mistake in the preparation and that put us in trouble for half the day. Finally it has been a good day, but that is the kind of thing that happens.”

“ I have done 12 Tours and won it four times. The end is Nice. In 2015 (when he won with Spindrift) we won on tie break on the last race. I know you must never give up. And you need to always do your maximum to avoid all the mistakes.”

Douillard added, “We had a hard beginning to the day, we did not have a very good feeling with the boat. We had some issues we sorted. We had to win those two races to make the final. Before we were taking time to sort our technical issues and we were too far from the line. But we said ‘right, now we need to put the hammer down’ Stevie got two good starts and we won both. For sure the level is so high now. Every small mistake is expensive.” 

Jullouville’s was the closest and most exciting Super Final of the 40th Tour de France à la Voile so far in front of a sizeable crowd on the sands and in the race village,  but it was the 2016 champions which prevailed. 

The breeze had eased slightly from the early afternoon peak of 20kts. Starting best were Limonade Blue and Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains the two raced neck and neck until Lorina Limonade – Golfe de Morbihan broke away. Under pressure at the penultimate leeward turn Fondation FDJ had a problems with their gennaker which would not furl completely.

Team Oman Sail started well, slightly to leeward of Fondation FDJ and Lorina Limonade, but were up to third at the end of the first downwind. They pulled away from Tresors Tahiti to earn a useful buffer. On the final beat Team Oman Sail went offshore, tacking out after the last mark and were able to cross Fondation FDJ half way up the leg, going on to cross second not far behind the Lorina Limonade-Golfe de Morbihan.

The 40th Tour de France à la Voile moves overnight to Arzon Port du Crouesty for a Coastal Race tomorrow Saturday and Nautical Stadium Sunday.  

 

Bastille Day, Heavy Rotation

July 14th 2017

It’s Bastille Day, the 14th July – the Fete de la Federation, a big holiday in France – except nobody seems to have told the weathermen. Act 2, Day 2 sees a chilly, breezy start to the Tour de France à la Voile’s 2017’s third day of Stadium racing.
The forecast shows 14-15kts of wind from the westerly quadrant but the disappointing thing is the temperatures dipping below 20! It looks like it will be only 16-18 degrees during the afternoon.
Once more today is about operating at a high enough level to emerge from qualifying among the eight top teams – four from each flight – to make the Stadium Nautique Super Final. Then the key is to be able to step up a gear and hit peak form for the Final.
After the light to moderate sea breeze conditions yesterday, today is more about strength and power and so most teams have gone for their heavier, powerful crew selection.
Super consistent Team SFS are on top, despite this being their first tour as a crew. Champions Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan are on the bounceback. Team Oman Sail and Beijaflore are only a couple of points apart in fifth and fourth respectively. 

Champions Bounce Back in Jullouville. Lorina Limonade Find their Fizz, Team SFS Move Further Ahead

July 13th 2017

Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan, the defending champions, got their fizz back today at the fashionable beachside summer resort of Jullouville on the beautiful Baie du Mont Saint-Michel on the 40th edition of the Tour de France à la Voile when they won Act 3’s Coastal Race ahead of Tour leaders Team SFS.

Around a triangle shaped coastal course of around 40 nautical miles, defined by turning marks at the Isles de Chausey – to the NW of the start – a long downwind offshore to turn at the picture postcard Mont St Michel reaching to the finish off the beach in front of a big holiday crowd, Lorina Limonade –Golfe du Morbihan crossed the line first, just ahead of Tour leaders Team SFS with early race leaders Coved-Paprec in third and Beijaflore in fourth.

Lorina Limonade, the team which dominated last year’s round France circuit, winning the event with an Act to spare, misfired in Dunkirk – notably having to retire during the Qualification Series with damage sustained in a start line collision. But in light to moderate sea breeze conditions today Team Lorina Limonade got ahead of their nearest rivals Coved-Paprec and Team SFS on the approach to Mont Saint Michel and could not be caught on the straight line sprint to the finish.

Quentin Delapierre, skipper of Team Lorina – Golfe du Morbihan was relieved and visibly pleased as his team moves one place up the leaderboard to ninth overall, but at 38pts behind the Tour leaders Delapierre conceded wryly, “Overall victory is no longer in our grasp, but we’re trying to win as much as we can and pull together. Whatever happens, this is great team and we’ll be doing our utmost to get as well placed as we can in the rankings in Nice.”

Second today Sofian Bouvet’s Team SFS increase their overall margin at the head of the Tour standings to 20pts. Over the five races to date, three Coastal, two Stadium, they have sailed 1,1,2,3,2. They lead during the downwind three cornered tussle to Mont St Michel but Team Lorina Limonade got the shift and pressure on the approach.

Today’s winning skipper Delapierre added, “That win is good for us. You don’t need to tell me! It was complicated. We got off to a good start, and in the first third we had good speed. After that, either we had weed or some other problem, as we weren’t as fast. We didn’t do well passing the clearance buoy. It’s been hard since Dunkirk, so we are getting used to that sort of situation. We never gave up. Kévin really prepared the course strategy and navigation well. With Bruno, we did what we could to keep the boat moving as best we could. We enjoyed the final downwind run, as the boat was more like the one we were used to manoeuvring. Even in the pre-season, we didn’t really manage that. This win does us good. Finishing was a relief and we really enjoyed it. For Kévin, there was a lot of stress, as it wasn’t really right for the forecast he had. He tried some tricks upwind, but the wind was further left than forecast. Bruno and I just kept trying to keep the boat going. It was a bit of a fight, so we’re not satisfied with everything. We need to find some solutions. We tidied things up. ”

Aurélien Ducroz’s Team Coved-Paprec, fourth overall last year, were the early leaders but slipped to third at that key final southernmost turn. Chamonix based Ducroz was better known as the double freeride ski world champion, took up offshore racing seven years ago, racing in the Mini 6.50 class, the Class 40 and Figaro. He spends 130 days on snow skiing and now a good 100 days a year sailing or racing. He spent the Spring skiing in Spitzbergen and aims to compete in the Vendée Globe in 2020. In November he will race the Transat Jacques Vabre with Vendée Globe  15th placed finisher Romain Attanasio.

Ducroz, who does the bow of the boat, explained today. "We were at the front for more than half of the race. Lorina Limonade – Gulf de Morbihan were inshore on the run SFS and Beijaflore on the right offshore with the majority of the fleet behind. At some point you have to decide who to cover. We left Lorina to cover the others and that let them off the hook. But it is good to be up the front, seeing we have speed and can live with the best guys. But it is a good day, a new start for our Tour.”

Team Oman Sail move up to fifth place overall on the results ladder, finishing sixth today. They lost one place on the approach to the last turn but were always in the leading mix. Matthieu Richards, match racing champion and navigator/strategist recalled:
“There were some windshifts we missed on the run a bit and we were struggling for speed at times, maybe not enough gennaker halyard tension, so we lost one place downwind. There are three boats which I feel are a step ahead, Team SFS, Beijaflore and Lorina Limonade, then there are a group of us behind.”

Act 3 Day 1, Light Wind Bay Race

July 13th 2017

 

Only light winds are expected for today’s Coastal Raid, the first event yet to be sailed at the new Tour Voile venue of Jullouville on the Baie de Mont St Michel. The forecast suggests just five to eight knots from the E. The race meteo ace believes there will be some thermal enhancement in the afternoon. Tidal flow is strong as we are at high spring tides.
There are two course option, a short version to mark VQ almost directly offshore from Granville, running down to turn at Mont St Michel, and one longer one which goes out to a mark at the Iles de Chausey, then a long run and reach back to the same southerly turning mark, a circuit off the beach and finish in front of the spectators in the race village.
Jullouville is less well known as a sailing destination than its near neighbour, the port of Granville. But it has a very active sailing club and centre with many, many racing and sport catamarans which sail off the long, beautiful sandy beach.
Swiss Round the World racer Bernard Stamm has been on the Tour Voile since 2015 and the Diam 24 with his Cheminées Poujoulat. This year though Stamm is doing the front of the boat and has passed the helm to ex Alinghi racer Jean-Christophe Mourniac.
"It's nice here. There is not much wind.” Stamm said this morning, “ I hope we'll have a little wind. Since this start of the event we have been quite good because we manage to stay consistent We manage to get to the finals but on the other hand then we have not really taken full advantage of this final. We have a hard time stepping our game up when we are in the final. We have to take more risks and for the moment we cannot do that. The level really went up. The teams have worked hard and it shows! "

New Territories’ New Horizons

July 12th 2017

Act 3 of the 40th Tour de France à La Voile starts with a short coastal race, expected to be in light winds, in Jullouville. After Dunkirk which has hosted the Tour 32 times in 40 editions, Fécamp where the race has been seven times now, there is some excitement to be in the beautiful coastal town which lines the east coast of the Baie du Mont St Michel opposite to Saint Malo. The 29 Diam 24s are lined up on the long sandy beach, ready for action on the bay which is world renowned for the beautiful Mont St Michel islet and iconic Abbey. The tides are significant, at nearly 14 metres, and so that will be a significant factor. The Race Officer Christophe Gaumont has indicated a coastal course between Chausey, Mont Saint Michel and Jullouville is likely. The light winds will gradually build in the afternoon. A race in light airs and with tidal currents, tough on the crews’ nerves.

All New
They fly the Spanish flag and are based in Barcelona but Tour de France á La Voile debutants New Territories are a truly international, cosmopolitan team comprising Portuguese skipper-helm Hugo Rocha, Russians Pavel Savenko and team and boat owner Alexey Semenov, and Spanish duo Ruben Castells and Fran Palacios.

Together they have already won world titles in the J-80 and more recently won a windy SB20 world championship in Rocha’s native waters, in Cascais last year. After winning in the SB20 they sat down and considered where they wanted to go next, to find a new target.
I did the Tour maybe nine years ago on a Mumm 30 with a team from Marseille and I loved it straight away. I have always wanted to come back and do it again.” Explains Rocha who won Portugal a bronze medal in the 470 class in 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and went to Sydney in the Tornado in 2000.
I suggested to the owner this is what we should do, he liked the idea and here we are. This is very much a learning year. We have had not so much time to practice, maybe only 30 days in Barcelona on our own and did a French regatta of three days so we are really here to learn this time.”
Most of the crew came from bigger boats, Semenov and Rocha met after the enthusiastic Russian bought a Grand Soleil racer cruiser, Castells and Palacios raced GP42s, IMS classes and Palacios raced the Barcelona World Race on Central Lechera Asturianas.
Except for the helm the Diam 24 is quite a physical boat to sail so that is hard work, but we have been pleasantly surprised how well we have done so far. We seem to be able to start well most of the time and do well in the stadium races which is the newest thing for us. Our boat handling really is where we can improve most.”
The Tour is exactly what I expected. It is great. All the staff on the organisation are young people. I think the event is really nice. Right now we are a very small team, we have no shore team support and are doing everything ourselves. Next year we come back and work hard.” Says Rocha who works for North Sails in Barcelona.
We’d love to get a sponsor for the future and I think that is a realistic possibility. The set up with the media and TV here is really great.”
We have been happy with the way we have sailed. We get better each day. It is great to be here are Act 3, another town and a coastal race tomorrow. We are loving it.”
New Territories lie 13th overall in the fleet but are ballasted by a 19th from yesterday’s Stadium Races from which they had to retire with two races to go after another boat hit and damaged their rudder.


QUOTES

July 12th 2017

Emeric Dary, skipper of Homkia / Les Sables d’Olonne Agglomération, top Amateurs:

The crew has some work to do on the boat after hitting something yesterday, so today is going to be useful for carrying out repairs. In the early part of this year’s event, we had some good longer races, but in the stadium races, we messed up getting going too early. So we lost out on that. What we need to do in Jullouville is to do well both in the coastal race and in the stadium event.” 

 

Damiel Iehl, co-skipper of Fondation FDJ / Des Pieds et Des Mains, second overall:

“We have planned to do some repair work on the boat to be in perfect condition tomorrow. We also have a briefing scheduled today with the whole team to talk about the timetable. We’re quite pleased with the start of the Tour, but we have to remain focused, as we know that things can go either way very quickly. It’s good to be able to get some rest today, even if we are well organised and perfectly set up and raring to go.” 

Beijaflore Win Act 2 Super Final, Team SFS Extend

July 11th 2017

Back for a second challenge on the Tour de France à la Voile after their debut in 2015, Beijaflore Sailing Team collect maximum points today as winners of the Stage 2’s Stade Nautique Final in Fécamp on France’s Côte d’Albâtre, just east of Le Havre.


With 2012 ISAF Youth 420 World Champion and 470 Junior World Champion Guillaume Pirouelle, from nearby Le Havre on the helm, Kiwi double Olympian Jason Saunders on tactics and skipper Valentin Bellet, Beijaflore overhauled the early leaders of the eight boat Super Final, Coastal Race winners Lorina Mojito-Golfe de Morbihan at the top of the second beat and held on to win.

After brisk 12-14kts SW’ly winds for five sparkling qualifying rounds, the breeze faded to 7-9kts for the Super Final, making the strong tidal flow a key factor in each decision. For Beijaflore, making sure they had set up perfectly for the lighter airs was an important component in their winning mix.

The super consistent overall leaders of the Tour Sofian Bouvet’s Team SFS Voile extend their margin to 13pts. They finished third today and now have sailed 1,1,2,3, never off the podium as the circus train moves Julloville where racing starts again on Thursday 13th July. Second overall are Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains (Damien Seguin and Damien Iehl) and third are Teva Plichart’s Trésors de Tahiti.

Beijaflore return to the 40th edition of the annual Tour Voile with the stated aim of winning outright. The team which is centred at Chatelaillon south of La Rochelle did not make a strong enough start at Act 1 in Dunkirk, 11th in the long race and 14th in the Stadium Nautique. But, adding 50pts – the maximum allocation for winning the Fécamp SuperFinal – to 48pts for third on yesterday’s Coastal Race sees them elevated to fifth overall on the Tour de France à la Voile’s General Standings after two Acts.

“We wanted to be conservative in the qualifying series and make sure we could ramp it up for the Super Final.” Said Saunders, “ That is what we did. The current played a big part in the day. First it was pushing us down a lot and then it was pushing us upwind a lot. And the wind, was crazy. It was very light in the final and we just made sure we were right on top of our boat set up, changing it to make sure we were always fast.”

We have done a lot of training. We have had some good results. We have good starts, we have good speed and how we sail the boat around the course, we know we can win the event. We just need to sail like we did today.

Saunders added:
“At the moment we are going well but you just don’t really look at the overall points and the leader board. There is such a long way to go.” 

The young team on Lorina Mojito who fly the pink colured gennaker as leaders of the Youth division started out with a big lead today and looked odds on to complete the double, and add the Super Final points to the win in the Coastal Raid, but with second today they are the top scoring team of Act 2 and lie seventh overall.

Upwards progress of sorts for Oman Sail who sailed a good Qualifying Series and finished fifth in the Super Final. They were slightly tame after the start line in the lighter conditions. Although still sixth on the General Standings they are on the same aggregate points as Beijaflore and only ten points separate second from seventh.
“It was a lot lighter in the Final and maybe we were not powered up enough and so a little slow at the top of the first reach where SFS rolled over the top of us.  That is unusual so we were not so quick. Then it was a race of patience. We sailed well today, started well. Maybe in the Final we need to add more risk, then you have to judge that. We are happy enough.” Oman Sail Helm Stevie Morrison concluded today.  

After winning their first race of the day, going 7,8 in their other two heats Hugo Rocha and the Spanish flagged New Territories crew were challenging to make the Act 2 Final when their port float rudder was hit and damaged. New Territories flagged the other team who were disqualified but the damage meant they had to return to the dock in Fécamp, forego any chance of racing in Race 5 and therefore of making the Final.
“It’s disappointing not to get redress but that seems to be the rules, it is like F1 if you are damaged you are out. But that’s the rules. It was good to get a win though and we will be ready for the next race. It happens.” Hugo Rocha explained.

 

Grey Skies Over the White Cliffs of Fécamp

July 11th 2017

Act 2, Day 2 it is back to the cut and thrust of the cut and thrust of the ‘Nautical Stadium’. Although yesterday’s weather cleared away after a messy start, the sun cleared and the sun poked through the clouds and by evening Fécamp’s beach and the Côte d’Albâtre cliff landscape looked magnificent.


But when the 29 teams mustered this morning at 0845hrs it is under grey skies with rain. This time it does seem like the weather might be in for the day. But the backdrop to the Nautical Stadium is probably one of the most spectacular of the Tour.


Winds should be out of the south west, 13-15kts. At 1145hrs the qualification races start in two fleets. The top eight teams, four from each group, then race the one Final.


At the top of the table, two wins and a second already in the bank, are Sofian Bouvet’s Team SFS Voile. Homkia/Les Sables d’Olonne Agglomération hold the green spi of the amateur fleet leaders and the pink kite of the youth group leader is held by Team Lorina Mojito-Golfe du Morbihan.


Michel Desjoyeaux is on site in his role as ambassador for the youth fleet and will present the prize for Act 2 this afternoon. The Final starts at 1530hrs local time. Bring it on!

Lorina Mojito’s Youth and Speed, the Perfect Potent Coastal Cocktail in Fécamp

July 10th 2017

The young guns on Lorina Mojito-Golfe du Morbihan, average age 20, showed the 40th Tour de France à la Voile crews the way around a challenging, breezy coastal race of more than 30 miles, to take their first big win as Act 2 of the nine stage opened in Fécamp, just to the east of Le Havre.

The trio, already earmarked by the French Sailing Federation as some of the best young multihull talent in a nation, lead almost all of the way around the second coastal race of the Tour, extending away from the Tour leaders Team SFS in an impressive display of raw speed.

The Mojito ‘kids’, Solene Robert, Louis Flament and Tim Mourniac, made an impressive start in 14-17kts of NWW’ly wind but it was their electric reaching and downwind speed which was key to their victory. The youthful understudies left their senior counterparts, the defending champions on Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan trailing in fourth place today.

“For once we have pulled out a win over the pro crew, so we are really pleased. Everyone did a good job. The whole race seemed to take ages but we stayed well coordinated on board. We managed to extend our lead towards the finish.” Said 21-year-old skipper helm Solune Robert who was part of the France Jeune Team for the recent Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, a past runner up in the Youth World Championships and was French F18 champion in 2015,” I think we were fast downwind because we had really good communication and feel between the trimmer and the helm.”
“Physically it was tough, it was very hard  with lots of upwind and downwind sailing. It doesn’t feel too bad now but I’m sure we will feel it later.”

The young group from the Morbihan area were talent spotted but the FFV three years ago. Their training began in February alongside their senior champions. At the age of 19 Mourniac was Youth World Champion in the Nacra 15. The Mojito programme has been included in with the FFV set up so they have expert support and post regatta analysis.

Team SFS Extend Lead
For Sofian Bouvet’s Tour leading Team SFS second today extends their overall lead at the top of the General classification to ten points ahead of Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains (Damien Seguin and Damien Iehl).

After a slightly disappointing start in Dunkirk, Valentin Bellet’s Beijaflore Sailing grabbed third on the long coastal race which went seven miles west, upwind to Etretat, the headland which marks the east end of the Le Havre bay, fast reaching at speeds of up to 20kts back to a gate off Fécamp, tehn six miles east, returning to finish of the beach. Beijaflore’s Kiwi Olympian Jason Saunders was happy with their performance today “It was nice to be at the right end of the fleet. We were not so good in Dunkirk. We had really good speed today. We did not have the best of starts, I think we had a good feel for the boat and caught up nicely near the top of the first upwind and then really attacked on the downwind. We made good gains and are really stoked to come away with a podium there. It is tiring. The waves downwind really moved the gennaker a lot. It was good fun, just the type of racing we really like.”

Team Oman Sail finished with a slight air of disappointment at having slipped back to a seventh placed finish today having been up in third at the top end of the first beat. But their result promotes them back inside the Top 5 on the Tour standings after missing out on Sunday’s Super Final in Dunkirk,
“It’s a bit like my school report ‘could do better’’ helm Stevie Morrison admitted, “But in saying that seventh is a solid score we will probably get to Nice and consider it a useful result. “Tacking up the sandbank to start with was hard with 30 boats like this, there were good shifts on the shore and if you could get in a good rhythm it was good. There were some big waves at the headlands and so you had to watch where you manoeuvred. We were second when we got back to Fécamp but we felt like we were not so fast and having to stick our elbows out and defend rather than attack the young lads who got away a bit.”  Morrison concluded.

Fécamp, Back to Reality !

July 10th 2017

Fécamp, just to the east of Le Havre, is the location for Act 2 of the 40th Tour de France à la Voile. It is the seventh time the Tour has been here. There is a small front passing over the SE of England and NE France overnight and this morning and consequently the temperatures this morning are a bit of a contrast to the last few days of Mediterranean weather. So the 29 teams are assembling their Diam24s and preparing for today’s coastal race in light, drizzling rain with grey skies. The overhead should improve but the good news is that the wind forecast seems to promise between 13 and 15 kts from the W, gusting up to 20kts. Factor in the strong tidal currents here, strengthening in the second half of the race, and it can be a challenging day for the teams.

While Team SFS have racked up the perfect score so far, winning both disciplines in Dunkirk, today represents the best chance for the champions Lorina Limonade-Golfe de Morbihan to start their comeback after a miserable time in Dunkirk.
There are two teams from the north of Normandy, local to here, Helvetia Purple by Normandy Élite Team, the all women team skippered by Pauline Courtois and Helvetia Blue by Normandy Élite Team skippered by Victor Migraine.
From a sports perspective our objective is to try and get on the podium in our class.” Explains Pauline Courtois, “The project was put together quite late and so we did not really get a lot of time to practice together. We have plenty of scope to improve.
We are looking to go and score some wins in the youth class and finish around mid-fleet or just above in the overall Tour standings.” Said Aurélien Pierroz, skipper of Helvetia Blue by Normandy Elite Team.

Team SFS Debut with Dunkirk Dream Double

July 9th 2017

French 470 Olympian Sofian Bouvet and the Team SFS crew laid down a clear marker to the 28 other Tour de France à la Voile teams that the Mediterranean based outfit can already be considered serious title contenders to win the 40th anniversary edition. 

Despite this being their first ever attempt as a team at the annual three week, nine venue Tour, they completed the perfect Dunkirk Double today. After winning Friday’s 16 nautical mile coastal race in light breezes Bouvet and his team of Olympic class sailors complemented by two experienced Tour hands, added maximum points for triumphing in today’s first eight boat Super Final.

Former 470 helm Bouvet commented "We did not expect to win both the Coastal Race and then the Stadium Races here in Dunkirk. It’s a great surprise! We savour these wins for what they are but we also know that the competition is just started, the road is still long. Many favorites have stuggled today and that is precisely what we want to avoid. It can happen to anyone, any time. Sometimes you have to be a bit cautious at the start and build to take places. But these are little wins, not by much. But it is important to keep on doing it like that.”

Winning today’s Final in perfect, 10-11kts wind conditions as warm sunshine – more akin to their native Antibes YC than the very north east corner of France - bathed the Plage de Malo arena, Bouvet and crew of Achille Nebout and Gauthier Germain, qualified second in the Yellow fleet, one point behind Fondation FDJ Des Pieds et Des Mains (Damien Seguin and Damien Iehl).

In the Final they started strongly but read the strong current and the breeze better on the first longer beat, to overhaul early leaders Fondation FDJ Des Pieds et Des Mains and Trésors de Tahiti, (Teva Plichart). On a thrilling final run they were crossed by Fondation FDJ but when they came back on the right of way starboard gybe they were ahead and able to hold on to complete their dream start.

The well resourced Team SFS Diam 24 programme was set up last year and complements the Volvo 70 programme run since 2014 by Lionel Péan, the first French skipper to win the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1986. Winners of the French national championships, the Grand Prix de La Grande Motte and second in June’s Normandy Grand Prix, the crew shows similar hallmarks to the winning ways of Spindrift racing, victors in 2015 and the young Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe de Morbihan who won convincingly in 2016.

On the overall Tour Voile Yanmar standings Team SFS head to Stage 2, tomorrow in Fécamp by Le Havre, leadin with a perfect score of 100 pts, 50 from each of the two disciplines sailed so far, four points ahead of Fondation FDJ Des Pieds et Des Mains and Trésors de Tahiti in third. Ville de Geneve (Victor Casas/Guillaume Girod) lead the Finagaz Youth team standings and Homkia-Les Sables d’Olonne Agglomeration (Emeric Dary) top the standings for the Amateurs rankings.

Sweet Dreams, Bad Dreams
If the Team SFS’ start to their debut Tour is something of a dream, for Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon’s Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe de Morbihan crew who are holders of the title, their first days in Dunkirk have been a sharp contrast to last year’s sparkling launch here.

After breaking their tiller in the coastal race Friday, fighting up to ninth from 17th, today they were BFD in the first race. Hitting the all-women Helvetica Purple they holed the inside of their port hull and had to return quickly to the beach where, in a hugely sporting show of solidarity and support from other teams, the damaged hull was replaced in record time. Scored Did Not Enter for two races managing to return for a second place in the fourth heat of the day.

Helvetica Purple’s Sophonie Affagard was injured in the collision, sustaining a dislocated shoulder. She is reported to have been released from hospital after treatment.

A lack of practice in the Stadium discipline did not seem to hurt Spain’s New Territories team. A truly multicultural crew including the Russian boat owner, Portuguese helm Hugo Rocha was delighted to make it into the eight boat Super Final at their first ever attempt. After a BFD in their first race they went 3,2,7 to book a berth in the finale on countback. Sixth in the final New Territories lie 10th overall.

“It was incredible. We are so happy. We had such a difficult start to the event, having to paint the mainsail and put stickers on the boat very late. We are very tired and so today is very important to make the team happy. We started well and seemed to be able to go fast. But we have a long way to go on our boat handling. But it is a big surprise to us today. We have only sailed a few days in this boat but it is hugely encouraging.” Said Portuguese Olympic bronze medallist Rocha, a world champion in the SB20 and J/80 Sportsboat classes with this same core crew.

Frustration
For Stevie Morrison, Thierry Douillard and the Oman Sail crew, the chance to complement their Coastal Race fifth place with another top result eluded them as a result of an unexpected penalty on the last leg of their first race, followed by a BFD in the second race – an unfortunate result of a miscommunication of the final countdown. But Oman Sail go forward to Fécamp tomorrow in sixth place overall. 

“It was very frustrating.” Recalled Morrison, “We got a penalty when another boat unexpectedly match raced us. They went from fourth to sixth. They could have tacked and got fourth and we would have been fifth. I had a bit of a lack of anticipation what they were doing.  You need to be more aware of that when you are up against teams who might not normally be up near the front of the fleet. And the second one was just miscommunication at the start. I thought I heard seven and we deployed, next I heard eight and we were just too early! We were confident in our starting which is good. It is hugely frustrating with only four instead of six races today, being only a couple of points from being in the final. If you make it to the final everything resets to zero.”

The record 29 team entry for the Tour Voile means bigger and more competitive qualifying heats, placing even more pressure on the start line, especially the need to win the favoured spot on the line, going fast with the optimum route to the first buoy.

Black Flag Sunday
The dreaded Black Flag, instant disqualification for being on the wrong side of the start line during one minute before the gun, summarily penalised many offenders, including the defending 2016 Tour Voile champions Lorina Limonade-Golfe de Morbihan in the first race. The popular Aurélien Ducroz, double world champion freeride skier who finished fourth overall last year with his Coved-Paprec team, was BFD twice from four starts, as also scuttled the hopes of the local Dunkirk team Dunkerque Voile.  After that useful fifth in the Coastal Race Friday OmanSail hobbled themselves with a BFD in the second of their four qualifying heats. Hugo Rocha and the New Territories crew, , were able to compensate for their BFD aberration in the first race by sailing 3,2,7 from their next three races to squeak into their first eight boat Super Final of the Tour Voile.


Starts In Their Eyes Spell Success in Super Sunday’s Stadium

July 9th 2017

The tension is set to rise today on the Tour de France à la Voile, as the first series of races start in the tight ‘Nautical Stadium’ format, culminating with one Final as the highlight of the racing day. Winner of the Final takes the 50pts bounty.

Crews are divided into two groups, A and B, and race six qualifying heats. Then the top four from each flight go through to the eight team Final. In effect nothing is carried forward from qualifying. Racing starts at 1115hrs local time.
With a bigger fleet this year, 29 boats, that means the qualifying heats are bigger, the reaching starts are more critical than ever, and the overall level is higher.

The Final is shown live here and should be around 1545hrs local time.
Into the high octane mix add the fact that the breeze today is blowing offshore from Dunkirk’s Plage de Malo and it will certainly be a challenging day which might see some early upsets.
The forecast is for light winds only 5-7kts. It suggests that the breeze should clock round to the NW again but this morning it was a light S’ly.

Lying fifth overall after the first Coastal Race, OmanSail’s co-skipper Stevie Morrison explains their outlook on the day ahead:

Clearly you have to just make sure you get through the day in the top four in your group and then it is one race thereafter.  If it is offshore and shifty, in these boats it can be anyone’s game. The reaching starts are different from last year. Yesterday (during the exhibition prologue races) you could really notice the difference with 15 boats rather than 12 overall. You need to get away at the start. Yesterday there was a bit of bias on the line to play with and a bit more, and you could be a bit aggressive with your time and distance. We have practised a lot and have a good technique. But as soon as it is gusty like this then you probably need be starting up the line. If you are down the line and you are rolled by one boat, then you are rolled by them all. The game can be pretty over. There are always opportunities in the light stuff because a gust or a lull makes so much difference, like on any fast boat. But the lull is so punishing. Once you have three hulls in the water it parks! You need to get round the first mark in the first five or six then you are OK.

Hugo Rocha, the Portuguese Olympic medallist, is less positive about their day ahead, considering their lack of race time might disadvantage them,
Yesterday it was OK off the start line.” Says the helm of the Spanish flagged New Territories, “But it is our manoeuvres which are costing us. It will get better I am sure and we are working hard but many of the other teams have done so much more sailing than us on these boats!

Leaders on the overall standings are SFS, the team lead by French 470 Olympian Sofian Bouvet today sailing with Gaulthier Germain and Achille Nebout, also a former French 470 sailor.

Jason Saunders Kiwi Key Player on Beijaflore Sailing Team

July 8th 2017

Two times New Zealand Olympian Jason Saunders is enjoying his first experience of the Tour Voile. As part of the Beijaflore crew, alternating between bow and tactics or the mainsheet, Saunders is also keen to inspire his Kiwi compatriots at home and in Europe to see a New Zealand team compete again some time in the future.

Sailing with Gemma Jones in the Nacra 17 the NZ duo only just missed out on a medal in Rio, finishing in fourth place. Just as soon as the Tour is over he will return to the Olympic multihull to push hard to do better in Tokyo. Saunders was at Tauranga Boys College at the same time as Emirates Team New Zealand’s winning helm Peter Burling and is a club mate from Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club which has produced more Kiwi sailing Olympians in recent years than any other.

Long term he is hoping that Olympic and other success might forge a path on to Team New Zealand.

Saunders explained his first connection with the Tour, “ I live in La Rochelle and knew a few guys in the team. I asked them if they were looking and they took me on and it has been great. It is very different sailing in a team of three, I have not done that before and it has been a good experience.
We are hoping for a top five, that is our objective but if we are in a position to do better then we will push for it. We want to be in a position to push really hard at the end.
“It is the first time we saw the Diam 24 this year. Personally I have never done anything like this before, so I am excited.”

Of the possibility of a New Zealand team entering the Tour de France à la Voile in the future, he says:
“ There are enough Kiwis in Europe alone who would be interested in doing the Tour. It is a question of getting together and finding some sponsorship support. I would love to do it in the future with a Kiwi team. We have an awesome team with Beijaflore Sailing, I am happy with them. But if there was a chance somewhere down the line to sail with a Kiwi team that would be great.”

“ As for Team New Zealand I don’t really know right now, that would depend on the direction that the Cup goes in. I think that people in New Zealand would be interested. We need to build the reputation of the race in New Zealand and there would be a good chance of something happening.
It is such a cool event and a lot of people at home would love this kind of thing.” 

“ After the Tour I will go straight back into the NACRA and push to be in Tokyo but I’d like to do the America’s Cup. It is incredible to see how many people at home got behind the Cup and really followed it. It is cool to be a Kiwi. I know so many of the guys who were on the sailing team and it is awesome to have seen them do so well. I’d love to join them in the future. Doing well in the Olympics would be the best stepping stone, but again it would depend on what happens with the direction the Cup goes in. If it stays in Multihulls I would like to think I’d have a good chance in the future.”

Village People
The race village, or the Village Animations as it is known, is a hive of activity, as it should be on a summer Saturday on Dunkirk’s Plage Malo. Temperatures are warm enough to merit a day on the beach but the slightly grey skies mean there is time enough for a family diversion for a few hours in the Tour de France à la Voile’s village where there is something for everyone.
There are about 36 booths, including those of team and event sponsors like Isuzu, Yanmar (engines), SFS (securities and financial services), Pink Lady (apples), Martinique and Guadeloupe Bananas, Poujoulat (chimneys, flues and building products). Physical tests like supervised rope climbing up a Diam mast, grinder challenges, surfboard riding, and simple beach games like shooting basketball hoops, sit alongside ropework displays and teaching, even the Mickey Mouse Beach club’s inflatable giraffe. Most popular of all this Saturday afternoon was the sandcastle making competition where each person had a limited period of time to build a castle in a small sand tray.
Centrepiece of the village is the big screen where live images of the racing can be watched complete with commentary and comment, culminating in the daily live show La Quotidienne, between 1530 and 1630hrs followed by ‘Meet the Skippers’ as they return from the race tracks.

Show Time
Today was the first day of Exhibition racing which is obligatory for all 29 teams. This is the perfect opportunity for team. Competition is full format stadium racing over five heats with the fleet split into A and B divisions. There are no classification points available.

Show Time! Exhibition Racing in the Stadium.

July 8th 2017

It is the first day of Exhibition Stadium Racing on the 40th edition of the Tour de France à la Voile. These contests are an essential component of the Tour, a chance for Team sponsors, Local VIPs and supporters, the Tour’s own sponsors, institutional partners and guests to sail on board the Diam 24s in a full race environment. All of the 29 teams are obliged to take part and carry guests but no race points are awarded for the exhibition races.

There are five stadium races today, the first starting at 1100hrs each lasting around 25mins. The fleet is split into A and B divisions. The first race is sailed with a guest of the Team on board, the second with no guest, the third with a Media guest, the fourth with no guest and the fifth with a guest of the Organisation.
For teams who are less experienced in close quarters stadium racing today is a good chance to fine tune and get a feel for the courses. Winds today are forecast to be from the NW again, in the region of 7 to 10kts with the early hazy cloud giving way to some sunshine and temperatures around 22-23 degrees.
Yesterday was the first experience of racing in the Diam 24 fleet for Vendée Globe skipper Paul Meilhat. The experience comes through Mer Agitée, Michel Desjoyeaux’s company which owns Diam 24 which is chartered to Vivacars.FR CEFIM and which also manages the IMOCA SMA project o which Meilhat is the skipper.

There is the Mer Agitée link but also I know Daniel and Matthieu Souben well. At the moment my IMOCA SMA is in the yard being refitted and so I have some time to do other things. After two years full on with the Vendée Globe project I need to diversify my experience and racing. Today there is no higher level of racing in one design sailing. It is always top of the top in racing in France and even internationally.”

It may be his first experience in multihull racing but his background in Olympic classes and La Solitaire du Figaro is useful.
It is all about the details. I did not really have time to train very much before the Tour but the reflexes come right back, I can share my offshore experience and I have a lot I can learn from these Multi specialists. There is a lot to learn but it is also great to be among a younger generation. It is a bit of a breath of fresh air for me.

Today will be useful training for the young British team on Team Maverick SSR who raced their first Diam 24 race outside of their native England yesterday.
It was a bit frustrating for us yesterday we had a good start and good first beat. There was still a buzz for us to be alongside some of the ‘superstars’ like Bernard Stamm yesterday. We lost a lot at the mark rounding though.” Explained skipper Piers Hugh Smith the skipper, “But today is going to be very useful learning for us as we have not competed in the Stadium environment before. So it is perfect practise for us when there are no points at stake.” 

A Perfect Tour Induction, Team SFS Open with Coastal Race Win

July 7th 2017

One year ago French 470 helm Sofian Bouvet was making final preparations for the Olympic regatta in Rio where he and crew Jeremie Mion finished seventh. Today Bouvet made the most of the light breezes off the Dunkirk’s Plage Malo to win the opening race of the Tour de France à la Voile, a slow 16 nautical miles Coastal ‘Raid’, his first Tour race with Team SFS.

Bouvet, delighted with his perfect Tour Voile induction commented, “It’s a great result. What was good was we were able to sail in conditions we were used to. It confirms that in light conditions, we are up there. Everything went well. Four hours out on the water was fairly long and we were kept busy. So we are pleased with the result. We told a few jokes to try to feel more relaxed. I wanted them to understand that even if it is long, it’s going to be fine.

With three teams making something of an early breakaway, set up in part by reading the wind and current best on the short first beat when the breeze was probably at its best, after more than four hours of racing Team SFS glided gently across the finish line holding off Trésors de Tahiti and Vivacar.FR-CEFIM.

With GBR Olympian Stevie Morrison steering, starting his second Tour, OmanSail finished a useful fifth. Close to the top three on the first windward leg, one tack cost them during the approach to the first turn and thereafter no opportunities were available to get back in contact with the podium finishers.

Winning helm Bouvet added, “ We were always alongside the Tahitians and were fighting all the way against them. All the way to the finish. It’s partly thanks to them that we had to remain focused from start to finish. They found good speed upwind and we were not quite as at ease, so we had to focus on the sails and positioning. In the end, we came out on top, so that was pleasing.

The start was the weakest part of the race for the defending champions, Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan. Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon’s young team were dominant last year, triumphing overall even with a stage still to be sailed. But there was no fizz off the start line, they had to tack early to the right and pass sterns to find clear air. From there it was a long slow climb from 17th at the first turn to ninth, one place ahead of France’s four times Nacra 17 world champion Billy Besson on Team Occitanie Sud de France.

The 16 nautical miles, nine leg coastal course started in a light, patchy NWW’ly breeze of no more than six knots. A clean air start was essential on the short upwind leg, sticking with the best lanes of wind pressure to the first turn set off the Docks channel entrance.

Local hopes spiked when Dunkerque Voile started off the left, pin end of the start line and worked progressively left where the best of the breeze seemed to be close to the sea wall which forms the long channel into the Dunkirk dock area.
The Dunkirk team, skippered by Clement Meister, arrived at the first mark with a small lead but turned away from the mark taking a penalty for their approach. They handed over the lead to Tresors de Tahiti, skippered by Teva Plichard with helm Pierre Pennec, who is a winner of the Tour Voile in 2010 sailing with Bertrand Pacé.

Tresors de Tahiti held a small lead on the long kite leg eastwards to a turn close to the Flemish dunes and the Belgian border. Bouvet’s Team SFS crossed ahead of the leaders at the top of a long, relatively slow one tack beat back to the west and then held out to the finish.

Third placed Vivacar.FR sails with La Solitaire du Figaro and Vendée Globe racer Paul Meilhat on board a very potent team which is skippered by Matthieu Souben, son of Daniel Souben, the project manager who is something of a local hero, winning the Tour Voile four times as skipper of Courrier Dunkerque.

It was a stark contrast today to last year’s race Dunkirk curtain raiser in 20-22kt breezes for a 30+ mile coastal and the Omani crew were fourth. Considering that the level is elevated considerably by the return of Olympic sailors studded all the way through the fleet, armed with more practice time, Morrison was pleased with OmanSail’s fifth.

We have a lot positives from today and a few niggling negatives. We were very fast on the first beat. We had one bad tack in a tight cross with Tahiti and SFS and that cost us. In these boats one bad tack, having to do an extra manoeuvre, is really costly.” Said Morrison, “We were quite happy until the wind really dropped. We have probably not done enough in the really, really light. It was super light. That is as light as we have really raced in. It was a three and a half mile beat into two knots of current in five knots of wind. It was really light. We had a light crew today and maybe could not press the boat into the water as much as others when there was breeze. But that is a lot better than last year. Last year it was windy and that was our only strength so I am happy with fifth today, we are pretty consistent across the board.



Coastal Race 1, Short Course Challenge in Light Winds

July 7th 2017

The air of excitement and expectation around Dunkirk’s beach today is obvious as the 29 teams which start the 40th edition of Le Tour de France à Voile complete their final preparations and briefing for the first coastal race of the nine which will be contested between now and the race end in Nice on July 30th.

Because of the light wind forecast the course set is not too ambitious, a 16 nautical miles track with four longer legs and two short legs, finishing close to the beach. There are options to shorten the course if required. The breeze should be from just north of west between eight and ten knots. High water is around 1258hrs CET – local time – and the race starts at 1230hrs so initially there should be some slack water. Next high spring tide is next Wednesday so the tidal flow is quite strong today and will be critical.
Four teams were presented at the morning press conference, BE.Brussels –Caraibos, Vivacar.fr CEFIM and Trésors de Tahiti.

Vivacar.fr’s IMOCA 60 racer Paul Meilhat will race the first three Stages only. After starting in Lasers and 49ers Meilhat raced in the solo Figaro class in the MACIF colours before being selected to skipper SMA.
I just want to diversify my sailing while I have the chance and to do some racing in this high level fleet among Olympians, friends and rivals. This is such a close monotype and the racing is close. And I enjoy the experience of sailing in a crew” said Meilhat this morning.

Local favourite is Clément Meister, skipper of Dunkerque Voile.
There is no extra pressure from being on home waters. We are here with the support of our friends and families. These are our waters and so any extra pressure is positive. The current here is important, especially today.” 

Dunkirk D- Day Beckons Again for 40th Tour Voile

July 6th 2017

Dunkirk is where the famous Tour de France à la Voile started back on 1st July 1978. Appropriately it is from France’s history steeped North Sea port, just 10km from the Belgian border, that the historic 40th edition of the annual crewed race starts Friday July 7th.

Twenty nine teams are set to compete over 9 Acts culminating in the 2017 Super Final in Nice on 29th July.

The entry of 29 crews from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Spain, Switzerland and Oman represents a record level of participation since the modernisation of the event, stepping in 2015 from the M34 monohull into the Diam 24 one design trimarans.

 

The change to the strict one design multihull ushered in a revolution in terms of the racing format and objectives. Now each stop city, or Act, comprises one coastal race of around 40 nautical miles complemented by stadium style fleet racing. The fleet is split into two Qualifying Groups, each racing up to six 15 minute qualifying races.  The top four teams from each division face off in one Final race, the winner gaining 50 points, second 49 points and the third 48 point.

 

After Dunkirk (7-9th July) this year’s Tour de France à la Voile travels to Fécamp (10-11th  July) Jullouville (13-14th  July) Arzon Port du Crouesty (15-16th July), Les Sables d’Olonne (17-18th July), Roses in the north of Spain’s Costa Brava (21-22nd  July), Le Grau du Roi Port Camargue (23-24th July), Marseille (26-27th July) and Nice (28-30th July).

 

The dominant crew last year was Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan, co-skippered by Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon. Salomon considers the level of competition for this 2017 series to be universally higher.

Any one of a dozen different teams can finish on the podium. We have seen lots of different teams doing well at the pre-season regattas. Even if we hope that we are still a little bit ahead, we have seen many crews which are as sharp as us. So we are expecting a very close edition, it will be interesting to follow with the level much more even than before” said Salomon in Dunkirk today, the eve of Friday’s first coastal Raid.

 

Last year’s Olympic Games in Rio was the focal point for many top sailors. Four times NACRA 17 world champion Billy Besson races as co-skipper of Team Occitanie Sud de France. Double Paralympic champion Damien Seguin co-skippers Team Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains, New Zealand’s Jason Saunders placed fourth in Rio in the NACRA and races with Beijaflore Sailing. Renowned ocean racers such as Switzerland’s Bernard Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat and Vendée Globe soloist Paul Meilhat on Vivacar.FR CEFIM are among this year’s line up.

Team Oman Sail finished fifth last year and have set their sights on the 2017 Tour Voile Podium. The team trained hard in the winter in Oman’s Al Mouj Muscat and showed good early form, winning the early season Grand Prix Atlantique in Pornichet and fifth in Spi Ouest. Skipper Thierry Douillard is joined again by GBR’s 2007 49er World Champion and double Olympian Stevie Morrison as helm and trimmers Ali Al Balushi and Abdulkhaman Al Mashari. French ace Matthieu Richard joins the team this year as tactician/navigator. 

 

We don’t have a huge team, but we have a very good team,” commented skipper Douillard. “We have shore support, and there are five of us on the sailing squad. As it is such a long event we rotate, between Ali and Abdul, and between Stevie, Mat and I. So the guys not sailing on the boat are there to help out.

 

Portuguese Olympic 470 bronze medallist Hugo Rocha leads the Spanish flagged New Territories crew. Relatively new to the Diam 24 trimaran, Barcelona based sailmaker Rocha relies on a core crew with whom he has won the J80 and SB3 world titles. They were facing a busy afternoon and evening today putting their boat together.

We will get there” Rocha smiled, “We have not had so much time in the boat, training ourselves out of Barcelona but we seemed to do quite well in the early season regatta considering how little we have sailed. The stadium racing, short courses, are a bit of an unknown for us but we are good crew.

 

Racing in the amateur division, GBR’s Team Maverick SSR, is skippered by Piers Hugh-Smith are competing in their first Diam 24 event outside of their native England. But Hugh-Smith emphasises this edition is very much a learning mission for a projected five year plan:

We have had the boat for a year and recently acquired a training boat so we have been able to do some two boat training. Really we have only recently achieved the budget to be able to race in France so our expectations are quite limited initially. We have raced well at home and done well in the Diam 24 regatta there so we are just really looking to get better here and learn as much as we can. This is very, very new to us. The Tour is a five year project for us. Our objective this year is to immerse ourself in the fleet and race. Ideally we want to be near the top of the youth ranking.

 

The Tour Voile delivers a comprehensive programme for visitors to the race venue including a live show between 1530hrs and 1630hrs on site, racing live and interviews from the water shown on a big screen.

 

For all that the Tour de France à la Voile has evolved to the cutting edge, media driven event that it is now, 40 years on it remains to its roots, accessible to a diverse group of sailors of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring young sailors to compete on a level playing field with some of the leading sailors in the world.

 

The Tour Voile remains a reference point in sailing, following an interesting route. It encourages and embraces and diverse range of sailors from different backgrounds and nationalities, young sailors, and amateur sailors. It develops a strong media presence. It is unique in the sport” said Jean-Baptiste Durier, the Tour de France à la Voile Director.

 

A Short History of The Tour

In the late seventies, Bernard Decré decided to set up a race with everyone on the same footing with all the crews racing on the same type of boat. After some difficulties finding a builder ready to take on a contract for twenty 8m long boats, he finally got a positive response from the builder of the Ecume de Mer boats and so launched his own company to acquire them. The next step was to try to convince towns and local authorities to agree to his project. Once again, this was no easy task, but on 1st July 1978, the first edition started in Dunkirk with the finish in Menton in the Mediterranean near the Italian border via a passage through the canal du Midi, which would take eleven days. Thanks to all the excitement and interest generated at the stopovers and during the long voyage, many French youngsters developed a real passion for ocean racing.

 

This first race will be remembered for a passionate duel between sailors from Brest and Marseille. The crew from the Mediterranean slept on board their boat and worked alone to achieve a triumphant victory in Menton. Following this success, Bernard Decré ordered 25 First 30s from Bénéteau and cancelled the passage through the canal du Midi for future editions.

 

Dunkirk continued to host for the start of the race. In this second edition, local sailors led by Joé Seeten with some talented youngsters including Bertrand Pacé triumphed and the sailors from Dunkirk would return to defend their title successfully in the next two editions.

 

The Tour de France drew other future sailing stars, including round the world racers, Dominique Wavre and Michel Desjoyeaux, but also hundreds of students representing their town or school. The Tour was by the nineties a huge success.  Bruno Troublé took over the reins in 1995 with the aim of making the event more international. Paul Cayard, Chris Dickson and Russell Coutts competed. The decision was taken to move to an international one-design boat, the Farr designed Mumm 30. Manfred Ramspacher took over the race in 1999. That year the event began with some particularly nasty weather. Many remember Olympic medallist and four times America’s Cup champion, Russell Coutts stepping ashore in Dieppe battered and bruised by the upwind sailing in the English Channel.

 

Although initially criticised the Mumm 30 was appreciated by the competitors later, in particular by Bertrand Pacé, who won his first edition at the age of 18 with the Dunkirk crew in 1979. Three decades later, he won his seventh Tour de France. The Mumm 30 was replaced by an M 34 built at the French Archambault yard, but that was not going to stop Pacé, who went on to win his eighth title.

 

________________________

Tour Boats

1978: Ecume de Mer.

1978-1981: First 30.

1982-1983: Rush Royale.

1984-1991: Selection.

1992-1998: JOD.

1999-2010: Mumm 30

2011-2014: M34.

2015-present: Diam 24

Tour de France à la Voile 2017: a participation record

May 9th 2017

A participation record for the Diam 24 format

Since 2015 and the switch from single-hulled vessels to the livelier Diam 24 multi-hull boats, the Tour de la France à la Voile has not experienced such enthusiasm. To date, 31 crews have confirmed that they will be taking part, whilst others projects are in the finalisation stage. Consequently, an exceptional fleet will be present to celebrate the 40th edition of the Tour de France à la Voile. 

At the starting line on 7th July in Dunkirk, the major names of ocean racing will be joining the ranks of the Tour de France à la Voile, such as Paul Meilhat, or returning like Kito de Pavant and Bernard Stamm. Olympic athletes will also be making a comeback: Damien Seguin, two times Paralympic champion and skipper of Team Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains, Sofian Bouvet with Team SFS (7th in the Rio Olympics in the 470 class), Billy Besson with Team Occitanie – Sud de France (6th in the Rio Olympics in the Nacra 17 class), Manon Audinet, Félix Pruvot, Sophie de Turckheim, Pierre Leboucher, Noé Delpech (5th in the Rio Olympics in the 49er class) or also New Zealander Jason Saunders. 

Attracted by the Tour de France à la Voile’s new dynamic, the Teams and international competitors are increasingly present. Consequently, seven different nationalities will be taking starting orders in July, with competitors from Belgium, Switzerland, Oman, Spain, Poland, the United Kingdom and of course mainland France and its overseas departments and territories. 

There will be a strong participation of women with the presence of Pauline Courtois and her 100% feminine crew Helvetia by Normandy Elite Team, as well as the return of Elodie-Jane Mettraux who, after the most recent Volvo Ocean Race on board Team SCA, will be reacquainting herself with an old racing flame as the project manager for the two Ville de Genève – CER teams. 

One of the assets of the TDFV is its assorted field made up of experienced sailors but also young talents and amateurs” admits Sofian Bouvet, skipper with Team SFS. “This regatta is a coming together of sailors from different environments, from multi-hulls to ocean racing, not forgetting Olympic racing. It promises to be an exciting race: an extremely multi-faced field with many different approaches and a high standard”. 

Like the beginning of the season which witnessed keenly contested regattas, the standard on the Tour de France à la Voile 2017 is set to be high. The general consensus is that the teams are better prepared and race-ready earlier on, as explained by Quentin Delapierre, skipper with Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan and winner of the Tour de France à la Voile 2016: “The field will be very dense for this 40th edition with structured teams and the return of Olympic athletes”.

 

A validated race format

After a revolution in the format in 2016, 2017 will be the year of confirmation. With an alternation of water-sports stadiums and coastal regattas, black flags, finals, etc., the formula has proved its worth and filled the teams with enthusiasm.

There are several notable changes, such as the switch in finales in water sports stadiums from 6 to 8 Diam 24 boats. “It will open things up,” says Quentin Delapierre. “It’s good news for the outsiders. At the front, the competitors will all be battling to keep their places, because there will be a bigger risk of finishing in the bottom half of the table”. 

There will be plenty of challengers for victory, some of whom have featured in the top of the table on the Grand Prix Atlantique, Spi Ouest France or Grand Prix Guyader such as Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains, Omansail, Team SFS or also Beijaflore sailing. The Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan team, which especially stood out in pre-season, know that they will have much to do to retain their title, which they won in imperial style in 2016.

 

The Event Village: a genuine experience for spectators

For this 40th edition, the Tour de France à la Voile Village has been redesigned to put the spectators at the heart of the regatta.

As a result, among the new elements is the spectator zone in the heart of the Village: every 30 minutes, a race report will take place in this zone with a live link between the presenter and an on-boat commentator, in order to receive the latest news from the regattas and understand the finest details of the competitors’ racing strategies.

La Quotidienne (the daily programme) is the Tour’s TV show and will be recorded live everyday in front of the public between 15.30 and 16.30, in the presence of renowned contributors before being repeated the following day on La Chaine l’Equipe at 11. The France Télévision and Canal Plus groups will also be broadcasting the most striking images of the Tour de France à la Voile 2017. 

As regards events for the public, a Diam 24 boat entirely decorated in the colours of the FDJ Foundation will be on display at the heart of the Village, with educational presentations and sailing grinder activities. Inspired by the IMOCA, Accromât will be a real challenge for spectators who must climb to a height of more than 16 metres using the olivette system.

Tour de France à la Voile to celebrate its 40th edition in 2017

December 3rd 2016

2017 : 40th Tour de France à la Voile !

When Bernard Decré created the Tour de France à la Voile in 1978, the fleet navigated along the Canal du Midi to join the Mediterranean. French sailing legends like Eric Tabarly, Michel Desjoyeaux, Jean-Pierre Dick, and more recently Franck Cammas, François Gabart, Armel Le Cléac’h and Loïck Peyron have all played a role in the history of this race, that became one of the biggest summer sporting events.

Eight classes have served on the TFV since 1978, always based on the same principle : one-design. The Tour de France à la Voile is up to the sailors, not the boats.

Five new Acts

This year again, Tour de France à la Voile will visit some of the most beautiful seashores. After 2016 and its Mediterranean oriented course, the event will spend more time on the North-West coastline and have two stops in Normandy : Fécamp, and Jullouville, that the TFV will visit for the very first time. With its new format and the Diam 24 trimarans, the event has now the possibility to set the Paddocks and the technical zone directly on the beach, as well as in ports. Note that the Act in Jullouville will climax with a unique Coastal Race in the Bay of Mont Saint Michel ! 

TFV will then stop in Brittany, in Arzon and Le Crousty, just outside of the Gulf of Morbihan, with a coastal race in the Bay of Quiberon, and a last Atlantic Act in Les Sables d’Olonne, before visiting the Mediterranean coastline, including a stop in Le Grau du Roi-Port Camargue which will welcome the event for the 12th time.

An extended and varied line-up

More than ever, the TFV will gather professionnal sailors, amateurs, young talents and experienced sailors from offshore racing, olympic racing or match racing. Entries have opened last Monday and the event has already received a large number of forms, which could lead to a record participation in 2017.

Last year’s champion Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan (Quentin Delapierre et Matthieu Salomon) will defend its title with Amateur team mates Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan. Swiss Geneva CER team will come back on the Tour with Elodie-Jane Mettraux and two boats in competition for their 30th participation ! And this year, the TFV will be even more international with a British team skippered by Piers Hugh Smith, and a Polish team led by Piotr Weltrowski and Filip Walczak.

Approved racing format

In 2014 the Tour had a revolution with the introduction of the Diam 24 trimaran and a change of racing format in 2016 : stadium racing and coastal racing alternating, black-flag starts, Grand Final… The event new racing format was widely approved last year and will be renewed in 2017.

The event will also introduce a Women’s ranking in order to highlight 100% female teams and support their participation in the TFV.

Jean-Baptiste Durier, Tour de France à la Voile Director : 

« We are going to celebrate the Tour de France à la Voile 40th anniversary.We are very proud of this legacy. In 2015 we decided to reinvent the race and to lead it towards a faster, more spectacular and more public orientated way of sailing, in line with the America’s Cup. This new racing format delivered a fantastic event last year and was approved by the whole Tour community : sailors, sponsors, medias and also the public who came and visit us in July. From Dunkirk to Nice, we are expected hundreds of thousands of spectators to come, meet the crew and watch the thirty boats offering us an outstanding sailing show ! »

Tour de France à la Voile 2017 registration opening

November 28th 2016

The Tour de France à la Voile 2017 registrations are now open ! You will find on the official website the registration procedure :

TFV 2017 Invitation Request Document : Download the Form
Also available on : www.tourvoile.fr/

Reminder, registration and order on the waiting list will be taken on a first-come first-served basis of complete files, received by post (date as per postmark).

As with every year, the Tour de France à la Voile 2017 route presentation will take place on the main stage of the Paris boat show, at the opening of the exhibition, Saturday the 3rd of December 2019 at 11 AM.

2016 TDFV wrap up

July 31st 2016

They have flown over their Tour from Dunkirk to Nice. Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan is the master winner of this 2016 TDFV. The young squad of friends lead my Matthieu Salomon and Quentin Delapierre, who finished First Amateur last year and 4th overall, won 10 of the 17 racing days (nine coastal and eight stadium racing) , with a total of 64 point lead. « We will need some time to realise that we have won the Tour, but we are already super stoked. What we have done is impressive in terms of results. We were very focused to keep sailing the same way, race after race, day after day », said Kevin Peponnet. 

Tour de France Voile 2016, Hyeres le 27 Juillet 2016
Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO
Tour de France Voile 2016, Hyeres le 27 Juillet 2016 Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO - Jean Marie Liot / ASO

Only six teams out of 24 have won a racing day : Lorina Limonade Golfe du Morbihan, Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne, Trésors de Tahiti, Team Coved and Helvetia Blue by Normandy Elite Team. And surprisingly, second place overall Grandeur Nature Vérandas, has not won any. They have just been consistent with eight podium places. 

Looking at the 2016 TDFV numbers, Race Director Christophe Gaumont said : « Race committee gave the starting signal 102 times. There has been 61 qualifying races, eight grand finals, with 59 black flag (when a boat is disqualified for crossing the start line early) ». 

2016 Tour is over and some teams are already looking ahead, like Oman Airports by Oman Sail who is planning to come back next year, maybe with two Diam 24 and more Omani crew, and like Trésors de Tahiti. « The Tahiti campaign is a three year project with the objective of winning the Tour while training young tahitian sailors  », explains helmsman Pierre Pennec. « Our partners are happy with our results this year so I hope that we will keep attracting more partners for the next two years. It’s such a beautiful campaign, sportively and humanly » 

Young and Amateur category saw the victory of Team France Jeune, after a fierce battle against Team Lorina Mojito, Golfe du Morbihan. The two teams are made of french young guns of sailing who have had specific training and support of big team organisations. Unlike third place Natixis – YC Saint-Lunaire, who is the first real amateur campaign with low budget, yacht-club and corinthian spirit. « Of course we would have like to win in Young and Amateur Rankings, but we are not disppointed with our third place, since the two boats in front of us are not real amateurs », said skipper Benoit Champanhac. « They are very good, well supported, with coach, performance analysis…I think we will see them on other top boats and sailing events in the next 5 or 10 years. Seing them in first and second positions is logical and to be honnest I would be worried for them is they were not because they’ve been sailing since at top level since they are kids and they are the future of french sailing, whereas our crew all have full-time jobs and only sail on week-ends and holidays ».  

Tour de France à la Voile will be back next year on Diam 24 trimarans for another tour along France coastline. And for now some of the teams will wrap up the sailing season with other Diam 24 events like the Grand Prix de Port la Forêt in August. 

2016 TDFV ends in a spray of Limonade

July 30th 2016

2016 Tour de France à la Voile ended today in Nice with a last day of stadium racing. The 24 teams were divided in three groups based on last night overall rankings to sail three Finals : Gold, Silver, and Bronze. In light wind conditions, the 18 boats of group Silver and Bronze sailed two races, countring double points for final ranking. Then at 3.30pm, the six top Diam24 sailed on single Gold Final.

Tour de France Voile 2016, Nice le 30 Juillet 2016.Journée de finales
Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO
Tour de France Voile 2016, Nice le 30 Juillet 2016.Journée de finales Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO - Jean Marie Liot / ASO

Despite being the 2016 TDFV champion since last Act in Hères, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan wanted to score another victory under their belt, like they did yesterday on the coastal course set in the Bay of Angels. But today, the light and shifty winds reshuffled the cards. Installux, Lorina Limonade and Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne, who started the race really well, were leading the six boat fleet on the first beat. But on the last run down the finish, Team Coved chose the other side of the course and crossed the line first. 

 

« How great is that ! Finishing the Tour with a victory ! We are so happy ! Being fourth overall was already a good result for us, well above our objectives this year. On the last run, we decided to keep going on the right hand side while everyone gybed. We wanted to limit the amount of manœuvres, which could cost a lot in light winds. I wanted to come back on the Tour to keep learning with Olivier (Backes) and Laurent (Voiron), and I have learnt so much. It’s been to priviledged to sail with these two super coaches », said freeride ski world champion and skipper of Team Coved Aurélien Ducroz 

Today’s result doesn’t change anything for Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan who already won the event mathematically in Hyères. Matthieu Salomon and Quentin Delapierre finish the Tour today with an impressive 64 point margin over their closest rival Grandeur Nature Vérandas who overtook Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne to take second place overall. « This Tour is a success for us because being on the podium was our objective », said skipper Jean-Christophe Mourniac. « But this Gold final will remain unforgettable. It went exactly the way we wanted and we could not have done better if we had to write the scenario. Lorina Limonade smashed this event. These young guys are very talented. They did everything they needed to win this race. They were super trained, their boat was very well prepared. And they were almost untouchable since the beginning. Massive congratulation to them. They have a bright future in front of them ». 

This Gold Final brought huge disappointment for Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne, as crew Fred Guilmin explained : « No one likes losing, specially when it’s just a stroke of bad luck. We took a good start and we went on the same side of Grandeur Nature to control them, but then on the beat, we had less wind and we had to tack to avoid ending in the swimming area, while they came with more wind and kept going along the limitation line, on the right hand side, where we wanted to go. It was so frustrating for us. Of course we are very disappointed because in Dunkirk we were aiming for overall victory. Then looking at Lorina Limonade’s results, we knew it would be hard and second place became our new objective. And today we are third… » 

International crew of Oman Airports by Oman Sail reached their objective of finishing in top 5. Co-skipper Thierry Douillard, who won the Tour last year with Spindrift, say this objective was realistic considering their campaign and his injury that impeded their crew set-up : « For sure this Tour ended up being a bit complicated for us since I hurt my back in Dieppe and could not sail for the rest of the event. But in the end, we finish 5th, which is good. Oman Aiports objective was not to win. Our campaign includes training two young Omani sailors. And Ali and Abdul have been fantastic. They are really good crew on the water, and great team mates on land. They’ve learnt a lot about the Tour concept, which is unique and difficult, as you have to string together a lot of races during three weeks ! » 

Team France Jeune snatched victory on Young and Amateur rankings, and finished 8th overall, after a perfect Act in Nice : « We are very happy with our performance in the last two days because arriving in Nice yesterday for last Act we were 16 points behind so it was not done deal, we had to fight really hard for it. Yesterday we sailed a really nice coastal race and finished second, and today we fare finishing second again. And when Lorina Mojito got black flagged in second race, they lost a lot of points. That helped. But the most important is that we have learnt a lot during the Tour. It’s been a great experience. » 

 

2016 TDFV ends with a spray of Limonade

July 30th 2016

. Team Coved wraps up TDFV with a victory in Nice Gold final

. 2016 champion Lorina Limonade takes second place

. Grandeur Nature Vérandas sneaked in front of Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne to take second overall

. Oman Airports by Oman Sail in top 5

. Team France Jeune snatched overall victory in Young and Amateur rankings

Last day of stadium racing to decide podium

July 30th 2016

This Saturday for the last stadium racing day of 2016 TDFV, the Diam 24 fleet will be divided in three groups, depending on their position on overal leaderboard.

Tour de France Voile 2016, Nice le 29 Juillet 2016.Raid cotier.
Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO
Tour de France Voile 2016, Nice le 29 Juillet 2016.Raid cotier. Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO - Jean Marie Liot / ASO

Winds are light this morning in the bay of angels and competitors expect a southerly 10 knot seabreeze to sail a series of inshore races (maximum 6 for Bronze and Silvers groups) to start at 11.30am and just one single race for Gold group at 3.30pm.

 

Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne and Grandeur Nature Vérandas are sure to be on the podium, as 4th place Team Coved stands 24 points behind. But who from Nicolas Troussel or Jean-Christophe Mourniac will take second place ?

 

How does it work today on the race course ?

 

Bronze : the last nine boats : 24 - Columbus Café – IDTGV ; 23 – Marie et ses frères ; 22 – Helvetia Purple by Normandy Elite Team ; 21 – Be.Brussels ; 20 – Dunkerque Voile ; 19 – Fondation FDJ – Des pieds et des mains ; 18 – Techneau ; 17 – EMCC by Normandy Elite Team.

Silver : the next nine boats : 16 – Pays de l’Or – Hérault ; 15 – Réel PGO – Réseau Entreprendre ; 14 – Helvetia Blue by Normandy Elite Team ; 13 – Cheminées Poujoulat ; 12 – Dynamique Homkia ; 11 Natixis – Défi YC Saint-Lunaire ; 10 – Cardinal-FenêtréA ; 9 – Team France Jeune ; 8 – Trésors de Tahiti ; 7 – Team Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan.

These two groups will sail as many races as possible (maximum of six) and all results will count double points. First start at 11.30am

Gold : the six first boats:  6 – Installux Aluminium ; 5 – Oman Airports by Oman Sail ; 4 – Team Coved ; 3 – Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne ; 2 – Grandeur Nature Véranda ; 1 – Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan.

Only one race at 3.30pm, scoring double points.

 

Don’t miss the action !

First podium for Oman Airports by Omansail, in Nice

July 29th 2016

The fleet arrived in Nice for final Act and this morning, TDFV sailors and organisation members payed tribute to terror attack victims at Albert 1er garden Memorial. « It is a bit odd for the Tour de France à la Voile to come to Nice. Local authorities have claimed their will to maintain the finish of the event here, only for the sporting aspect, and removing all festive aspects. Life goes on for everyone, day after day, and we are going forward with dignity and sobriety. Nice and Amaury Sport Organisation have always had a strong bond and it is even stronger today. Like every french people, like all human beings, we are very affected by this drama », said Tour de France à la Voile Director, Jean-Baptiste Durier.  


Tour de France Voile 2016, Nice le 29 Juillet 2016.Raid cotier.
Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO
Tour de France Voile 2016, Nice le 29 Juillet 2016.Raid cotier. Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO - Jean Marie Liot / ASO

« I would like to thank Amaury Sport Organisation for their understanding when we chose to maintain the sporting aspect of the event, first one to be held since Bastille Day attackThrough the Tour de France à la Voile we are showing that life has to go on. We are very affected but we have to keep our head up and keep going. Although it is difficult to just smile and enjoy life, Tour de France à la Voile offers a bit of an escape », said deputy major of Nice José Cobos.   

Today the Diam 24 sailed their last coastal race of the event. A 30 mile course in the Bay of Angels that saw another victory from already 2016 champion, Team Lorina Limonade, their 10th victory out of 16 days of racing. « We are happy to keep sailing with the same level of demand, although we’ve already won the Tour », said co-skipper Quentin Delapierre. 

After their nightmare day yesterday with two collisions, Trésors de Tahiti wanted to bounce back, and they did well today, sailing a perfect race in the bay of Angels. « It’s so much better than yesterday », said skipper Teva Plichart. « There is usually not much wind here, but today was nice. But we are hugely disappointed to not be able to qualify for tomorrow Gold final, as we know it’s due to yesterday’s bad performance in Hyères where we lost so many points. Overall, we are happy with our Tour. We know we will be back next year as it is a three year project and we know what we can improve on the water ».  

Finishing third today, Oman Airports wins its first podium since the beginning of the Tour and qualifies for tomorrow’s Gold final. « Our objective today was not to win but to control our rivals and to finish in the top 5 or 6 to be in the Gold final. Mathematically, a few teams could qualify so we had to work really hard on the water. It was not easy but the good thing is that Stevie and I have the experience of high level competition so we know how to cope when pressure is on. We are very happy with this third place. We had fun on the water today. Now we are ready for a second Tour right now ! » 

How does it work tomorrow ?  

There will be three groups based on last overall rankings 

Bronze : the last nine boats : 24 - Columbus Café – IDTGV ; 23 – Marie et ses frères ; 22 – Helvetia Purple by Normandy Elite Team ; 21 – Be.Brussels ; 20 – Dunkerque Voile ; 19 – Fondation FDJ – Des pieds et des mains ; 18 – Techneau ; 17 – EMCC by Normandy Elite Team.  
 
Silver : the next nine boats : 16 – Pays de l’Or – Hérault ; 15 – Réel PGO – Réseau Entreprendre ; 14 – Helvetia Blue by Normandy Elite Team ; 13 – Cheminées Poujoulat ; 12 – Dynamique Homkia ; 11 Natixis – Défi YC Saint-Lunaire ; 10 – Cardinal-FenêtréA ; 9 – Team France Jeune ; 8 – Trésors de Tahiti ; 7 – Team Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan.  
 

These two groups will sail as many races as possible and all results will count double points. 
 
Gold : the six first boats:  6 – Installux Aluminium ; 5 – Oman Airports by Oman Sail ; 4 – Team Coved ; 3 – Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne ; 2 – Grandeur Nature Véranda ; 1 – Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan.  
 
Only one race at 3.30pm, scoring double points. 

TDFV pays tribute to Nice attack victims

July 29th 2016

This morning, TDFV sailors and organisation members payed tribute to terror attack victims at Albert 1er garden Memorial.

Tour de France Voile 2016, Nice le 29 Juillet 2016. Cérémonie d'hommage aux victimes de l'attentat du 14 juillet dernier.
Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO
Tour de France Voile 2016, Nice le 29 Juillet 2016. Cérémonie d'hommage aux victimes de l'attentat du 14 juillet dernier. Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO - Jean Marie Liot / ASO

Jean-Baptiste Durier,  Tour de France à la Voile Director :
« It is a bit odd for the Tour de France à la Voile to come to Nice. Local authorities have claimed their will to maintain the finish of the event here, only for the sporting aspect, and removing all festive aspects. Life goes on for everyone, day after day, and we are going forward with dignity and sobriety. Nice and Amaury Sport Organisation have always had a strong bond and it is even stronger today. Like every french people, like all human beings, we are very affected by this drama ».


José Cobos, Nice deputy major :
« I would like to thank Amaury Sport Organisation for their understanding when we chose to maintain the sporting aspect of the event, first one to be held since Bastille Day attack.  Through the Tour de France à la Voile we are showing that life has to go on. We are very affected but we have to keep our head up and keep going. Although it is difficult to just smile and enjoy life, Tour de France à la Voile offers a bit of an escape ».

 

Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Grandeur Nature Véranda skipper :
« We are very affected for sure. The atmosphere here is oppressive and our hearts are torn apart, like they were after Paris attack. We are here because life must go on and because we carry sporting values that are key in times like this. Some people walk on La Promenade, some run, some laugh… this is the way it is. Life goes on ».

 

Nicolas Troussel, Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne skipper :
« We are racing but we don’t forget the victims and their families. They are in our hearts and we are thinking of them ».

Lorina Limonade Golfe du Morbihan wins 2016 Tour de France à la Voile

July 28th 2016

With last Act in Nice still to come this week-end, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan wins 2016 Tour de France à la Voile today in second day of Act 8 in Hyères. With 56 point lead, Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon are mathematically out of reach, no matter what happens in the next two days of racing in Nice. « We are so happy. We tried to give the best of ourselves and we wanted to win this day of racing so we could win the Tour on a high note. The day didn’t start well for us but we managed to get back in the game and win all following races. We are very proud of our team »

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Hyères, le 28 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Morgan BOVE / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Hyères, le 28 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Morgan BOVE / ASO - Morgan Bove / ASO

« Last year I was with Groupama and we lost the Tour on the last day so I came back to win it this yeat. I think the strength of our team is our youth, our energy and a strong bond between us as we are all good friends. We’ve all been sailing together for years », said crew member Quentin Ponroy.

Team Lorina Limonade Golfe du Morbihan is also a family story, with Kevin Peponnet’s uncle Thierry Peponnet, and Bruno Mourniac’s dad Philippe Mourniac having both won Tour de France à la Voile before. « Our domination is visible in terms of points but on the water we had to work really hard to get this victory. We were consistent and we won a lot of races because we never gave up. We were sailing flat-out all the time. It’s fantastic to win the title here in Hyères and go to Nice just to enjoy it », said Bruno Mourniac

For podium second and third place, competition is much tighter. After today’s stadium racing, Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne takes second place back from Grandeur Nature Vérandas, but the two teams are just two points apart on the leaderboard. « We had a tough time at the beginning of the Med stages but winning Act 8 in Hyères brings our confidence back. We had a big debrief in the last few days and we keep working hard to get better and better. The good thing about our team is that we’ve always had a strong bond between the shore team and the sailing team. We are now more relaxed going to last Act in Nice. We just want to finish this Tour the best way possible ».

On Young and Amateurs rankings anything can happen too, and although Team Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan is getting stronger and stronger after each Act, Team France Jeune is only thirteen points behind. « We will have to confirm tomorrow, but if we can finish tomorrow coastal race in the top six, we will be very stoked », said skipper Solune Robert. « We are happy with the way we sail but we know we have to be a bit conservative at the starts in stadium racing because we could get black flagged like in Marseille. Good thing about tomorrow’s coastal race in Nice is that we have Gautier Germain onboard who comes from Nice. He will be sailing at home. We’ll do our best to sail a nice raid and be more relaxed on the last day ».

International Team Oman Airports won their second qualification in stadium racing grand final after a series of nice results (1-2-4-3). Co-skipper Stevie Morrison still aims for top 5. « We had good starts in qualifying races and that makes life easier, but the last race was all about the start because the standard is higher, and we didn’t have a good start in the grand final. We need to be a bit more aggressive. It’s good to be conservative in the earlier races because you want to avoid black flag. For us the whole of this tour has been a huge challenge on communication and roles and working as a team. We had a nit of bad luck with Thierry being injured because he’s one of the great sailors in the Tour and in all boats, so to not have him sailing is a massive loss. But equally we have very good sailors in the team and a good team can win even when the best player is injured. But for some reason we’ve struggled with that a little bit. We had a serious discussion about things yesterday, trying to make sure everyone was doing a role and today it was a much calmer boat, so if we can keep that same mentality tomorrow then we will have a good race ».

Act 8 day 2

July 28th 2016

Stadium racing in Hyères

This Thursday will be the second last day of stadium racing before the event finishes in Nice. Weather conditions are similar to yesterday with sunshine, hot temperatures (32°C) and light sea breeze building up throughout the day to reach 15 knots this afternoon.

The Diam 24 fleet will sail a series of maximum six qualifying races and a grand final for the best six teams.

If Team Lorina Limonade qualifies for the grand final as they did on every single stadium racing day so far, they will be garantee to win the 2016 TDFV, and as their worse two results have been a 6th since the beginning of the event in Dukirk on July 8th, there is no doubt today will take them to champion title. 

For the next few teams, the game is wide open, with only two points separating second and third Grandeur Nature Vérandas and Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne.

 

Oman Airports by Oman Sail lost one place on the leaderboard yesterday but top 5 is still in reach for Omani team. Abdulhaman Al Mashari : « We are only four points from 5th Trésors de Tahiti, who didn’t have a good result yesterday in the coastal race, so we could still reach our objective. Today is going to be a very hot day but it’s just normal for Ali and myself coming from Oman ! I won’t be sailing today but I will be watching from the beach. Pierre (Leboucher) and Stevie (Morrison) know this race course well as they both sailed here a few times for the Hyères olympic week, Pierre in 470 and Stevie in 49er, so hopefully this will be good for us. »

First qualifying race to start at 11.45 local time.

Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne back in the game

July 27th 2016

Crédit Mutuel won Act 8 coastal race in Hyère

After a tough few days in the Med as they arrived from their home land of Brittany, Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne snatched a clear victory today in the bay of Hyères, and although today’s result doesn’t change the leaderboard, it gives the team a much welcome gain of confidence, as Damien Iehl explained after racing : « we are so happy. This is exactly what we needed. The race was long and difficult but in the end, the wind built up and it was so nice being in the lead. All around the course Fred and Mathieu managed to chose the right tacks, and we crossed ahead at the second last mark. Grandeur Nature also sailed very well today so we are only gain one point on them, but this victory is great for our team ». 

Tour de France Voile 2016, Hyeres le 27 Juillet 2016
Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO
Tour de France Voile 2016, Hyeres le 27 Juillet 2016 Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO - Jean Marie Liot / ASO

« What a fantastic race », said Grandeur Nature Vérandas skipper Jean-Christophe Mourniac at the finish. « Despite our individual recall, we had a good boatspeed and managed to climb the fleet all the way up with a great battle against Crédit Mutuel. They had a bit more luck at the mark in front of Brégançon when they passed us. They are gaining one point, but we are confident ».  

With a 4th place today, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan remains the solid leader with 54 point margin. With only three racing days left, all they have to do to secure overall title is to sail wisely, as Kévin Péponnet explained : « We just want to avoid breaking something. It would be stupid to lose 24 points in just one race. We have less pressure than we had in the Atlantic, so now it’s just pure pleasure. We have to time to enjoy the Med breathtaking coastline » 

 Oman Airports by OmanSail co skippers Thierry Douillard and Stevie Morrison are back with the Omani squad today but Thierry’s injury prevents him from sailing for now, so today it was Stevie Morrison, Pierre Leboucher and Abdul Al Mashari onboard. Omani crew admitted being disappointed with their 10th position today but is enjoying his first Tour experience : « We were aiming for the top 5 and we are so sailing 100% because of the crew configuration with Thierry being on land, so it’s a bit frustrating. But we always try to keep our spirits high. It’s the most important. It’s not Oman first TDFV, but it is the first time on a Diam 24, so we are still learning ». 

 Tour de France à la Voile Director Jean-Baptiste Durier has announced this morning that the event will finish in Nice as originally planned, but considering recent Bastille Day tragic attack, race organisation has decided to remove all festive and popular aspect, to only maintain the sporting aspect of the event. « Our deepest thoughts go to the victims and their families and friends. This last Act in nice will pay tribute to them and be set with sobriety and dignity » 


Act 8, Day 1

July 27th 2016

Coastal race in the bay of Hyères

Tour de France à la Voile is coming to an end. With just two more Acts to go, pressure is on and competitors have their last chances to score some precious points on the leaderboard. After a day break, they have arrived in Hyères so sail a coastal race in the Bay of Hyères between Brégançon Fort and Porquerolles Island.

Southerly inds are currently blowing 10 knots and are expected to build up to 15 knots+ and shift west throughout the day.

 Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Grandeur Nature Vérandas skipper : « I know this race course very well as I am orginially from Sainte-Maxime. I’ve been living in Brittany for 20 years, but I have done a lot of Optimist training here, and also all the olympic weeks in Hyères during my olympic carreer on Tornado ».

 Oman Airports by Oman Sail co skippers Thierry Douillard and Stevie Morrison are back with the Omani squad but only Stevie will sail today (with Pierre Leboucher and Ali Al Balushi) as Thierry is still forced to stay onland due to his injury. « I am happy to be here to help the guys on land. At least. They have done pretty well without Stevie and myself so I am confident that it will work well for us today ».

 

Team France Jeune Thibaut Julien and Erwan Fischer have also sailed here during their olympic training in 49er, and their knowledge of the race course could be an advantage as they are currently second on the Young and Amateur rankings and just one point from leader Team Lorina Mojito. 

Tour de France à la Voile Director Jean-Baptiste Durier has announce this morning that the event will finish in Nice as originally planned, but considering recent Bastille Day tragic attack, race organisation has decided to remove all festive and popular aspect, to only maintain the sporting aspect of the event. « Our deepest thoughts go to the victims and their families and friends. This last Act in nice will pay tribute to them and be set with sobriety and dignity ».

Last days in the Med

July 26th 2016

After four Acts on the Atlantic and three in the Med, the 2016 Tour de France à la Voile is coming to an end, and while event title is likely to go to Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan, competition is fierce for podium second and third place and for the Young and Amateur title.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Marseille, le 25 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Marseille, le 25 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

With their 55 point lead Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon are in a good position to take their team to victory in the 2016 Tour de France à la Voile. But who will complete the podium ?

Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne and Grandeur Nature Vérandas are only 2 points apart on the leaderboard and in 4th position, Team Coved is only eight points behind and Aurélien Ducroz and his crew are in top form after scoring a 3rd yesterday in Act 7 stading racing. 

The eight racing days in the Atlantic had seen only two different winners, whereas four teams have snatched victory since Roses in just five racing days. All 24 teams are progressing and more of them can pretend for a top performance. Like Pays de l’Or Hérault who qualified for stadium racing grand final yesterday in Marseille whilst being in 17th position on overall rankings.

Top 5 is also very open, with only 20 points separating 5th Trésors de Tahiti from 10th Natixis – Défi Yacht-Club de Saint-Lunaire

Currently in 6th, international team Oman Airports by OmanSail has been performing well in the last two days despite missing their two skippers Thierry Douillard, who hurt his back, and Stevie Morrison, who was in Portsmouth for doing America’s Cup World Series commentary. French 470 sailor Pierre Leboucher took the helm and managed to keep his team just seven points from the Top 5. « We sailed well today but we can see we are still missing some training days. Considering we had a new crew, Gurvan Bontemps, onboard since Gruissan. We did pretty well. We speak a mix of french and english so that Omani crew Ali can understand. I was so happy to take the helm. We had a good boat speed. Thierry and Stevie will be back in Hyères but I am not sure Thierry will sail yet ».

On the Young and Amateur Rankings, the top 3 is tighter than ever, with only 5 points between current leader Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan and 3rd Natixis – YCSL. Team France Jeune excels in stadium racing format but still makes some costly mistakes in coastal racing, while young crew Lorina Mojito can offer the best and the average, with last few results as diverse as 14-3-3-12.

Today the Tour sailors have a last day off to rest before Act 8 in Hyères starts on Wednesday with a coastal race.



First victory

July 25th 2016

Mathieu Souben and his crew win stadium racing in Marseille

It was another hot day and light winds on the water today in Marseille, but Act 7 stadium racing saw a different winner. A new winner. Cardinal FenêtréA, skippered by Erwan Le Roux and Mathieu Souben, snatched their first victory so far in the Tour.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Marseille, le 25 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Marseille, le 25 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

« It was so tricky today, very hard to read the race course. But it was Julien Villion’s birthday so it was nice to get him champagne for afternoon tea ! » said Mathieu Souben after racing.« We are getting stronger and stronger. In the qualifying races we got 5th, 4th, 3rd and 1rd and then we won the grand final. I think we found the key to success. We were second at the first mark and then we took advantage to Team Coved making a mistake, and sneak in the lead ». Talking about their performance so far in the Tour, Mathieu Souben admitted : « we needed  more time to find our feet as we didn’t know we would do the event about a month before the start. We’ve had a giid learning curve and we don’t have pressure for results ».

 

In a north-westerly breeze not exceeding 10 knots, the race committee managed to lay four qualifying races before the best six teams accessed to the grand final at 3.45pm. It was in fact seven teams, as Pays de l’Or Hérault and Team France Jeune finished on equal points. But in the grand final, the young Team France Jeune sailed a great race and scored a second place.

 

« Race committee had to move the course a few times due to wind shifts. It must have been hard for them », said Robin Follin from Team France Jeune. « The game today was to be the most consistent and we started with three great results (1-3-1), but nearly lost the grand final on the last qualifying race. This is our third podium in stadium racing format, but we struggle a bit more in coastal racing because we are not used to it. We’ve lost about thirty points so far in this format due to navigation mistakes. We definitely have to work harder on it ».

 

Young and Amateur ranking is getting tighter tonight with only 5 points separating first boat Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan to third Natixis-Yacht Club de Saint-Lunaire. While overall, event leader Lorina Limonade extends its lead despite a 6th place in today’s inshore grand final, their second worst result so far.

The TDFV competitors will now have a last day-off tomorrow as the event moves to Hyères for Act 8, to start on Wednesday with a coastal race.

Act 7, day 2

July 25th 2016

Marseille, stadium racing

Today racing will start at 11.40 in front of the Roucas Blanc in Marseille. The fleet will sail a series of six qualifying racing for a grand final at 3.45pm

Weather forecast

It will be a hot day in Marseille. Great blue sky, sunshine, with temperatures reaching 29° in the shade. Light north-westerly breeze will blow 8 to 12 knots, shifting west throughout the afternoon and building up to 10-14 knots.

While Lorina Limonade is now a solid event lead with a 53 point margin over the rest of the fleet, the podium is still very open for 2nd and 3rd place with Grandeur Nature Vérandas and Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne being only 3 points apart.

Lorina Limonade sparkles in Marseille

July 24th 2016

25 miles along Marseille outstanding coastline

Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan seems to be unbeatable in this 2016 Tour de France à la Voile. Quentin Delapierre, Bruno Mourniac and Kevin Peponnet sailed a perfect coastal race today in Marseille, making absolutely no mistake around the tricky mediterranean course. They are now leading the event with a 53 point margin.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Marseille, le 24 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Marseille, le 24 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

Quentin Ponroy watched his team from the land : « Yes it’s true, we have a really good boat speed. We quickly caught up the leading pack, apart from Natixis who managed to stay in front of us for a long time. It was a great battle against them. Then they made a mistake and we took the lead and sailed away from the chasing pack. The good thing about it is we had time to watch the landscape. What an amazing race course here ! »

 

After their new podium today Grandeur Nature Véranda takes 2nd place overall in front of Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne. In a light westerly breeze, Skipper Jean-Christophe Mourniac did not take a good start but thanks to good tactics and boatspeed, he passed the whole fleet to cross the line in second position after an breathtaking moment just 200 meters from the finish. « We were in third and the wind dropped suddenly. Mojito fell in that lull, and we came from behing with just a bit more fresh air. The most difficult in those moments is to be able to feel where the wind comes from and trim the sails accordingly. It will be difficult to catch up Lorina Limonade. Look at their speed today ! Now we just have to keep an eye on those behind us »

 

Green Diam 24 Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan finishes third and comforts their leadership on the Young and Amateur Rankings. Solune Robert and his crew are climbing on the podium for the fourth time so far in the Tour. « It was frustrating to see Grandeur Nature passing us as it’s not the first time we are missing 2nd place. But we are happy with this podium. It could have been worse considering the lack of wind on the finish line. We are confident with the way we sail. Achille did a great job calling the tactics, while Gautier and I managed to get a good boat speed. We can be proud of ourselves. Of course we would love to snatch a victory. It will be difficult on a coastal race because our mates from Limonade are very fast, but I believe we can do it in stadium racing format », said co-skipper Solune Robert.

Act 7, day 1

July 24th 2016

Marseille coastal race

After racing was cancelled yesterday due to strong winds in Gruissan, the Tour has moved to Marseille for Act 7.

Winds will be lighter today and the fleet will enjoy some nice champagne sailing along Marseille beautiful coastline. The 38 mile course takes the Diamn 24 towards Jarre Island and around Frioul islands.

Westerly winds are expected to build up throughout the day to reach 10-15 knots in the afternoon with the sea breeze.

Local sailors Dimitri Deruelle (Trésors de Tahiti) and Olivier Backes (Team Coved), will be in competition on the water, as their teams are just one point appart, respectively 5th and 4th on the leaderboard.

« It’s a wonderful race course and today will be a beautiful day with sunshine, 30 degrees and nice westerly breeze. We struggled to perform at the beginning of the Tour because we did not have enough training together, but since Baden, we are collecting good results and we are really enjoying sailing together », said Dimitri Deruelle, who will be with Pierre Pennec and Teva Plichart onboard Trésors de Tahiti.

« It should be a good battle with Dimitri on Tahiti. I am very happy to sail here again, as we could not do this raid last year with Aurélien. Unfortunately Aurélien hurt his knee yesterday so he won’t be onboard with us today. We will have Eric Perron. We are very satisfied with our results so far. It’s better than what we expected. We are one of the only crew that doesn’t change during the tour and has not changed since last year. This is a strength as we only had about 10 days training before the Tour. It was important to keep the same crew », said Olivier Backes.

Stadium racing canceled due to strong winds

July 23rd 2016

25-30 kts + winds in Gruissan, committee canceled racing

Today was a perfect day for kitesurfing or windsurfing… But racing a Diam 24 in 30 knots of wind could lead to carnage. At 9am this morning, race committee recorded 32knots on the race course and decided to keep the fleet ashore for a few hours. And at 1pm winds were still too strong for sailing.

« A 20 knot Tramontane, would have been so nice », regrets Trésors de Tahiti helmsman Pierre Pennec. « Sailing in the Gulf of Lion with a northerly breeze can be a real pleasure. But here it’s definitely too strong. It would even be dangerous to go out sailing ».

 

« We were hoping for the wind to be slightly lighter so we could have done a few races », explained race director Christophe Gaumont. « We don’t do our job to cancel races, but we have to be wise. It’s a matter of safety and sporting fairness. Starting a race with crew who are just doing survival sailing to keep their boat upright doesn’t make sense ».

 

The fleet is now moving to Marseille for Act 7. Tomorrow the 24 boats will sail a 32 mile coastal race from Frioul islands to Jarre island and back.

 

Oman Airports Stevie Morrison being in Portsmouth for the America’s Cup World Series this week-end, and his french co-skipper Thierry Douillard being injured, it will be Pierre Leboucher at the helm tomorrow and Gurvan Bontemps calling the tactics. « I sailed in Fécamp last year with Aurélien Ducroz onboard La France du Nord au Sud, replacing Olivier Backes, and I am very happy to come back and sail in Marseille with Oman Airports. I would have liked to have a Diam 24 campaign for the Tour but my year was already very busy as I sail on the D35, GC32, and Flying Phantom circuits. I really like the TDFV and its new format, and it’s exciting for us to sail with other top level sailors ». 

Act 6 Day 2 : Strong winds in Gruissan… AP flag up

July 23rd 2016

At the skippers briefing this morning, race comittee has decided to raise the Answering Pennant flag due to a strong Tramontane (local north-westerly wind). Racing is postponned until at least 1pm as weather forecast indicates 25 to 30 knots on the race course.

The TDFV fleet had six inshore qualifying races planned for today with a grand final at 3.45pm.

More news to follow…

Team Lorina Limonade closer and closer from the TDFV title

July 22nd 2016

Event leader Lorina Limonade wins Act 6 coastal race

Tour de France à la Voile is back to France after three days in Spain and Act 6 started today with a coastal race in Gruissan. Young tandem Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon were eager to confirm their leadership, and they did it again, with an amazing victory on the 40 mile raid along the coastline of Roussillon. « The course was set in a way to avoid going offshore because of strong wind conditions », explains Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan co-skipper Quentin Delapierre. « So in that case, it is an upwind downwind turn and you have to take the lead quite quickly to have the fresh air. That’s what we did, leading the fleet at the first mark. We crossed the finish line with about six minutes lead, but in reality five boats could have won today ».

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Gruissan, le 22 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Gruissan, le 22 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

And in second position on the finish line is Trésors de Tahiti again. After their victory yesterday in Gruissan, Med specialist Dimitri Deruelle stepped onboard with Pierre Pennec and Teva Plichart, and called perfect tactics around the course. « It’s fantastic for The Tahiti project », said Pierre Pennec after racing. « It was so peaceful and quiet onboard. Other crew can be stressed when it comes to make decision about wind force and direction and when to tack or not. But we even had a laugh at some stage. I think we are relaxed because we don’t have any pressure for results. Last year I was with Groupama and we got stuck in a lull while the others escaped ahead, so it’s nice to turn it around this year ! »

 

With Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne failing in scoring a top result today, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan increase their lead to 48 points over Nicolas Troussel and his crew and Grandeur Nature Véranda are now pushing 4 points behind in third place. But tonight sees a new leader in the Young and Amateur Rankings, with another Lorina, Mojito skippered by Riwan Perron et Solune Robert. The young crew finished third and with their main rival Team France Jeune finishing 21st, they are now moving up to top their leaderboard. « It is so satisfying for us as it was a very tricky race. Achille did a great job calling the tactics. He is from Montpellier so he knows all the tricks about the local wind Tramontana. We did everything we wanted and we had a great boat speed. We are still far from the overall leaders, but it’s nice to top the young and amateur rankings ».

 

Oman Airports had their best result since Dunkirk today. Omani team finished 4th and seems to improve day after day. But tomorrow for the inshore races, Stevie Morrison will step off to go and do the commentary for the Cup in England. He will be replaced by another skipper.

Trésors de Tahiti snatches victory in Roses

July 21st 2016

First win for Teva Plichart and his team onboard Trésors de Tahiti

They had a fantastic Act 4 in Baden, finishing second on both racing days. But they never won a race… until today’s stadium racing Grand Final. Teva Plichart, Pierre Pennec and Manutea Mahai are the team who had one of the best progression since Dunkirk. « We are very proud » said skipper Teva Plichart. « We qualified in extremis for the grand final and then everything worked in our favour. We are so happy. Beating the best teams when one of our crew, Manutea, is still learning to sail is amazing. I think we have less pressure on so we feel more comfortable on the race course. We managed to find a few trims that we did not have before ».

While new winners appear every day, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan continue to sail with consistency and despite finishing 6th yesterday and 3rd today, they are increasing their lead overall, thanks to Nicolas Troussel average performance. Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne failed in qualifying for inshore Grand Final and their 12th place today offers Limonade precious points towards champion title. « We are very disappointed. We made two big mistakes that we now have to forget quickly, before the race is not over yet », said Nicolas Troussel briefly after racing.

 

« It was a great fight until the end. We are happy with the way we sail and finshing 3rd is a good result. We know we won’t win every single Act », said Matthieu Salomon, Lorina Limonade co-skipper.

 

After retiring from the coastal race yesterday for missing a mark, Team France Jeune succeeded in bouncing back beautifuly scoring a 2nd position in today’s Grand Final. « It’s perfect for our self-confidence. We know we are stronger in stadium racing format. Now we just have to be careful on coastal races because we can lose many points and there are four left », admitted co-skipper Erwan Fischer.

 

Team Oman Airports seems to slowly find their marks without Thierry Douillard, who has not stepped onboard since Dieppe due to injury. Today British Stevie Morrison, French Pierre Leboucher, and Omani Abdulhaman Al Mashari qualified for the grand final, where they finished in 5th position. « We didn’t start the day very well », said Pierre Leboucher, « but we managed to come back in the game, with a win, a second and a third. The wind built up during the day and we were happy with that because it’s more straight forward and we have more time to discuss our choices. It’s more strategical, than tactical. Now we have to stay forcused because we wll be driving to Gruissan tonight for the next Act tomorrow, with another coastal race. I will prepare the navigation in the car as we are driving there ».

Act 5, day 2

July 21st 2016

Roses inshore racing

Will the Mediterranean give a new deal in the TDFV ? After yesterday coastal race, rankings have not changed much, but it was a day of first times : first time Team Lorina Limonade didn’t finish in the top 3, first time a Young and Amateur team won a coastal race, first time Team France Jeune missed a mark and retired from the race…

Today might confirm this new deal. The fleet will sail a string of inshore qualifying races and a grand final at 3.45pm. For now, winds are supposed to be northerly and light (5knots) in the morning, shifting easterly and then south-easterly in the afternoon as the sea breeze set, to build up to 10-15 knots.

 

Looking at overall rankings, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan has only lost two points over main rival Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne and is still leading the event with a comfortable margin (24 points). But only eleven points separate 5th Oman Airports from 10th Natixis – YC Saint-Lunaire. And Young and Amateur Rankings are even tighter after ex leader Team France Jeune retired from the race yesterday. They are now 2nd, just one point behind Team Lorina Mojito, and 4 points in front Natixis. 

Helvetia Blue wins coastal race in Roses

July 20th 2016

First victory for young Normandy team Helvetia Blue

Second half of TDFV has started in the Mediterranean today with Act 5 coastal race in Roses and a young and amateur team scored a victory for the first time. Helvetia Blue by Normandy Elite Team, skippered by 22 years old Guillaume Pirouelle, sailed a perfect race, being in the top boats on the start line, and chosing the right option offshore to increase their lead over the rest of the fleet, to cross the finish line ahead

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Roses, le 20 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Roses, le 20 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

« We are so happy », said Pirouelle. « The race had a second start at the bottom mark on the other side of the bay. Then the wind dropped and we found a little gap to sneak in and sail away before the others. We come from dinghy racing and we are usually better in inshore races, so it is satisfying to perform on a coastal course.  We had a nice progression since Dunkirk, but our crew will be replaced by another crew from Gruissan to Nice. Tomorrow will be our last day of racing ».  

Grandeur Nature Verandas was the second boat on the finish line and skipper Jean-Christophe Mourniac would certainly feel relieved to start the Med with such result after their average performance in Baden. « We have found new dynamics onboard with Corentin Horeau stepping back onboard after two months convalescence following a knee injuryWe were twenty boats all together at the same mark on the other side of the Bay and the young crew from Normandy did really well going offshore. Congratulations to them ».  

Freeride ski champion Aurélien Ducroz tops another podium on Team Coved (second one since Dunkirk) and seems to be closer and closer from a race victory. But event leader Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan was not so happy with its performance today. They might finish at an honnorable 6th place, it is their worst result so far, as Matthieu Salomon and Quentin Delapierre only scores 1st and 2nd places all through the event. With Credit Mutuel de Bretagne finishing 4th today they only lose two points overall but mentally it could be a hard blow on them as they are entering second half of the event. 

International team Oman Airports by Oman Sail will be very pleased with their 5th place today, as it is their best result since Dunkirk and since Thierry Douillard stepped off due to injury. Yesterday British skipper Stevie Morrison was hoping to have strong wind conditions in the Med as « it requires less communication onboard » and it seems that today’s 15-20 knots winds was all thet needed to start performing again and build up confidence for the next few stages.  

Act 5 Day 1 : Roses coastal race

July 20th 2016

Welcome to the Med !

After a two day break, competition starts again on the Mediterranean Sea, in Roses, Spain, for Act 5.

Today all 24 boats will sail a coastal race in the Bay of Roses, with a start at 12.45. Southerly winds will reach up to 15-20 knots offering the teams perfect conditions for spectacular racing.

Installux Aluminium skipper Charles Hainneville is from Normandy but has sailed here last year : « It’s always a pleasure to come to the Mediterranean, and specially in Roses. The weather is always nice and warm here, and windy too. I am not familiar with the winds here. I know it can be tricky so it won’t be easy. It’s like a second start for the event here, as we are almost half way, with 4 Acts done and 5 more to come ».

Thomas Tiffon will sail in Roses for the first time. With his two borthers and his sister, he is competing in Young and Amateur Rankings. « It’s our first experience on the Tour and our dad is managing the project. We don’t have an objective in terms of results, as we are still learning, but we would like to come back next year and the year after, and to improve. For the Med, we have been coached by Dimitri Deruelle, who is from Marseille. We are learning a lot with him so it will be interesting to see if it shows in the results ».

Team Oman Airports reorganising without Thierry Douillard

July 19th 2016

T. Douillard won’t be able to join the team before at least Marseille

Oman Aiports co-skipper Thierry Douillard, who hurt his back during racing in Act 2 in Dieppe, is still recovering from his injury and won’t be able to join the team again before at least Marseille.

« His back is not good », said British skipper Stevie Morrison. « and the most important in the big picture is that he will be fine in one or two weeks. But our team has to adapt... Our objective is still to be close to the Top 5. And there is a lot of things we can improve upon ».

The main difficulty Oman Airports is facing is language and communication onboard the Diam 24, with a British skipper, a French and an Omani crew. In light wind conditions like they had in Roscoff and Baden, they have to talk to each other more to call the right tactics. « It was ‘comme-ci comme-ça’ »,said Stevie Morrison about Act 4 stadium racing in Baden. « It was very hard on the water, very gusty and shifty. We had two good races at the start and we had good positions in the other two but we had miscommunication between Pierre at the tactic and myself at the helm. When the wind is changing a lot like that, it’s tricky. It’s like driving a car with someone doing the pedals and someone else steering. We are frustrated. Very frustrated. It was not a bad result, but we are a bit handicaped by our language issues onboard but at the same time, it’s a challenge and that’s what we have ».

With Thierry Douillard being injured, Stevie Morrison had to sail every single day of racing so far, and admits being tired, but also looks at the pig picture.« Now I have two days to rest a little bit in Roses before racing starts again. The good thing is that everyone in the team is pretty positive. There is a lot of the events left and we have a lot of things to work on, which is good. There is a chance that having more consistent breeze in Roses will help us because there will be less communication needed, and more execution ».

Racing will start again tomorrow with a coastal race in the bay of Roses.

 

 

Four stages done, five more to go

July 18th 2016

A close look at the rankings as the fleet heads south

As the 24 teams hit the road towards next Tour venue in Spain (Roses), time has come to have a close look at the overall leaderboard.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Baden, le 17 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Baden, le 17 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

With three Act victories out of four, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan tops overal rankings with a comfortable 26 point margin over second Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne. Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon did not only scored very consistent results, they also took advantage of Nicolas Troussel lack of performance in Baden. And their confidence is now so strong moving to the second half of the event that they seem unbeatable. Technically, 26 points can be covered before the end of the Tour. But Lorina Limonade did not have a single bad result so far and never even got a black flag at a start of an inshore race, while other teams did. So they might not have won the 2016 Tour de France à la Voile yet, but they could not be on better path to reach their objective.

 

Next 9 places of the leaderboard are much more disputed, with only 44 points separating Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne in second position, from Natixis – Défi YC Saint-Lunaire in 10th. And some teams have progressed well since first Act in Dunkirk, like Trésors de Tahiti who has finished second in the last two racing days in Baden and is going to the next stages with Mediterranean specialist Dimitri Deruelle onboard for all coastal races. Tahiti is currently in 7th position overall and could be expected to finish in top 5 before the end of the event.

 

Team Coved is also another team in competition for top 5. Freeride ski champion Aurélien Ducroz has progressed well since last year and has had a set of consistent results since Dunkirk, his worst result being an 13th position in Baden coastal race. « We are very happy with our performance so far. Competition is fierce and the level is very high. We will have to fight hard until the end. Our first experience on the Tour last was very positive. We’ve learnt a lot and we are having much more fun this year ».

 

Young and Amateur teams are also in the game with three of them in the overall top 10, Natixis – Défi YC Saunt-Lunaire, Team Lorina Mojito, and Team France Jeune. Jules Bidegaray, from Team France Jeune, is also very confident going to the Mediterranean stages : « we are happy to lead the Young and Amateur rankings and happy to go and play on our home waters. A majority of us is from the Med, and I am from Hyères. This is my first tour on a Diam24, but I’ve sailed it twice before on an M34 with Toulon Provence Méditerranée. It will be nice to have a day break tomorrow though before the first half of the event has been intense physically and psychologically ».

Salomon-Delapierre Kings of the Gulf

July 17th 2016

Team Lorina Limonade wins day of stadium racing on home waters

As the TDV fleet is about to leave the west coast and head down south towards Roses and the Mediterranean, event leader Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan earned keeps building up its lead over rivals Credit Mutuel de Bretagne and Grandeur Nature Véranda.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Baden, le 17 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Baden, le 17 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

For last day of competition today in South Brittany, french co-skippers Matthieu Salomon and Quentin Delapierre recorded another top result winning today’s stadium racing super final in front of their public. « Conditions were so hard. There wasn’t much breeze and we had strong currents. Knowing the place was not an advantage, as it was too shifty anyway », said Bruno Mourniac. « Today was Quentin’s birthday so we had a but more pressure on and it’s great to finally offer him this victory at home. We celebrated a bit on the water after racing, but we won’t have a late party tonight because we have to hit the road early tomorrow morning».

 

The Lorina boys took advantage of Credit Mutuel bad results to increase their lead overall. Nicolas Troussel and his team are now 26 points behind and everyone wonder if they have lost the Tour here in Baden. But last year Groupama had a comfortable lead before the Mediterranean stages and Spindrift managed to clinch overall victory on the last day. « Of course it’s nice to have a good lead », admitted Bruno Mourniac. « But we still have five stages in the Med and we know everything can change there. So we have to stay focused ».

 

Polynesian team Trésors de Tahiti is the good surprise of this last stage on the Atlantic side. After finishing second yesterday in the coastal race, they managed to qualify for the grand final and to top another 2nd place finish. « It’s the first time we qualify for the grand final since the beginning of the Tour, so it’s a good performance », said helmsman Pierre Pennec. « It’s nice for everyone in the team because we are progressing well and that’s important. Manutea Mahai is still learning. He only sailed about 20 days on a racing multihull and he’s learning very fast ! It’s amazing to win an inshore race with him today ! »

Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan dominating TFV fleet

July 16th 2016

Salomon-Delapierre won Baden coastal race after an impressive comeback

What a day for Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan ! The young team skippered by Matthieu Salomon and Quentin Delapierre is at home here in Baden for Act 4 of 2016 Tour de France à la Voile. They have learned to sail in local ‘Cata School’, just a few boat lengths from where the race village has been set for two days. For today’s coastal race around the « île aux Moines » in the Gulf of Morbihan, they were of course the standout team. 

But when they crossed the start line in last position after a long postponement due to no wind, no one expected them to win this race. « It was incredible ! I think our strength was to stay focused and relaxed despite our bad start and our penalty just after the start. Quentin Ponroy had good tactics and read the course well. It was so tricky with fluky winds and strong currents, but we stayed calm and I really think this serenity took us to victory », said Salomon after racing 

 

Watching Lorina Limonade sneak in the lead just a few hundred meters from the finish line was tough for Jean-Christophe Mourniac and his crew onboard Grandeur Nature Véranda, who almost led the race from the start. « We lost two places just before the finish by looking behind us instead of doing our own race. We got stuck against the currents, while Lorina and Tahiti passed us. It was terribly frustrating. We are disappointed with our 3rd place, but we sailed a good race around the island », admitted Mourniac  

 

« It was so tricky today », said Trésors de Tahiti skipper Teva Plichart. « Winds were so light that we didn’t think we would be able to race. Dimitri Deruelle and Pierre Pennec spent the day avoiding all the course traps and all I had to do was to focus on our boatspeed. At some stage we went far to try and get some fresh air and it paid off. We climbed the whole fleet up to second position. We were even leading for a while. But then in the end Limonade passed us. They sail so well that we almost watched them beating us with admiration ».  

 

Have Lorina Limonade won the Tour on their home waters ? With five more stages to go it is too early to say so, but Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne’s 11th place today might help current leader to reach their objective before the end. « It’s such a bad day for us », said helmsman Damien Iehl. « We are now 17 points behind the leader overallWe took a penalty at one mark because we were behing Oman Airports who ran aground brutally. We were right behind and could not avoid them so we crashed into them. Luckily the boats were fine, but our penatly turn against the current was very costly » 

Act 4, Day 2 : Baden, Coastal Race

July 16th 2016

Welcome to the Gulf of Morbihan, South Brittany, for Act 4

Last stage on the west coast before moving south to the Mediterranean.

As the event moves down south, winds are getting lighter and lighter, and today for the 17 mile coastal race around ‘l’île aux Moines’, local sailors will be playing in their home waters.



Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon have learned to sail here at the Cata School. Since the Tour started in Dunkirk last week, they performed in strong breeze, winning all four first racing days, and despite lighter conditions today, they are expected to win here, as they know the Gulf by heart.

« We’ve sailed around the island so many times as it is a classic yacht race here every year on August 15th. But it doesn’t mean we will win it today », said Lorina Limonade co-skipper Quentin Delapierre this morning. « It’s tricky race course, with strong currents, rocks everywhere... » added his team mate Matthieu Salomon. « It will be a great competition with Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne and other teams who also have local sailors onboard and who are progressing since Dunkirk. That will push us to raise our game even more and we love it »

Racing will start at 12.45. Don’t miss the action live online !

Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne rises in Roscoff

July 15th 2016

Second win in a row for Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne

Troussel, Guilmin, Iehl and Richard have been crowned kings of Act 3 in Roscoff. After their victory in yesterday coastal race, they are confirming with another win in today’s inshore races to reduce Team Lorina Limonade’s lead overall.

Tour de France Voile 2016, Roscoff le 15 Juillet 2016, Stade nautique, Photo © Jean-Marie Liot / ASO
Tour de France Voile 2016, Roscoff le 15 Juillet 2016, Stade nautique, Photo © Jean-Marie Liot / ASO - Jean Marie Liot / ASO

« Today reminded us match-racing time. It was the same intensity. The same reactions. And since we had two match-racing specialists onboard with Damien Iehl and Mathieu Richard, we made the difference », said Credit Mutuel de Bretagne trimmer Fred Guilmin. « We are sailing on our home waters so it was nice to win again. Lorina Limonade Golfe du Morbihan started the Tour really well. Now it’s up to us to fight back. We are still six points behind them, so it will be a fierce fight ».

Light and fluky winds only gave the 24 boats the chance to sail four qualifying races before the grand final at 3.45pm. And these new conditions also changed the game on the race course, with new teams standing out. Like the young and amateur squad of Team Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan, who win their grand final qualification in the fourth and last race and ended up stepping on the podium.

« We are so happy with this third place. So far we were quite consistent, between 5th and 10th place, but never quite managed to perform », said Solune Robert, helmsman onboard Lorina Mojito. « Our objective in this Tour is to win the Young and Amateur rankings but in Dunkirk we had a bad start by being disqualified in the coastal race for not rounding a mark the proper way, whilst we were in 5th position. We are still a few points behind our lain rivals Natixis and Team France Jeune who are very good too, but we will do our best to catch them up and win at the end».

Their ‘big brothers’ Lorina Limonade are still leading the event overall as they are now moving to their home waters the Gulf of Morbihan for Act 4 starting tomorrow with a coastal race in light winds around ‘l’île aux Moines’.

« Congratulations to CMB who did a fantastic leg in Roscoff », said Lorina Limonade’s co-skipper Quentin Delapierre. « Now it’s going to be very hot in Baden, as we will be at home ! This is where I learned to sail with Matthieu so it will be nice to sail in the bay of our Cata School ! »

One-minute silence

July 15th 2016

The Tour de France à la Voile competitors and event organisers are in shock this morning after hearing the news about Bastille Day attack in Nice. 

The Tour has finished in Nice on La Promenade des Anglais since 2014 and everyone here feel affected by the horror that struck last night. 

During the skippers briefing this morning, event director Jean-Baptiste Durier asked for one-minute silence, before the sailors got ready for today’s inshore races... 

Act 3, Day 2, Roscoff Stadium Racing
North-westerly winds are lighter today and will not exceed 10 knots this afternoon. Race comittee will call for a maximum of six qualifying races before the Grand Final at 3.45pm

Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne wins at home

July 14th 2016

Nicolas Troussel gets a first victory in Roscoff coastal race

Double winner of la Solitaire du Figaro Nicolas Troussel grabs a first victory on home waters in the Bay of Morlaix and stops Team Lorina Limonade’s parade in the Tour de France à la Voile. The young squad of Limonade finished second in today’s coastal race in Roscoff, after four wins in four days of racing. In Young and Amateur Rankings, Natixis-YCSL is back in the lead following his nice 4th place today, while main rival Team France Jeune finished 9th. Competition has just begun !

Lighter conditions might have changed the game today in Roscoff for Act 3 of the Tour. As they have moved futher south down the west coast of France, the 24 teams are finally enjoying summer conditions, with a beautiful sunshine and a nice 10 knots north-westerly breeze. Perfect to celebrate Bastille day and having a cruise sailing in the Bay of Morlaix ! But the Diam24s were not here for cruising. They had a tricky 23 mile coastal race along the rocky but stunning shore of Roscoff and Morlaix, North Brittany.

Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne skipper Nicolas Troussel learned to sail here in the bay and with top crewmembers like match racing and Tour specialists Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl onboard, he started the race as favourite for victory. « We are so happy to win our first race here ! It’s fantastic for our sponsor and our team », said Troussel. « The hard work we’ve doing for a while is paying off. Will it be enough to initiate more victories, we will see at the end of the Tour. But at least our results are consistent and that’s the most important. Mistakes are coslty here on the Tour. Some of our rivals have experienced it today ».

Current leader Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Mobihan have sailed another good race today to cross the finish line in second, and althought they didn’t win this race, they still top the leaderboard with a comfortable seven point margin. But Mourniac father and son on Grandeur Nature Veranda did not succeed in scoring another top 3 position. They crossed the line in 12th place and lose precious points towards the overall leaderboard.

Freeride ski world champion Aurélien Ducroz is also a very good sailor and he is back in the Tour this year with the objective to finish in the top 5. His Diam24 Team Coved scored its first podium place today. « What a wonderful day for us ! It’s the first time we finish on the podium this year. We have a good boat speed, specially upwind. We can still do better downwind. But we are happy. We are in the game ! »

On the Young and Amateur rankings, non-professionnal team from north-britanny Natixis-YCSL takes the leader pink gennaker back from Team France Jeune. And

climbs up to 5th place overall. While international crew Oman Airports by Oman Sail struggled to perform today in Roscoff, as British skipper Stevie Morrison explains : « it was a difficult day for us. We didn’t have a great start and then it’s a long race. We were fighting, but you’re a bit behind, it’s hard. After the start, we thought we’ve done a nice choice near the town. We were on the Roscoff’s shore and we were making nice gains. We were 5 o 6 which was ok considering the start. And then the wind came from the island and we were not on the right side. But the coast is stunning here. I think it’s easier on coastal races, it’s easier with Thierry onboard because his english is stronger than Pierre’s, but Thierry hurt his back a lot on the last coastal race in Dieppe, so he has a lot of physio to do before he can come back onboard. Of course it’s very frustrating, but ‘c’est la vie’. Tomorrow it will be Pierre, Abdul and myself again onoard and we’ll try to do better ».

Tomorrow is day 2 of Act 3 and the fleet will sail a string of qualifying inshore races to try and win a spot for the Grand Final at 3.45pm. Don’t miss the action !

Act 3, Day 1

July 14th 2016

Roscoff Coastal Race

Teams are getting ready for a 23 mile coastal race today in Roscoff, south of Batz island and in the Bay of Morlaix (North Brittany).

Weather charts show a north-northerly breeze between 8 and 10 knots, which is the lightest since the Tour began in Dunkirk last week.

Will Team Lorina Limonade still shine in those lighter conditions ? Some local crew could make the difference today. Double Solitaire du Figaro winner Nicolas Troussel knows the race course well and as his team Credit Mutuel de Bretagne currently sits in 2nd place overal, eight points behind the leader.

« I don’t want to look at the rankings for now. We would love to win this race on our home waters for sure, but being local doesn’t mean we will win it. It’s hard to predict. We’ve worked hard to prepare to navigation but the course is difficult, with many marks to round and we will need to be on top from start to finish », said Nicolas Troussel this morning before leaving the paddock. « We know we can beat the Lorina guys. We are happy with our results so far. Now we just have to be careful not to lose too many points ».

Amateur skipper Emeric Dary on Dynamique Homkia, learnt sailing in the area. His team is currently in 6th place in the Young and Amateur Rankings, on equal points with Dunkerque Voile, but Emeric hasn’t sailed onboard yet. He will be joining his crew today on Roscoff coastal race. « I am very happy to be back. I’ve been watching their performance on the Internet and I just want to go for it now. It’s sych a beautiful place to sail here. I remember my first Optimist competition here, around the castle, fifteen years ago. My crew Joris Cocaud was there too. It’s fantastic to be here today ».

A break from competition

July 13th 2016

The Diam24 have been delivered from Normandy to North Britanny

After four days of racing, the Tour Voile teams are having a break from competition this Wednesday in Roscoff. The Diam24 have been delivered from Normandy to North Britanny, where they will sail a coastal race tomorrow and another series of stadium races on Friday. Time to have a overview on the Tour’s first two Acts results.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dieppe, le 12 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Morgan BOVE / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dieppe, le 12 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Morgan BOVE / ASO - Morgan Bove / ASO

 

The Tour de France à la Voile gathers professionnal and young or amateur sailors who compete together and are ranked in one overall leaderboard, and a specific « Young and Amateur » leaderboard.

Looking at the professionnal teams and the overall rankings, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan is outrageously holding the leader position with four wins in four Acts, and seven wins out of seven races yesterday in stadium racing format.

But weather conditions have been playing in their favour since the Tour began with solid and consistent winds, much appreciated by Matthieu Salomon and Quentin Delapierre young squad. And right behind them, some teams seem to reveal and put pressure on them, like Credit Mutuel de Bretagne, Grandeur Nature Veranda, and Oman Airports by Oman Sail. So Team Lorina Limonade’s domination is still to confirm…

In the Young and Amateur leaderboard, Natixis – YCSL has lost the leader pink gennaker yesterday to Team France Jeune. But the two teams still sit on equal  points. « Our objective is to be qualified for each Grand Final of the Tour in stadium racing, and so far, we managed to do so », said Jules Bidegaray, trimmer onboard Team France Jeune. « Yesterday we finished third in the final, which is not that bad. Our training partners (Team Lorina Limonade) have a great boatspeed and seem to be hard to catch up, but we are confident in our boatspeed downwind and the Tour is not over ».

Despite losing their leadership yesterday, Benoit Champanhac, onboard Natixis – YCSL was very happy to qualify for the grand final : « It was our first grand final so far, so it’s a great result for us. The guys onboard Team France Jeune are very good, for sure, but that’s their job, they sail all the time and they have coaches, performance anylisis etc. When we don’t. They are young professionnal, when we are just amateur sailors. So in a way I am glad they are better than us because one day they will represent France’s sailing ! »

Today the 24 teams have packed the boats and hit the road to Roscoff, for stage 3 of the Tour, and after four days of intense racing in strong wind conditions, it was a much welcome break from competition… But not a real day-off… « I had to stop at home in St Lunaire, on our way to Roscoff, because I have a lawn mowers retail business and one of my clients have a problem with its tractor, so I had to go and have a look at it ! I hope I will still have a few hours to rest before tomorrow’s next coastal race » added Natixis skipper, Benoit Champanhac.

 

Flawless Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan

July 12th 2016

With perfect starts, perfect speed, perfect team work...

Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan grabs seven wins in seven races today in Dieppe for the day of stadium racing. With perfect starts, perfect speed, perfect team work, and not a single mistake Quentin Delapierre, Bruno Mourniac and Kevin Peponnet finished each race with a huge gap over the rest of the fleet. And after only two stages in the Tour, one question arises : who could beat them? 

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dieppe, le 12 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dieppe, le 12 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

Of course they love windy conditions, and they had windy conditions for four days. But is it enough to explain their supremacy on the race course? « It was an incredible day! I think we just wanted to mark our territory and no give anything up », said Kevin Peponnet. « Confidence builds up with confidence and race after race we felt stronger and stronger. Quentin (Delapierre) took a perfect start in the grand final, then we only had to unroll. Our strength also comes from the fact that we are the same crew as last year, when other teams have changed some crew members. And we worked hard all winter and trained all springtime so we don’t even need to talk to each other onboard to call for a manoeuver. But now we remember Groupama last year who dominates in the Atlantic and failed in the Mediterranean, so it’s not over ». 

 

And Grandeur Nature Véranda could be the main threat. Hugely experienced multihull specialist Jean-Christophe Mourniac is starting to find the pace and despite a black flag in race 3, they qualified for the grand final and finished 2nd : « we got a fight in race 3 because we crossed the start line early and got disqualified but we found the motivation to come back in the game, and then we won the next three races. I guess experience helps to stay focused and still go and grab the qualification. We are so happy. Now we know we are in the right train and we’re off. We just have to speed up ». 

 

After yesterday’s intense coastal racing in strong winds, the 24 trimarans offered the public another day of action in front of Dieppe’s seafront. In westerly winds reaching 18-20 knots at times, the teams sailed a series of six qualifying races and a Grand Final at 3.45pm.  

 

International team Oman Airports by Oman Sail also had a black flag at the start of Race 3 and they managed to qualify too. But in the grand final, a problem at the downwind mark prevented them to finish the race. « We had some good starts and some good tactic moments in the series of qualifying races. We fought hard and we qualified for the grand final, which was our objective », said Omani crew member Ali Al Balushi, currently sailing his 5th Tour de France à la Voile. « But then the rudder came off and our race was over. We are a bit disappointed but the Tour is still long. We’ve been training hard for this and being in the top 6 is not bad. Tomorrow is a day off so a bit of chilling out will be nice because tonight will be a long night of packing up the boat and then driving to the next venue tomorrow morning. I look forward to some warmer conditions ». 

Act 2, day 2 : Dieppe

July 12th 2016

Stadium Racing

After yesterday’s intense coastal racing in strong winds, the 24 trimarans will offer the public a day of action in front of Dieppe’s seafront. The beach of pebble stones is a perfect natural stadium to watch the inshore races from 11am to 4.30pm.

Westerly winds should reach 18-20 knots and a series of six qualifying races are on schedule today to get a chance to access the Grand Final at 3.45

« We will have a bit less wind than yesterday, but a bit more right so there might be more waves on the race course », says Pierre Leboucher, tactician onboard Oman Airports by Oman Sail. « Yesterday we didn’t perform as well as we wanted because we broke a sheet and as we tried to repair it we lost a few places, so instead of playing in the top 5, we played in the top 10 ».

International crew of Oman Airports will look to improve on their 8th place in Dunkirk stadium racing.  « Today in the inshore races, we will have to stay focused and work hard on starts, manœuvres and crossings. Speed is not as important in the format of racing. But tactic is. I’ve only sailed the exhibition race since the beginning of the Tour, so I am happy to be onboard today. It’s important to take turns onboard so that other crew members can have a rest ». 

Strong winds and fast coastal racing in Dieppe

July 11th 2016

Up to 25 knots of wind along the cliffs of Normandy

As the second stage of the 2016 Tour Voile, competition has moved from Dunkirk, to Dieppe in Normandy, where racing will take place over July 11 and 12. And for day 1 of Act 2, the fleet had another day of testing conditions with up to 25 knots at one mark of the course that took the 24 boats east and west of Dieppe along the spectacular chalk cliffs of Normandy.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dieppe, le 11 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dieppe, le 11 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

 

The trimarans sailed the 32 mile course in a bit more than three hours, but the solid breeze and choppy seas were hard on the crew. « Our team trained for medium winds, not for these strong winds that are unsual in July », said Fred Guilmin, crewmember on Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne. « We should have milder conditions in Roscoff and Baden, and then maybe stronger winds again in Roses and Gruissan. We will see ». « That’s a pretty intense start for a TFV », said CMB skipper Nicolas Troussel. « We’ve had solid winds for a couple of days now, so it’s getting hard physically, but our crew had a huge TFV experience and we take turns onboard. We have to rest before getting too tired, and we know how to manage that ! »

One team seems to enjoy these conditions : Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan. Today Matthieu Salomon and Quentin Delapierre scored a third victory in three days of racing, and have demonstrated amazing skills to sail faster than other boats upwind. Despite an average start, they climbed up the fleet in the first beat and finished with a comfortable lead over Grandeur Nature Veranda and Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne. « It was a tricky course, with waves and strong gusts », said Salomon. « It was very hard physically. We didn’t do a great start, but Quentin (Ponroy) took a great tactical option and then we just had to follow the navigation that Hervé Gautier prepared for us this morning. All we had to do was to focus on our boat speed. And for sure, we enjoy strong wind conditions upwind ».

Grandeur Nature Véranda will also be a team to watch this year, as Jean-Christophe Mourniac comes back in the TFV after last year’s third place overall. Today they fought a fierce battle with Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne juste behind Team Lorina. « For now the Lorina young guys are winning, but we are slowly putting pressure on them. The Tour if three week long and I think we will have better stages in the Mediterranean that we did last year. We haven’t sailed much this year before the Tour so it takes us more time to find the pace. But we are getting there. We just have to be careful and not lose too many points », said Mourniac.

Dieppe has hosted the Tour Voile 27 times in 39 years, but welcomes the fleet of Diam24 for the first time. And this year, the Normandy region is represented by six teams out of 24. Helvétia Blue by Normandy Elite Team is one of them. The local team, skippered by Guillaume Pirouelle and Victor Migraine arrives in its home land after performing in yesterday’s stadium racing and scoring a fantastic 6th place in the

grand final. « It was amazing to be part of the grand final yesterday. The racing is different with 6 boats instead of 12, but there is no room for error. It’s definitely the race to win. You have to give your best », said Pirouelle this morning at the media conference.

Helvétia Purple by Normandy Elite Team is another local team, 100% female crewed. Pauline Courtois is the co-skipper (with Jennifer Poret), and as a match-race specialist, she knows about intense, short and fast racing format. « It’s really exciting and although I come from keelboat sailing I wanted to come and try out the Diam24. The great aspect about the Tour de France à la Voile is it gathers really high level sailors from all horizons, and now multihull sailing is everywhere, even in the World Match Racing Tour with the M32 catamarans ! »

Tomorrow is day 2 of Act 2, and another string of six inshore races are scheduled to offer the teams a chance to qualify for Dieppe stadium Grand Final at 3.45pm



Act 2, day 1

July 11th 2016

Dieppe, coastal race

As the second stage of the 2016 Tour Voile, competition has moved from Dunkirk, to Dieppe in Normandy, where racing will take place over July 11 and 12. Dieppe has hosted the Tour Voile 27 times in 39 years, but welcomes the fleet of Diam24 for the first time.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dunkerque, le 10 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dunkerque, le 10 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO


Today the 24 trimarans will sail a 32 mile coastal course, starting at 12.45. And as the south-westerly wind is forcast to blow up to 25-30 knots in the gusts, race comittee has decided to not send the fleet offshore, and instead keep them close to the cliffs.

Local Amateur team Helvétia Blue by Normandy Elite Team skippered by Guillaume Pirouelle and Victor Migraine arrives in its home land after performing in yesterday’s stadium racing and scoring a fantastic 6th place in the grand final. « It was amazing to be part of the grand final yesterday. The racing is different with 6 boats instead of 12, but there is no room for error. It’s definitely the race to win. You have to give your best », said Pirouelle this morning at the media conference. 

Helvétia Purple by Normandy Elite Team is another local team, 100% female crewed. Pauline Courtois is the co-skipper (with Jennifer Poret), and as a match-race specialist, she knows about intense, short and fast racing format. « It’s really exciting and although I come from keelboat sailing I wanted to come and try out the Diam24. The great aspect about the Tour de France à la Voile is it gathers really high level sailors from all horizons, and now multihull sailing is everywhere, even in the World Match Racing Tour with the M32 catamarans ! »

TEAM LORINA LIMONADE LEADS THE TFV IN DUNKIRK

July 10th 2016

Team Coved wins the Finagaz award for combativeness

After two days of racing in Dunkirk, Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan is already proving to be a benchmark team. Their massive victory in the coastal race on Friday with an eight minute lead was just a glimpse of their skills. Today, they won four of the six qualification and did an incredible job at coming back from the end of the fleet to win the Grand Final.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dunkerque, le 10 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dunkerque, le 10 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

« Kévin and Bruno have been amazing, because despite our bad start, they stayed focused until the end and we managed to pass the other boats and win the race », said skipper Quentin Delapierre. « We really enjoyed the sailing conditions in Dunkirk in the last three days »

« We were behind at the start so the race course was all open for us. We saw the others boats going too far on one side so we had a card to play. We fought hard, we had a good team work, and it paid off », said crewmember Bruno Mourniac.

All 24 teams fought fiercely for the points on offer for each of today’s six races. In a solid breeze reaching 25 knots in the gusts, Team Coved scored a victory and two podium places. Double freeride ski world champion Aurélien Ducroz could not be happier with this string of results : « it was an incredible day of intense racing. We are stoked ! A 5th place on the coastal race and now a 4th in today’s stadium races… That’s everything we could wish for to begin the Tour. The challenge in the inshore races is to be consistent. One single mistake and you lose five places. We know we are missing a bit of training compared to other teams but the atmosphere onboard is fantastic and we just want to go for it, so we are improving every day ».

Aurélien Ducroz sailed the Tour de France last year on a Diam 24, but with his current crew, he only had ten days of training. As they finished 4th overall in Dunkirk, they were awarded with the Finagaz price for combativeness.

International crew Oman Airports didn’t win a race today but scored a nice set of results, with a 2nd, a 3rd, and three 5th positions. They keep 4th position overall after two days of racing.

Tonight the Diam 24 convoy will hit the road to Dieppe, for tomorrow’s second coastal race

PRACTICING FOR TOMORROW’S FIRST STADIUM RACES

July 9th 2016

Exhibition races for media, sponsors, and spectators

The fleet had a break from the competition today in Dunkirk. They sailed a series of exhibition races to offer a few hours of action for the crowds who came in force to the beach of Malo les Bains. The results will not be taken into consideration, but this day of sailing in a nice conditions was a perfect test before tomorrow’s first string of stadium inshore races.

Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dunkerque, le 09 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2016, étape de Dunkerque, le 09 juillet 2016. Crédit photo : Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

Sunshine, flat seas, 10-15 knots of breeze. Who could ask for more? The media and team guests who stepped onboard each Diam24 had the perfect conditions to get a taste at the light, fast and fun trimaran.

 

The top team led the game, with Cardinal – Fenetréa finishing first the today’s scoreboard, after a win and two podium places. Julien Villion « great conditions on the race course, but we had a strong current so it was technically challenging. It was a bit like a friendly game today as we were not in real race conditions with a guest onboard, but it’s always good practicing starts and crew work ».

 

Three non-french teams, and potentially more next year

 

Growing international is one of the Tour de France à la Voile objective. Last year, the event attracted two teams from abroad. And this year, they are three.

 

Be – Brussels (BEL18) is a belgian campaign led by one of the Tour Voile’s historical figure, Mady Fobert who has brought young and amateur sailors to the event since 1993. After missing last year’s edition, the belgian squad is back with a group of multihull sailors including Nicolas Spilleboudt as the skipper. The enthusiasted crew had a few training sessions in Nieuwpoort before the Tour, but not enough to expect a valuable result. « We all know each other well because we’ve been sailing together for a while but we are discovering a new boat and we haven’t had enough training. Our objective is simply to keep the boat together and to finish the Tour. If we can score a few good races, we will be happy and it will be a nice start for us », said crewmember Morgan Good.

 

Although he is based in Britanny and is surrounded by a french crew, Swiss offshore sailor Bernard Stamm would not give up his SUI29 sail number. This year is Cheminées Poujoulat second campaign on the Diam 24, and they are back with a valuable knowledge that could take them to the top 10. « We know how challenging this event is and we are still learning, but we are hoping to see our results improve throughout the Tour and we are aiming for a top 10 position overall », said Stamm. This year, the Swiss skipper has surrounded himself with olympic sailors Marie Soler and Hugues Puimatto and offshore sailor Gwen Riou.

 

Oman Airports By OmanSail is the most promising non-french team this year. By finishing 4th of yesterday’s coastal race they have already shown a fantastic potential and could definitely win a few races in this Tour. OMA22 is skippered by multihull sailor Stevie Morrison and match racing sailor Thierry Douillard. The French-British pair have two Omanis (Abdulhaman Al Mashari and Ali Al Balushi) and another talented French crew onboard (Pierre Leboucher). Thierry Douillard, who is the only sailor in the 2016 TFV to have won the event before. « I’ve done the Tour de France a dozen times, the first one being in 1992 or 1993, and I’ve won four of them, one on a Jod35, two on the Mumm and one last year on the Diam24. Few sailing events offer three weeks of racing like this one. The new format is nice, quite similar to what I’ve experienced in the Extreme Sailing Series. I was not sure I would come back this year, but the Oman Sail campaign is very nice because it’s international. That’s what I like about it ! »

 

A future Diam 24 campaign from Poland ?

 

Piotr Weltrowski and Filip Walczak are two multihull sailors from Poland. They come from Sopot on the Baltic coast where they have sailed F18 and A Class boats. In September last year Filip took part in the Little America’s Cup with the german team on Lake Geneva and after thinking of a Flying Phantom project, Piotr and Filip have finally chosen to build a Diam24 campaign for next year. « The Flying Phantom is a great boat but the events are not that attractive for a sponsor. Whereas the Tour de France à la Voile is very professionnal and it offers amazing opportunities », says Piotr. « Jean-Christophe Mourniac first told me about it, so Filip and I decided to follow the whole Tour in order to learn more about the event and the boat. I was a guest onboard one of the Diam24 today in the exhibition races. It was my first time on this trimaran and I loved it. It’s fast and it’s fun ! »

TEAM LORINA LIMONADE – GOLFE DU MORBIHAN WINS FIRST RACE IN DUNKIRK

July 8th 2016

39 miles Coastal Race

Last year’s young guns Quentin Delapierre, Matthieu Salomon and Quentin Ponroy grab the first win in Dunkirk. After more than three hours of racing on a course that took them off Belgium coast and back, they crossed the finish line with a comfortable lead over second place Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne and Grandeur Nature Véranda. International Team Oman Airports by Oman Sail finished 4th. A good satisfying for their first attempt in the Tour Voile on a Diam 24.

Tour de France Voile 2016, Dunkerque le 08 Juillet 2016
Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO
Tour de France Voile 2016, Dunkerque le 08 Juillet 2016 Photo © Jean Marie Liot / ASO - Jean Marie Liot / ASO

After finishing 4th in the 2015 edition of Tour (1st Amateur), and a very good early season, the Lorina boys were the squad to watch and definitely part of the race favourites. And by winning the first race of the Tour’s 39th edition with an eight minute margin, they are showing an incredible potential for the rest of the event. But skipper Matthieu Salomon is realistic.

 

« It’s always nice to win the first race, for sure, and we are very happy to start the event this way, but we’ve done the Tour before and we know how long it is. So winning the first race doesn’t mean we are going to win the event. We will have to stay focused until the end. We know our boat is very well prepared and we proved it today in solid breeze, but now we have to keep sailing as we are used to ».

 

For their first attempt on the Tour Voile with a Diam 24, international team Oman Airports by Oman Sail grabs a satisfying 4th place. In a west-south-westerly breeze blowing from 15 to 20 knots, they had a great fight with some of the race favourites, all along the 39 mile course.  Foil sailing specialist and olympic sailor Stevie Morrison seemed to find his marks very quickly.

 « We are very new to the event and we are learning all the time. We also have to learn about everyone’s culture because we have a mixt crew from France, Oman and England, so we speak ‘franglish’ onboard. These boats are of course very different from foil boats because they are smaller and slower, but with foil boats you are in the air so the sensation of speed is less, and in some ways they are safer because when you have a little gust you put more lift on the foil, whereas with this you have a gust and it’s like sailing a submarine ! »

 Tomorrow the crews will have a break from the competition, with just a few exhibition races for the media and the sponsors. When Sunday will be a day of Stadium races.

Ready for another Tour !

July 7th 2016

The 39th Tour de France à la Voile will kick off tomorrow in Dunkirk

24 teams competing on a coastal race (on Friday) and a serie of stadium races (on Sunday) onboard their Diam24 trimarans.

Here is the program

  • First coastal race in Dunkirk on Friday 8th July, starting at 12.45 local time
  • Stadium races on Sunday 10th July, with a first start at 11.30
  • A Grand Final, for more excitement
  • A unique LIVE program 

 

THE ACTS
This years’s TFV will be stoping in nine venues of France and Spain : Dunkirk, Dieppe, Roscoff, Baden, Roses, Gruissan, Marseille, Hyères and Nice. On each stop, the boats will compete in a coastal race on the first day, and a series of stadium races on the second day, with an extra exhibition race for Dunkirk and Nice to open and close this gruelling three week event. 

COASTAL RACE 
Each Act will start with a Coastal Race, that will not exceed three hours of racing. The route will be set according to the weather conditions, with a start and a finish line on the same spot, as close as possible from the spectator area. 

SCORING 
The first boat to cross the finish line will be awarded 50 points, the second 49 points, etc. 

STADIUM RACES 

  • QUALIFICATIONS
    From 11am, the fleet will start a series of qualification races (a maximum of eight), right in front of the spectator zone, with live commentaries and music.
  • THE GRAND FINAL
    After these qualification races, the six best teams will compete in the Grand Final, which is the novelty of the year. It will consist of one unique race, set between 3.30 and 4.30pm local time. 

Each stadium race will start under black flag, which means : no room for mistakes. If one boat starts early, it will be disqualified from the ongoing race. 

SCORING
The winner of the grand final will be awarded 50 points, the 6th boat 45 points and the other points will be awarded to the non-qualified, this 7th place getting 44 points, etc.

RANKINGS

At the end of each Act, two scoreboards will be updated :

  • the overall rankings by Yanmar
  • the youth and amateur rankings by Finagaz

FOLLOW THE EVENT!

Spectator Area : it will be THE place to be on each Act. Located in the most strategic spots in each venue, these spectator areas will offer the public everything they need to follow and understand the racing. With live commentaries from 3.30pm to 4.30pm

At home (or at the office) : with onboard cameras on each Diam24, the television production will be better than ever. Each day on the event official website www.tourvoile.fr, the live program will be available from 3.30pm to 4.30pm with either the coastal race finish or the whole grand final. 

INTERNATIONAL TV BROADCAST
The final 52 minutes program will be broadcast throughout 34 channels (vs 31 in 2015)

  • 190 countries (same as 2015) with 9 main channels (Eurosport International covers 54 territories in Europe, Supersport covers 52 territories in Sub-Saharian Africa, OSN covers 23 territories in the Middle East, Eurosport Asia covers 16 territories in Asia, Fox Asia covers 18 territories in Asia, ESPN International covers 46 territories in South America, Claro Sports covers 17 territories in South America, PXTV covers 33 territories in North America and South America, and Nautical Channel covers 42 countries mainly in Europe) 
  • The World Sailing Show: will broadcast some Tour de France à la Voile footage, in its 26 minute program dedicated to the biggest sailing events in the world. Distributed in 41 international TV channels (covering 190 countries) 

NEW in 2016: Viasat Sport Baltic (Estonia/ Lituania/ Lettonia) ; DiGi Sport (Romania/ Hungary) ; SRG (Switzerland) ; Fox Australia ; Mai TV (Fidji) ; Claro Sports and PXTV (South America) 

A true success at the Poole Regatta 2016

June 3rd 2016

The Diam24 boats shined across the Channel

On May 28-30, five Diam24 teams entered the Poole Regatta. Mike Golding stood out, taking the line honours ahead of Philip Cotton and Robert Gullan, who will compete in the Tour de France à la Voile this summer with Team Concise.

Five British Diam24 met in Poole last weekend for three days of racing along the English coast. Eight races were sailed in ideal conditions – a sunny weather and 20 knots of wind. 

The competitors discovered the small racing trimaran – amongst them were some of sailing’s biggest names like British skipper Mike Golding who’s three Vendée Globe under his belt. He won half of the Poole Regatta races. 

It’s a great boat,” said Golding. “We’ve enjoyed it a lot and had some great sensations. It reminded me of the Extreme 40. It would be nice to have a proper fleet in the UK!” 

Philip Cotton also did well, taking second with the boat Buzz. 

Robert Gullan (Team Concise) finished third. Very happy with the Poole Regatta, he is looking forward to taking part to the Tour de France à la Voile. 

Piers Hugh Smith too was delighted with the sailing and would now like to enter the Tour de France à la Voile in 2017 – it’s the main event of the year for the Diam24 boats. 

Until then, all hope to come see one of the races this summer on the French coast. “This boat is lots of fun and speed,” said Piers Hugh Smith. “It’s quick to assemble and rather easy to understand. One of my crew confessed he never had so much fun on a boat! It was a successful weekend.” 

The Diam24 has seduced the English sailors. Seen as a light, fast and fun class, it has made the five crews about over the weekend – and Andi Robertson, the Yachts & Yachting journalist who’s tried it, too. 

Read the article here

The Diam24 boats will come back to England for the Plymouth Regatta (July 15-17), the Taittinger Regatta (July 29-31), the Cowes Week (August 6-13) and the Southampton Event (September 16-18).

The 39th Tour de France à la Voile is moving forward

May 24th 2016

In 2016, the Tour de France à la Voile keeps growing around the Diam 24, the event official boat until 2019. With 28 teams, the summer show will also be a key moment for the sport. Staying close to the spectators, the Tour de France à la Voile offers a lot of novelties for a better and easier understanding and access to the regattas.

Diam40 OD boats offered a breath-taking show in the first races of the season. The Tour de France à la Voile’s future competitors showed their potential at the Spi Ouest France, Grand Prix Atlantique, Grand Prix Guyader and Grand Prix de l’Ecole Navale. Talented crew were revealed, such as Team France Jeune, Lorina Limonade Golfe du Morbihan and Grandeur Nature Véranda, who won in every one of these races. The playing field is competitive and there will be no room for error on the water. The sailors will have to be at their best technically, find the good speed and not let the pressure get to them during the 20 racing days if they want to take the line honours in Nice. Which of the 28 teams will follow Spindrift’s footsteps, winner of the last year’s edition in Diam 24?

 

All competitors were gathered in Paris this Tuesday to discover the coming innovations – both on the water and on shore.

What’s new for the sport

 

Racing rules have been modified to make the Tour de France à la Voile always more readable and spectacular. During the inshore races (called ‘Nautical Stadium’), all starts will take place under black flag and a ‘Super Finale’ will decide the winners of the day.

With a black flag on every inshore start, no mistakes are allowed. All boats showing up on the start line too early will be disqualified. The Super Finale will then see the winners of the qualifiers face each other daily, and the first one to cross the line will be the day’s winner.

A new reward: the Finagaz Price for Combativeness

What’s new for the spectators?

Spectators will be at the heart of the Tour de France à la Voile 2016. The Spectator Area, live program, paddock development (six in nine acts this year) and gifts to win will engage the spectators in this summer adventure.


The Spectator Area will be ideally placed to follow the show on the water. It will be a leisure area with a perfect view over the racing zone installed in every stopover. Daily live programs will be broadcasted from 3.30pm to 4.30pm on a giant screen in the middle of the race village and on internet, helping fans to better understand the nautical battles. Renowned hosts will jump in from the water and on shore.

There will be many gifts to win, too. Spectators are spoiled in this 2016 edition, with a draw organised by the official partner Triominos at every act. There are nine cars to win through the entire duration of the event.

The promotional Caravan will follow the French coastline, giving away goodies and candies. It’s been a great success since its launch in 2013, covering nearly 1,000k every summer while meeting the fans.

Finally, every crew will race with onboard cameras to share and deliver more footage. Yet another way to experience spectacular racing up close !


Towards a participation record

December 4th 2015

The Tour de France à la Voile 2016 was presented today at Paris Boat Show. The event is looking strong ahead of the second edition to be sailed on Diam 24 boats. Entries have been open for only a month and 31 teams have already announced their participation. Several more teams are keen to join while looking to complete their budget.

The success of the new concept launched last year is attracting competitors, sponsors, partners and local authorities. “All our 2015 host ports have asked to welcome the Tour de France à la Voile again shortly after the event, which goes to show its new dynamic,” explained the event director Jean-Baptiste Durier to the 300 persons gathered this morning to discover the route and the novelties of the 2016 edition.

A renewed spirit

Amaury Sport Organisation revitalized the event without changing what makes the Tour de France à la Voile so unique – sailors coming from all horizons. This will once again be the case this year, yet another proof of the appeal of the race.

In fact, most of last year’s teams will be on the start line again this coming summer. Filière Team France, a youth team carrying the colours of Franck Cammas’ French project in the next America’s Cup. Third last year, Fred Guilmin and Damien Iehl will sail with Nicolas Troussel for Crédit Mutuel Bretagne; Quentin Delapierre and Mathieu Salomon with Team Lorina Golfe du Morbihan while Solune Robert and Riwan Perron sail with their second crew. The Spindrift team is currently on the water, focused on its Jules Verne Trophy attempt – the defending champions will announce their program for 2016 after their circumnavigation.

The young guns of the APCC are coming back and so are Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), Aurélien Ducroz (COVED), Fred Duthil (Grandeur Nature Véranda), Damien Seguin (Fondation FDJ), Benoit Champanach (Accor Hôtel Natixis Yacht Club Saint-Lunaire), Emeric Dary (Dynamique Homkia), Sébastien Rogues (Team Engie), Charles Hainneville (Installux Aluminium), Loic Féquet with Franck-Yves Escoffier (SNBSM Espoir Compétition Saint-Malo), Arnaud Daval (Techneau), Daniel Souben (Extrem Team Morbihan) or Dunkerque Voile.

New competitors

Other projects have joined too: Trésors de Tahiti, VDC Offshore, Colombus Café, the project of the Centre d’Entrainement Méditerranée, Normandy Elite Team au féminin, Marc Thiercelin (Flying boat by Thiercelin), Ile de France – CVSQ, Team Terrillon Avocats, Reel / PGO Automobiles, ORPI Sailing Team, Team Concise (UK), BE Bruxelles (BEL) and Oman Sail who’re coming back in 2016.

This entry list (30 teams for the moment) will only get longer, with four Wild Cards available for projects outside of the European Union. But, with seven months to go the start, the playing field is already bigger than last year (28 teams). “Seeing the Tour attracting so many sailors is a true satisfaction. This new formula has been thought with them and for them. We’re delighted to welcome even more teams this year!” added Jean-Baptiste Durier.

Three new ‘Iconic Acts’

December 4th 2015

The Tour de France à la Voile is attracting more and more host ports. Looking at renewing the route one-third at a time, the Tour will return to the Normandy cliffs of Dieppe this summer. The Diam 24 will then discover two new locations amongst the most beautiful of the French coastline: Baden-Golfe of Morbihan in southern Brittany and Hyères and its islands, including Porquerolles, in the Toulon Provence Méditerranée area.

As usual, there will be nine ‘Acts’ – this time with a Mediterranean accent. “Mainly for sport and logistic reasons, we focus every year on a given area while staying within the three weeks of racing and sharing equally between the different coastlines over several editions,” explained Jean-Baptiste Durier. The other Acts of the Tour 2016 were already host ports last year: Dunkirk, Roscoff, Gruissan, Marseille and Nice – where the final will be hosted once again.

This new dynamic is the main reason why host ports showed a renewed interest in the event. The sailing show organised right next to the beach, and the Village, are key local players as explained by Jean-Paul Chapalain, Président of Morlaix CCI. “Roscoff marina is becoming a highlight of the Tour de France à la Voile where the teams are coming back for the third time in a row. It was a success again in 2015 and the Diam 24 can sail really close to the coast, emphasizing our magnificent Finistère north coast. Last year’s show was splendid around the isle of Batz and the tight racing was mind blowing. Thanks to the Tour de France à la Voile, there is something to do on dry land too and the Village attracted many families. That’s why we enjoyed this event so much.”

With a Village open to everyone, an advertising convoy and beach activities, the Tour de France à la Voile reached 25,000 contacts per Act in 2015 – the presence of the spectators having increased, too, according to a TNS Sofres survey. People stayed an average of two to three hours, a duration that proves how the event constantly gets richer in terms of sport and on land activities.

One Tour, many innovations

December 4th 2015

Learning from the 2015 ‘Revolution’, the Tour de France à la Voile will keep evolving to meet the needs of this growth. The logistics on and off the water will be improved, including around the ‘Paddocks’, with more human and material resources.

Rules will evolve, too. Inshore races (‘Stades Nautiques’) will now start automatically under Black Flag – all missed starts will now be disqualifying, just like in swimming or athletism. There will be more on-water umpires along with international judges, making a combination of two qualifying races possible for a denser, uninterrupted show.

Another innovation will be the Super-Finale concluding the racing days. After the qualifying races, only the six best teams will stay on the water to race this Super-Finale with all points brought back to zero. Every day, the first six places will be fought over one unique race, a novelty in a sport usually using averages. The first to cross the line will win the day. The pressure on the water will only be bigger and this new system will please the crowds and the media who will find it easier to explain the ranking systeams.

“The Tour is an evolving event,” concludes Jean-Baptiste Durier. “We’re constantly innovating to satisfy sailors, ports, partners, media and spectators, and they’re giving a lot back to us. The Tour did its Revolution in 2015 and this Revolution is happening now.”

Huge success for first edition of the Tour’s new version

July 26th 2015

Fast racing, thousands of visitors and a suspense up to the very last

The 2015 Tour de France à la Voile is coming to an end and after the victory of Team Spindrift yesterday, the fleet sailed a series of exhibition races followed by a boat parade in the Bay of Angels. The 28 teams have been part of a fantastic 38th edition that saw the launch of a new race boat, the Diam 24 trimaran, and a new Stadium Racing format to bring the action closer from the spectators.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Marseille, le 22 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Marseille, le 22 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

« We all wanted to bring sailing close from the shore and the public », said Spindrift skipper Xavier Revil. « It’s a wonderful sport. I hope the spectators who were watching us from the shore have enjoyed it. Sailing is becoming a show and I think this is great. It’s beautiful, there’s action, suspense, tension, crashes, and that’s just life. I think we managed to pass on the message to the public and I think this Tour is a huge success ».

The Race Village welcome thousands of visitors in each venue all around the country over 9 Acts. Dunkirk, Fécamp, Pornichet, Roscoff, Les Sables d’Olonne, Roses, Gruissan, Marseille and Nice. Each stage of the 2015 Tour de France à la Voile has offered the sailors a perfect mix of sailing conditions and a lot of action on the race course, with dramatic capsizes and crashes. « I don’t want to think of the final result, but of our five victories and all the races we won », said Groupama’s helmsman Pierre Pennec. « We’ve had some amazing sailing moments, like when we finished first six minutes ahead of the second boat in Pornichet coastal race. We had a great boat speed. It was fantastic. Then on the Stadium racing in Gruissan where we struggled in the first race and then came back to win the next three races. To me it was one of the best moments of this Tour. And I will also remember the astonishing coastline in Fécamp, Roscoff and Marseille. It’s just so beautiful. I would like to thank our team who has been amazing in shore and on the water ».

The new Diam 24 also had a huge success amongst the teams. Light, fast, easy and quick to dismantle and put back together, reasonnably low-cost compared to other boats, the one-design trimaran is a perfect platform for a itinerant sailing event like the Tour de France à la Voile. « I love the Tour’s new version. We are closer from the shore and it’s fast. Sailing a coastal race doing an average 10-15 knots boat speed is amazing. It’s a real pleasure », said CombiWest skipper Frédéric Guilmin. « Hats off to A.S.O who managed this event remarkably well, when no one knew how it would go with the logistics onland », said Spindrift skipper Xavier Revil. «We were a bit concerned about that but it went really well, with good spirit, and that’s a real bonus ».

Following this memorable edition, many teams have already expressed their interest for next year’s Tour de France. « We’ll be back next year for sure ! », said Vannes Agglo – Golfe du morbihan co-skipper Matthieu Salomon, whose team was the youngest one of this year’s line-up and won the corinthian rankings. « Vannes Agglo is a three year campaign and we want to come back and win the overall rankings. It might be a bit ambitious but we are going to prepare and train hard for that ».


And the winner of the Tour de France à la Voile is : Spindrift

July 25th 2015

Last Stadium Racing day canceled due to strong wind

François Morvan and Xavier Revil win the 2015 TFV after three weeks of astounding competition against their two biggest rivals Groupama and CombiWest. It was tight until the end, and although today’s racing was canceled due to strong wind, a winner had to be crowned and it is Spindrift ! Tied in points with Groupama on the leaderboard after yesterday’s coastal race, the two teams had the same amount of victories, but Spindrift had more 2nd places than Pierre Pennec and his crew…

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Nice, le 25 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Nice, le 25 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

It’s been a crazy last day on the water in Nice. From very light this morning the wind turned into a blast to reach up to 30 knots+ in the afternoon with rough seas that saw Engie capsize and crash into Armor Lux. Around 4pm the conditions on the water were becoming nasty and forced the Race Committee to cancel this last Stadium Racing day. As always in this format, the fleet was split in two groups of 14 boats to sail the qualification races. But the yellow group (including Spindrift) sailed two races, while the grey group (including Groupama and CombiWest) only sailed one, as starting a second one would have been too dangerous in winds exceeding 30 knots at times. The Race Committee had to send the fleet back in the harbour and cancel the racing without taking into account today’s results in the qualification races.

« It’s an incredible scenario. We are so happy », said François Morvan. « Even if we had a tough time about half way through the event, we never gave up. We keeps pushing hard and we were always looking to improve our boat speed. Today it was a bit painful to wait for the wind to kick in and then it was hard to wait not knowing if we would be able to keep racing or not. Over the two races we sailed today, we scored a 2nd place and a win and we were waiting for the committee to start Groupama’s fleet 2nd qualification race. But following our results, it was done deal anyway, even if they were to win their next race ».

Pennec : « we’ll be back and win it »

François Morvan, Xavier Revil, Matthieu Vandame, Thierry Douillard and Fred Moreau also win the Coastal Race Rankings, while Groupama win the Stadium Racing Rankings. « We really wanted to win this Tour and finish second tied in points with the winner », said Groupama’s halmsman Pierre Pennec. « We lost 30 points over two coastal races in Gruissan and in Nice when the wind was very shifty, but apart from that we sailed really well. I am disappointed because I wanted to win this Tour because you can’t always get what you want. We will come back and win it. The Race Committee was right to cancel the racing because the wind was strong and most of all the sea was rough. There would have been a lot of capsizes and potentially some injuries. It was too rough. It’s a shame the wind got so strong because it was nice when we started the first race. I would have like a real final against Spindrift. But it’s interesting to finish tied in points with them. We know where are the missing points. I don’t want to think about it too much ».

CombiWest finished third overall, only three points behind Spindrift and Groupama. And they take second place in the Stadium racing rankings. « Maybe we topped the leaderboard too early » said skipper Frédéric Guilmin. « We were on a peak between Pornichet and Roses and then we had some downs that cost a lot. But we are not disappointed with this third place because it we’ve reached our objective. When we look back, we can be proud of ourselves. Well done to the winner. They cam out in the light and took everything they could and they really deserve their win because they sailed really well today. They were definitely the best on the water ».

The young guns of Vannes Agglo – Golfe du Morbihan finish fourth overall and win the Corinthian Rankings. The
youngest crew of the fleet are still students and they don’t make a living out of their passion for sailing… Yet. They are a promosing team who will very likely come back on the Tour next year to try and win it overall. « It’s a fantastic reward for our first Tour », said co-skipper Matthieu Salomon. « We will always have fond memories of this first experience. We were in competition with some of France best sailors and it’s amazing for us.We are delighted to finish fourth and to win the corinthian rankings. We trained realy hard with Daniel Souben and being a group of friends helped us too I think. We never had any pressure on. We always enjoyed sailing together. And when you enjoy it, you can perform. We’ll be back for sure. Vannes Agglo is a three year campaign so we will aim to finish on the podium next year ».

SPINDRIFT WINNER OF THE 2015 TOUR DE FRANCE A LA VOILE

July 25th 2015

FLASH

François Morvan and Xavier Revil win the 2015 TFV. After a crazy day on the water with rough conditions that forced the Race Committee to cancel the last Stadium Racing day, yesterday's overall leader becomes the winner of the Tour. Spindrift is tied in points with Groupama and have equal amount of victories, but they also have more 2nd place than Groupama. It's a huge disapointment for Groupama team who lead the fleet for most of event and who probably deserves the victory just as much as Spindrift. But there can only be one winner, and the winner today is Spindrift

More to follow…

BREAKING NEWS

July 25th 2015

Racing cancelled for today

 Due to strong wind (more than 30 knots on the water and rough seas) the Race Committee decided to cancel today's last racing day. Since the two groups of boats haven't sailed their minimum of two qualification races each, the results of the Yellow Group two qualification races and the Grey Group one qualification race won't count towards the rankings.

Follow the final Stadium Racing day in real time

July 25th 2015

Strong west-south-westerly breeze in the Bay of Angels.

Follow the final Stadium Racing day in real time

Strong west-south-westerly breeze in the Bay of Angels. All the boats are sailing with one reef in the main.

 

 

Race 2 Yellow Group

Crazy sailing conditions. More than 25 knots of wind now on the race course

Engie capsized and Armor Lux crashed into it.

Individual recall for Vannes Agglo at the start

  1. Spindrift - 50pts
  2. Grandeur Nature - 49
  3. Normandy Elite - 48
  4. La France du Nord au Sud - 47
  5. Vannes Agglo - 46
  6. Sodebo - 45
  7. PRB - 44
  8. Dunkerque - 43
  9. Made in Midi - 42
  10. Team OZ - 41
  11. 30 Corsaires - 40
  12. Accor Natixis - 39
  13. Engie
  14. Armor Lux




Race 1 Grey Group

After a indivudual recall on the start line for Combi West and Groupama

  1. Prince de Bretagne - 50pts
  2. Poujoulat - 49
  3. Groupama - 48
  4. West Courtage - 47
  5. Maître Coq - 46
  6. Fondation FDJ - 45
  7. Lorina - 44
  8. Dynamique Voile - 43
  9. Combi West - 42
  10. Radio Vinci - 41
  11. Agrival - 40
  12. Souffle du Nord - 39
  13. Beijaflore - 38
  14. Techneau - 37




Race 1 Yellow Group

Vannes Agglo - Golfe du Morbihan - 50pts

Spindrift - 49

Dunkerque Voile - 48

La France du Nord au Sud - 47

ENGIE - 46

Sodebo - 45

PRB - 44

Accor Hotel/ NATIXIS - 43

Armor Lux - Comptoir de la Mer - 42

Made in Midi - 41

Grandeur Nature Vérandas - 40

Normandy Elite Team - 39

 30 Corsaires - 38

 Team OZ - 37


A decisive day

July 25th 2015

Arm wrestling stadium racing to decide the Tour’s champion

Last day of this 2015 Tour de France à la Voile. Who of the top 3 boats will win the title ? Groupama and Spindrift are tied in points in the lead, with only a three point margin over CombiWest. Anything can happen in last Stadium Racing day in Nice.

The fleet will sail a series of 3 or 4 qualification races and a final in a wind forecast to blom south-westerly 5 to 10 knots this morning and up to 15 knots in the afternoon.

 

« It’s just like a day at the office », said François Morvan this morning after the skipper briefing. « We are going to follow our routine, prepare for the stadium racing this afternoon and sail as well as we can without thinking too much of of final results and the rankings ».

Incredible scenario just a day before the Tour's finish

July 24th 2015

Spindrift comes up the rankings in first tied in points with Groupama

Spindrift wins last Coastal Race in Nice to come up the rankings in first tied in points with Groupama !

The leaderboard top 5 has been totally shaken up today after the last coastal race that took the fleet on a 20 mile long course in the Bay of Angels in Nice. The wind did not exceed 6 knots all day and got even lighter at the finish. Groupama and CombiWest who have been fighting for first place for the last three weeks are now threatened by Spindrift who won Act 9 coastal race and took advantage of his rivals average performance to top the leaderboard tied in points with Groupama and only three points from third place CombiWest. 

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Nice, le 24 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Nice, le 24 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

« What a great day », said Spindrift co-skipper François Morvan. « It's always nice when you're in the lead. We did everything as we should on our side, while the others tried to mark each other. We had nothing to lose. It's great. Nothing is over until it's over ».

The wind was not as consistent as forecast. The seabreeze conflicted with a thunderstorm inland that left the fleet with very light wind on the second part of the course, with lots of lulls. It was a long and nerve wrecking race for the 28 teams, and those who didn't take a good start would struggle to come back in the game. That was the case of Groupama and CombiWest. « The line was more favourable on the left hand side and according to our weather forecast and from the previous experience we had on this race course with a south-westerly wind, it would be more favourable to the right, toward Nice airport », explained Groupama helmsman Pierre Pennec. « Spindrift went on the best side and sailed a very nice race, while we had trouble passing boats. We were hoping the wind to fluctuate so we could move back up the fleet, but it didn't happen. It's not the ideal scenario for us, but two points ahead, two points behind or tied in points do not change anything really ».

But it changes the leaderboard a lot. Apart from Groupama now tied in points with Spindrift in the lead, the next six boats are not in the same position as they were yesterday. CombiWest is third tonight, only three points from the two leaders. They managed to save the day, despite a very bad start. « We rounded the first mark in 28th position. Why ? Because we wanted to be careful and stay with Groupama » explained skipper Fred Guilmin. « We thought the seabreeze would kick in from offshore and in the end it came from the left. We tried another tactic and found our way up to round the aiport mark in 10th, and finish 9th. I don't know if it's a good or a bad day. Maybe a bit of both ».

Also to note the fantastic performance of Radio Vinci Autoroute who finished 2nd, their best result so far, and Prince de Bretagne, who finished 3rd and made his way up the leaderboard to 6th position tonight before end of play tomorrow. « We passed a lot of boats around the course. We did not make many mistakes and managed to keep our head clear. It's wonderful for us to proof that we have the potential to score good results », said Radio Vinci Autoroutes skipper Jean-Baptiste Gellée.

Act 9 in Nice : Final stretch

July 24th 2015

A decisive last coastal race

The fleet will sail a 22 mile long coastal race starting at 1pm from the beach in Nice, towards Cap Ferrat to the east and the airport to the west. The wind is currently very light, but the seabreeze is expected to kick-in early afternoon, to reach 8-10 knots.

This last coastal race could be decisive for the Tour's rankings, as only 13 points separate race leader Groupama from Spindrift in third, with CombiWest 8 points from top position.

« I am very happy with this tight leaderboard because I love tight racing. I just hope the wind will be strong enough on the start line to have a fair game, and not a lottery », said Groupama Helmsman Pierre Pennec this morning at the press conference.

« We are just going to race as usual », said CombiWest skipper Fred Guilmin, who lost the leadership two days ago in Marseille. « We have a fighting spirit so we will fight back. Today is just the last turn, but the final stretch is tomorrow. It's not over yet ». 

PRB wins Stadium Racing in Marseille

July 23rd 2015

And Groupama extend the lead overall, two days from the finish in Nice

The mistral wind was not as strong as forecast and the fleet ended up having amazing sailing conditions on Marseille race course. Hot temperatures, big blue sky, warm water, nice 10-12 knots wind... As always the 28 boats were split in two groups to compete in a series of four qualification races and one final. None of the race leaders finished in the top 3 today. PRB scored three race victories and won the day, Prince de Bretagne finished in 2 and Vannes Agglo in 3. 

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Marseille, le 23 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Marseille, le 23 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

It's their best Act so far. Vincent Riou and his crew have had two fantastic days in Marseille. After a 2nd place yesterday on the Coastal course, they scored victory today in Stadium racing format. A great result for PRB team who started the Med in 9th position just a week ago and made its way up to 6th on the Tour's leaderboard. Although the Top 5 seems to be out of reach, Vincent Riou can already be satisfied with their progression so far. « Everyone is happy with his result. We came to the Tour de France à la Voile to try and do our best and that's what we did today », said the skipper. « Billy has been phenomenal all day. It took great starts and we managed the make the most of them ». 

PRB's results have been in progress since Nacra 17 world champion Nacra 17 stepped onboard and took the helm of the Diam 24 in Roses. Offshore sailing and solo round the world winner Vincent Riou knows it and that's why he called Billy. « He told me he never sailed a Diam 24 before so of course there has been some failures, like our crash last week. But let's say this was a training time ! Now he's officially a Diam 24 pilot ! Unfortunately he will be leaving tonight. So in Nice I will try and take one race at a time and put into practice what I've learnt from him ».

Consistency

Tonight the boats are being dismantled to be delivered to Nice and put back together for a Coastal Race tomorrow and the next two days should offer light wind sailing, with less than 10 knots of wind forecast. It will be the last opportunity for CombiWest and Spindrift to shake the podium positions and try to stop Groupama from winning the event. For now, Pierre Pennec and his crew have extended their lead to 8 points over CombiWest. None of these top 3 teams have finished on the podium today, but Groupama and Spindrift have had consistent result leading to equal points on the day's rankings, while CombiWest struggled to find the right pace and finished the day in 9th.« We made a few mistakes today but less than CombiWest and Spindrift so it's a positive day. I like Nice race course as I won two Extreme Sailing Series event there. I think the start will be important and so far we've been good starting upwind, so I am confident. We are a few points ahead and I prefer to be in my position than in theirs, knowing that we are also more consistent than them in our results », said Pierre Pennec after racing.

Act 8 scene 2 in Marseille

July 23rd 2015

A day of stadium racing in solid Mistral

After Marseille coastal race yesterday, Groupama is back in the lead, but with only a three point margin over CombiWest, the podium is still wide open. Today the 28 boat fleet will sail a serie of Stadium races (a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 qualification races + 1 or 2 final).

No seabreeze today on the race course, but a nice 15 knot northwesterly Mistral to offer a fantastic show for the thousands of visitors and holidays makers on Bonneveine beach.

If it's impossible to know the name of the 2015 Tour de France à la Voile winner, we know it will be either Groupama, CombiWest or Spindrift as the podium seems to be out of reach for the next two teams, Grandeur Nature and Vannes Agglo, who are now more than 30 points behind third place. Behind the young corinthian team in 5th is another big margin. « It will be hard to get the top 5 now », said Vendée Globe winner and PRB skipper Vincent Riou « but we always considered 5th place as the best we could do, so we'll be happy if we are not too far from it. Multihull racing is not our discipline. We have a multihull champion onboard (Billy Besson) for a few Acts and we are learning a lot from him. The team has made huge progress and so have I. Since Billy took the helm I can look at him, see the way he works, what is important for him. I will be back at the helm again in Nice and will try and put into practice what I've learnt ».  

Groupama fights back

July 22nd 2015

Groupama takes the lead back from CombiWest

Act 7, scene 1. Just three more days of racing to go and the competition is fiercer than ever. Groupama tops the leaderboard again, with a small three point margin over their rival CombiWest. And this margin between the two race leaders hasn't been so small since Act 2 in Fécamp two weeks ago !

 

The fleet sailed their second last Coastal Race today in Marseille in champagne sailing conditions. Sunshine, hot temperatures, warm water, nice 8-12 knots seabreeze : perfect set-up for a 20 mile long course around Frioul Islands and the west side coast of Marseille, probably one of the most beautiful coastline in the world.

 

At the press conference this morning before racing Grandeur Nature Vérandas skipper Fred Duthil explained the performance level between the teams at this stage tends to even. « At the beginning of the Tour the speed differences were obvious, but it's not the case anymore. Earlier in the Tour, when we were in 15th position, it was quite easy to come back. Now it's much harder. So that means you have to take good starts and have perfect tactics around the course » 

 

Taking a bad start can have terrible consequences when you aim for top positions. Yesterday's Tour leader CombiWest were a bit late at the start and rounded the first mark in 20th position, while Groupama, PRB, Vannes Agglo and Grandeur Nature quickly took control of the fleet. « The wind was quite consistent and the boats were just following each other so it was difficult to make a 'coup' », said CombiWest skipper Fred Guilmin. « But we sailed really well and we worked very hard to make our way back up and finally finish 9th. It's not a bad day. We are in a very positive mindset since Pornichet, so there is nothing wrong there. Sure it's not a good result and we will talk about that tonight, but we are second overall and when we are second, if we pass the first boat, we become first… It's still our objective. But now we don't have the pressure anymore. Groupama has it. And maybe it's best to be hunting than hunted ». 

 

Things could have been worse for CombiWest. In the overall rankings, they lose the leadership but they are only three points behind new leader Groupama, and everything is still possible. The competition is also a matter of state of mind. And after his victory today Groupama's skipper Pierre Pennec feels very strong : « Our team is here to win the Tour de France à la Voile. The crew wants to win it. I want to win it. We are here for that and if we finish second it will be a failure. Tomorrow the wind will be stronger (Mistral wind) and we love sailing in strong breeze, so I hope we can show how good we are in both light and strong breeze ».

 

Today's coastal race also saw a dramatic collision between West Courtage and

La France du Nord au Sud as they were crossing updwind. Aurélien Ducroz and his team have a night of repair ahead of them as the float was severely damaged and prevented them from finishing the race. They are currently waiting the jury's decision regarding a potential redress overall.

 

Act 8 : welcome to Marseille !

July 22nd 2015

Second last stage of the Tour

Final stretch. After a day-off yesterday, the fleet arrived in Marseille, for Act 8. The paddock is set on Bonneveine Beach, where the 28 Diam 24 trimarans are currently being launched for a 20 mile long Coastal Race to start at 1pm local time.

The course will take the boats around Frioul islands in one of the worlds most beautiful sailing area, with a light 8-10 knots seabreeze.

« Today we should have a light seabreeze so we will have to play with the land effects as the breeze won't be very consistent. The Frioul islands aren't very high so we should be able to go around without being stuck in lulls », said local sailor Dimitri Deruelle, crew onboard Maître Coq. « It's very hot here today so we hope that all the sailors that are not used to the heat will be penalised ! »

But after seven Acts and thirteen days of racing, the teams performances are more and more even. « At the beginning of the Tour the speed differences were obvious, but it's not the case anymore », said Grandeur Nature helmsman Frédéric Duthil,. « The competition is fierce. Earlier in the Tour, when we were in 15th position, it was quite easy to come back. Now it's much harder. So that means you have to take good starts and have perfect tactics around the course ».

Last break before the Tour's outcome

July 21st 2015

Let's see how much progress the teams have made so far

The boats are being delivered in Marseille today for Act 8, second last stage of the 2015 Tour de France à la Voile. After nearly three weeks of competition, the crew and the boats are feeling signs of fatigue, and this last day-off is a much welcome break to check, repair and rest before the final strech. But the 28 teams have all made good progress in three weeks, both on shore and on the water…

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roses, le 17 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roses, le 17 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

« I think we are the logistic champions now », says Beijaflore skipper Nicolas Bérenger. « We have made huge progress in dismantling and packing the boat and we can do everything in a bit more than an hour. We are very well organised. Each of us has a well defined job and we can save a lot of time working like that. I think it is key in the Tour. If you are not well organised on land, it's harder to win on the water ». Beijaflore is part of the teams who have slowly worked their way up the leaderboard, going from 8th to 7th, and to 6th since yesterday.

Maître Coq had a nice day yesterday in Gruissan Stadium Racing, scoring three race podiums. And we can expect more good results for them in the next few days, as two of the crew are from Marseille, Christopher Pratt and Dimitri Deruelle. « We have improved a lot since the beginning of the Tour », says Deruelle. « Technically, we have a good boat speed downwind. But upwind, we are a little bit under the boat's potential, so we have to work on optimising the settings and driving. The others are above us for many little reasons. At this stage of the Tour, fatigue is also a key factor, but it is the same for everyone and we can all make mistakes. But when everyone one is in top form, there are about five boats above the rest of the fleet and our objective is to reach the same level of performance ».

This is also Aurélien Ducroz's ambition in the Tour. Double freeride ski world champion is surrounded by two multihull specialists Laurent Voiron and Olivier Backes, and their progress since the beginning of the Tour is impressive. They scored a 3rd in Roses stadium racing and a 2nd in Gruissan coastal race, going from 12th position overall just 5 days ago, to 7th yesterday. « Gruissan was the first coastal course where we had a chance to play with the wind. It's very positive for us, because we didint make any mistake around the course and this is the first time for us. Until now we were always a little behind in terms of boat speed, so that means that now we have a better understanding of how the boat works and that's great. We are going to do our best to keep going up the learning curve. But e have to be careful because everyone is makin good progress. We are all more and more confident so we tend to take more risks, including on the start line. We need to put extra efforts in looking after the boat, sails and gears, and working on the fatigue management so that we keep our head clear until the end of the event. There are still two Acts to do ».

Corinthian young team Vannes Agglo - Golfe du Morbihan has almost always been in the top 5 since the beginning of the Tour, although their results are not the most consistent. One of the two skippers Mathieu Salomon explains why : « I think we were a bit unlucky at the beginning of the Tour. We've had a lot of troubles, like daggerboards breakage after running aground, the collision with PRB... That's why we struggled reaching the top 3, and I think we were frustrated about that. While now I think we are free from this. We really enjoy sailing together. We've worked a lot on being wiser, moderate our . And we are more consistent, and to me consistency is key in the Tour »

First victory for Corinthian young guns Vannes Agglo - Golfe du Morbihan

July 20th 2015

Tight at the top on the Tour's rankings

Two more Acts to go and the rankings have never been so disputed. The first three boats are standing within 13 points and they are almost assured to finish on the podium, as the gap over Grandeur Nature in fourth is now up to 67 points. And only 12 points separate 6th place Beijaflore from 11th Maître Coq. The Tour de France à la Voile leaderboard is wide open.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Gruissan, le 20 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Gruissan, le 20 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

They were eager to cancel yesterday's worst performance on Gruissan coastal course (18th), and they did it the best way they could possibly imagine : by scoring their first victory in the Tour so far. Young Corinthian team Vannes Agglo finished second in Pornichet Stadium racing and have been dreaming of a victory ever since.

« It went really well for us today », said one of the two skippers Quentin Delapierre. « I am very happy with our boat speed and crew work. We also have a fantastic shore crew that have worked really hard to fix all of the boats little hurts. Without them we could not get some rest and perform on the water. So this is a whole team victory. We wanted it so much. Before the last race we said to ourselves that we would have massive regrets if we missed it. So we went for it and gave it all. We took a great start and Kevin is an amazing tactician. Groupama won the final, but they offered us the first race with their big mistake ».

After Groupama's nightmare coastal race yesterday, that cost them leadership, Pierre Pennec had the pressure on. Maybe too much pressure on. In first stadium race, he made an unbelievable mistake… « We went for a third lapse, while there was only two. It's a stupid mistake. A sailing school sort of mistake », admits helmsman Pierre Pennec. «I am so ashamed towards Franck Cammas an Groupama. It's such a pity because we were in the lead. It was like a baseball bat punch. We managed to recover and let ourselves down ». Groupama ended up winning two races and the final and only loses one point overall. « It's almost a new start into the race now. Being five points behind is not much different from being one point ahead. I think the two next coastal races in Marseille and Nice will be decisive ».

Pierre Pennec now also have to keep an eye behind his back, as Spindrift also had a nice day. After their victory yesterday, Xavier Revil and his crew are winning some important points towards the rankings, and they could threat CombiWest and Groupama. « We didn't try anything crazy today », said skipper Xavier Revil, « The wind was so shifty that a bad call could be costly. Some of our rivals have had a terrible day, like Grandeur Nature who ended up in the Silver Final for the first time since the beginning of the Tour. Now they are far behind on the leaderboard and we can focus on the podium ».

Tomorrow the fleet will have a day-off which will be a much welcome break before the last four racing days, in Marseille, and Nice.

 

Act 7 scene 2, Stadium Racing

July 20th 2015

A full day of racing before a much welcome break

After yesterday's incredible scenario in Gruissan coastal race that resulted in rankings shake up, the fleet will sail a serie of Stadium Races in a nice north-westerly breeze 10-15 knots.

New race leader CombiWest, led by french America's Cup sailor Frédéric Guilmin and Match Racing specialist Damien Iehl at the helm, has a four points margin over Tour's favourite Groupama and less than a week before the finish the suspense is at its peak. Will Pierre Pennec and his crew be able to stop his rival from winning the much coveted 2015 Tour de France à la Voile title ?

With another windy day on the agenda, the crew will have to be more careful than ever on the race course. Each crossing or each mark rounding in stadium racing could lead to damage and 'race over' situation. That's what happened to Dynamique Voile yesterday. « I was not onboard », said skipper Emeric Dary, « but the crew was at the pin end of the start line, 20 seconds from the start. They realised they will be early as a strong current was pushing them towards the line, so they decided to gybe. But Poujoulat was next to them and they gybed too, but too late, and crashed into the back of our boat, resulting in a big hole in the float with water coming in. They had to come back in and repair and our shore team worked until 1am last night. We are very disappointed because we are out of the game now in the rankings, now we just have to sail well and be extra careful »

Aurélien Ducroz, skipper of La France du Nord au Sud, had a great day in Gruissan yesterday, scoring his best result so far with a 2nd place on the Coastal Course. But after two weeks of racing and physically demanding conditions, he admits everyone in the team starts feeling tired. « We will have to be more and more careful on the water because the intensity of the race is hitting everyone hard and could lead to making more mistakes. We have to keep our head clear until the end. I think this will be key in the days to come. It was great for our spirits to finish 2nd yesterday. We really enjoy sailing together and it is so rewarding to get good results. We will do our best to keep going well today in stadium racing ».

Tomorrow the teams will have a well deserved day off, the last one before the Tour finishes in Nice on Saturday. 

Incredible scenario just five racing days before the end of the Tour

July 19th 2015

Spindrift wins Coastal Race, while CombiWest tops the leaderboard

It's never over until it's over. The adage is being confirmed today after an incredible coastal race in Gruissan that saw Groupama making a costly tactical mistake resulting in an unexpected change in the rankings.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Gruissan, le 19 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Gruissan, le 19 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

At the end of play yesterday, Groupama was the overall race leader with a 12 points margin over main rival CombiWest. Just a race later, and CombiWest is now leading by 4 points. What happened ? A tricky weather call to make, two different options half way into the course, a big mistake from Groupama, a bit of a poker decision from CombiWest…
« Our objective is still the same : to do well, and let them make mistakes », said CombiWest skipper Frédéric Guilmin about their rival Groupama. He was not onboard today, but helmsman Damien Iehl and his crew did a fantastic job making the right call at the right time, to finish the race in 3rd position. « It's a crazy scenario ! We knew looking at the weather forcast this morning that it wouldn't be easy. We knew the local synoptic wind Tramontana would blow, but there was a slight chance for the seabreeze to kick in, conflicting with the Tramontana. At the mark near Valras, we were behind and we saw the leading pack going offshore choosing the seabreeze option. Groupama was with them. Then we saw Spindrift staying along the coast, chosing the Tramontana option and we went with them. We had nice breeze while the offshore group was going away from the course in lighter wind. And the gap extended. We took a risk and it paid off », said Damien Iehl.
The Tramontana group was led by Spindrift and La France du Nord au Sud. Freeride ski champion Aurélien Ducroz who finished 3rd in Stadium Racing yesterday in Roses, is in top form, scoring his best result so far, to climb up two places in one hit overall, from 10th to 8th. And winner of Roses Coastal Race Spindrift is back in the game for the Tour's title. Skipper Xavier Revil took the helm back from François Morvan today to take this team to victory, and to half the point margin overall, going from 28 to 14 points difference with first position. « To be honnest, we were not so sure about which weather call to make, but when we saw the guys behind us tacking to stay by the coast, we thought it would be better to control the rest of the fleet than following the leading pack without having a chance to pass them… There are still five racing days until the end, so we'll see when we get there. We are very happy with the results. It's so nice to have a great fight when the boat and the crew work are going well ».
Tomorrow for second day of Act 7 in Gruissan, the fleet will sail in Stadium Racing format.

Gruissan, Act 7 scene 1

July 19th 2015

38 mile coastal course

No break for the 28 teams who arrived from Catalonia late last night to put the boats back together and get ready for racing this afternoon.

No champagne sailing conditions today on the water, for the 38 mile long Coastal course that will take the fleet towards Narbonne Plage, Saint-Pierre-sur-Mer et Valras Plage, to start at 1pm local time. The Local north-westerly wind Tramontana, currently blowing 10/15 knots in Gruissan will buid up to 15/20 knots in the afternoon.

Météo France, weather specialist Richard Silvani explains the local wind conditions. « Today we have a nice Tramontana (north-westerly local wind) building up to 20 knots average with potential gusts to 26/27 knots. The sailors will have to be careful. Two days ago, the weather models were showing a light sea-breeze, but what we call the synoptic wind is actually going to be too strong for the sea-breeze to quick in, so the wind direction will be north-westerly all day ».

After one day of stadium racing in Roses that saw two capsizes and a collision, the coastal race today will be one again physically demanding for the crew. Australian sailor Chris Evans, who stepped onboard Team OZ just two days ago for the rest of the Tour, was thrilled but exhausted after racing yesterday : « We saw 21-22 knots boat speeds. It was amazing ! But we're too old ! (laughs) The most difficult thing in strong wind is strength and speed on furling and things like that. For me coming from a Melges 32 center drop into a Diam 24 where the furling never stops ! And also going around the bottom mark just organising everything on. It's hard for three people ».

CombiWest wins Act 6 in Roses

July 18th 2015

A drama and action packed in Roses with two capsizes and a collision

It was a crazy day on the water today in Roses, Catalonia, with thrilling 25 knots gusts delivering the most physically demanding racing in the Tour so far. Two boats capsized : Made in Midi, in the qualification races, and Sobedo, in the Gold Final while leading the fleet for a podium position ! And PRB crashed into Vannes Agglo, forcing the two boats to retire from the race 3. But Combi West was enjoying the strong breeze. They won three races today finishing the day in top position to win their second Act in a row after Les Sables d'Olonne. Groupama's lead overall in now down to 12 points, and with six more racing days to come until the end of the event, anything can happen.

« We took a great start in the final and we had a nice lead over the rest of the fleet », explains Moana Vaireaux, Sodebo trimmer. « We are disappointed because we could have avoided it. We eased the gennaker too late. We were so happy to be going fast and leading. It's a supid mistake. But we are happy with the first part of the day because we sailed well in strong breeze. » Luckily no one got injured in any of the capsizes and collision. The teams will just have a fix a few gear failures and breakages tonight. But it will be a race against time as the boats are being dismantled tonight to be delivered to Gruissan for Act 7 to start tomorrow morning. « It was physically very demanding today and now we need to rest. We will arrive in Gruissan late tonight so we will have a look at the weather forecast while driving up north. I think the most important tool in the Tour is the 12V-220V converter to use the computer in the car ! », said CombiWest skipper Fred Guilmin in a laugh.

 He was all smiles when he came back to the paddock after racing. Fred Guilmin and his crew were in top form today on Roses race course. « We are so happy. It was beautiful. We sailed well. We can feel the progression and it feels great. We are going to try and keep winning races. We are still far from Groupama overall (12 points) but we are getting closer and I hope they start being anxious about it. Our objective is still the same : to do well, and let them make mistakes ».

 Groupama skipper Franck Cammas was onboard today for the last time, as he heads to Portsmouth tonight for the America's Cup World Series. « Twelve points lead is not much. It was difficult today and we haven't sailed that well. The crew configuration was new, but I trust them to finish the Tour as well as they have started it ».

 Also to note the fantastic performance of Normandy Elite team who scored two race victories and a second place today, finishing second of Roses Stadium Racing day. « I am so happy », said skipper Charles Hainneville. « We had solid breeze, but it was not too bad. We've hard worse before. It's always nice to finish in front of boats like Groupama ». Free ride Ski champion Aurélien Ducroz also had a great day onboard La France du Nord au Sud, finishing third of the day and scoring his best result so far : « The conditions were a bit like in Roscoff and that's what we love ! Our helmsman Olivier Backes is amazing at the helm in strong breeze, with a great precision downwind. We also had goog starts, good speed. It's a great day for us as we enter the top 10 overall and that was our objective. Now we have to stay in there ».

 

Same boats, different order

July 17th 2015

Top five boats overall finish in Coastal Race top five positions.

These five teams are in competition for a place on the 2015 Tour de France à la Voile podium. Groupama, CombiWest, Spindrift, Grandeur Nature and Vannes Agglo have substantial point margins between them, but with seven days of racing still coming up, there is everything left to play for.

Spindrift won the coastal race in Roses today, the Tour’s first race on the Med. François Morvan and his crew were eager to cancel their frustration after Act 5 in Les Sables where they didn’t get the results they were hoping for (7th and 9th). « We are back in the game », said Spindrift helmsman. « In terms of points, it’s not that flash as we only gain two points over Groupama, but it’s still good to win. We know they are sailing really well, without making any mistake, when we have pay for ours for a while ! It was a good fight with Combiwest today. They passed us 4 or 5 miles from the finish. But we passed them back upwind. We know we can sail well on the Med ».

The fleet didn’t have the sailing conditions they were expecting today, with lighter wind and fog in the southern part of the 35 mile long course that took the boats down south to round Medes Island, and back in the Bay of Roses, in Catalonia. « It was strange, with movie like ladscapes in the south near the island. The water was white near the rocks, whilst there was no wind around… It was absolutely beautiful, but I think it was better not to go there. And that was the key moment of the race. We decided to go offshore and take the risk to do more distance, but it paid off because then we were like rockets downwind », said CombiWest skipper Frédéric Guilmin.

Groupama finished third despite an average start. They only lose one point over their biggest rival, second overall, CombiWest.

Young guns of Vannes Agglo are going really well in Coastal Racing format. Third in Les Sables d’Olonne on Tuesday, they finished fourth today in front of their main rival on the Tour’s leaderboard, Grandeur Nature.

Behind the top 5 boats, the next positions are highly contested, with only eight points separating 7th Beijaflore from 10th Maître Coq. And some teams results have improved in the last few Acts. PRB finished 6th, their best position since Pornichet. Vincent Riou welcomed fresh Nacra 17 world champion Billy Besson at the helm today and for the next two Acts. « It took me a while to have the boat in hand, as I could not find the best angles. The level is very high on the Tour, it’s incredible to be part of it. The boat is a bit heavy and it doesn’t fly and but accelerations are nice. Coming from a lighter cat, I struggled to find the pace. To go fast, it works in two steps : first you find the speed, then you find your heading. I was looking for the angle straight away and it didn’t work », said Billy Besson. His Nacra 17 crewmate Marie Riou was also sailing today in Roses. She stepped onboard Sodebo as a tactician and we stay in for the rest of the Tour all the way to Nice.

Tomorrow the fleet will sail in Stadium Racing Format right in front of Roses Marina Pier to offer a great show to the crowd.   

Perfect day for CombiWest

July 15th 2015

Five podiums in five Stadium races for Damien Iehl

CombiWest had the most consistent results today. They won the final race after two thirds and two seconds in previous races. Damien Iehl, who was at the helm today, took his team to victory in the last Stadium Races day on the french west coast. Groupama maintains his overall leadership with a second place, while Prince de Bretagne takes third.   

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Les Sables d'Olonnes, le 15 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Les Sables d'Olonnes, le 15 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

The fleet waved goodbye to the Atlantic seaside with a serie of Stadium Races today in Les Sables d’Olonne. In perfect sailing conditions, north-westerly breeze 12 to 15 knots, he competitors sailed three qualification races, with two finals for the best 14 boats and one final for the others.

Damien Iehl and his crew on CombiWest ended the day brilliantly with a victory after four podium finishes earlier in the afternoon. « We are delighted ! What a day ! We were always in the game. Even when we did not have good starts, we managed to come back. It’s so nice to cross the line so close from the spectators. Gaining one point over Groupama is always nice, but we have to admit they are quite far ahead on the leaderboard. We don’t want to think about it too much. We just want to sail well and avoid mistakes. We are a small team, with only four sailors so every time there is a crew change, it still works ». CombiWest also takes advantage of Spindrift’s misfortune to widen the margin over their rival, going from 3 points to 11.

It was definitely an underwhelming day for Spindrift who scored two victories but finished 9th of the first final and got disqualified in the second for being too early on the start line under black flag (with PRB and Vannes Agglo). Helmsman François Morvan was very frustrated : « it hurts. We don’t have the overall results yet but it’s going to be bad. The crew is going well but I keep making some stupid mistakes that are very costly ».

The performance of the day was from Prince de Bretagne and Armor-Lux, who scored their best result so far, respectively 3rd and 4th of this day of Stadium Racing. « Yesterday we finished 5th in the Coastal Race, and 4th today, so we are very very happy », said skipper Erwan Tabarly. « It’s a great progress and it’s a great moral booster for us before heading to the Med tomorrow. When we take a good start we can play an equal game with the best teams. Now we have to keep this momentum. We are getting more confident and we enjoy sailing together, so I think we are on the right track ».

Last day on the west coast.

July 15th 2015

Stadium racing in Les Sables d’Olonne

For their last day in the Atlantic waters, the Diam 24 fleet will sail in Stadium Racing format in Les Sables d’Olonne. The teams left the Vendée Globe pontoon in Port Olona this morning for one ‘inside race’ (with VIP guests onboard / Zero scoring), in light wind.

 

This afternoon the sea breeze should quick in from 2pm and offer the fleet great sailing conditions with north-westerly wind 10-15 knots building up with gusts 18/20 knots.

 

After their victory on the Coastal Race yesterday, Groupama consolidates their leader position. Franck Cammas and his team are now 19 points ahead of CombiWest, who retrieves the second place at the expense of Spindrift and Grandeur Nature. 

Cammas is back !

July 14th 2015

Groupama wins Coastal Race in Les Sables d’Olonne

The 28 teams are now half way into the Tour de France à la Voile. They have sailed four Acts and there are four more to come in the Med. The Sables d’Olonne stage is the Tour’s turning point. And after a full Act in the colours of Spindrift in Roscoff, Groupama is back in the winning mood. They snatched victory today in the last Atlantic Coastal Race, consolidating their leader position overall. CombiWest crossed the finish line in second place, while Corinthian team Vannes Agglo – Golfe du Morbihan scored a third podium since the beginning of the event.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Les Sables d'Olonnes, le 14 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Les Sables d'Olonnes, le 14 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

The fleet crossed the start line early afternoon a light west-north-westerly breeze 5 to 7 knots. And the first boat on the line was : Team OZ. The Australian crew skippered by Rod Waterhouse was in top form today and is improving Act after Act, although their result three hours later is below their expectations. « We started off with a great start », said Rod « but then we missed the top mark. We came quite late and had a bit of a problem but we came back on the run down and ended up mid-fleet so we were happy, but on the beat back up we were doing well but we pushed it too far inshore and went in the rocks. We made one mistake and that was it for us. But it was still fun, we had a great day and we definitely get to handle the boat now. We are getting better. The difficult thing is that when we are focused on the boat speed, we are not focused on the navigation. It’s one or the other. But now our boat speed is getting better and we are feeling more confident ».

 

Spindrift was another unlucky crew today. After taking the lead of the fleet before the top mark, François Morvan and his team got stuck in a lull… « After tacking just before the first mark, we could not bear away because we would have crashed into the other boat, nore luff. We got stuck. I tried to keep going straight ahead, but Vannes Agglo behind had to bear away and protested, so we had a penalty. Then the race was over for us. We ended up in 22nd position. We are very disappointed even though we did well catching up and finishing 7th ».

 

Corinthian Team Vannes Agglo took the benefit of Spindrift’s penalty to lead the fleet with Groupama for most of the race. But one mistake and two top professional teams against them cost them victory, as Quentin Delapierre explains : « Groupama was very fast and putting pressure on us, they managed to pass us but we kept second place until we hit a rock badly. We could not lift the daggerboard. Luckily it happened at the end of the race ». CombiWest passed the young team to cross the finish line in second position, three minutes behind winner Groupama. Skipper Franck Cammas who stepped onboard the Diam 24 in Roscoff for the next two Acts, snatched a great victory to consolidate their leader position overall. « We did a long beat along the shore to avoid the strong current and we had to do many many tacks. But we are good at it. Better than our rivals. So we passed a few boats. I am lucky to step on a boat whose crew is already sailing very well. We made some mistakes but maybe less than the others, and that’s why we win »

 

 

 

 

Act 5 in les Sables d’Olonne

July 14th 2015

Last stop on the Atlantic seaside before the Med

Half way mark into the event. The fleet have completed four Acts and they have four more coming up in the Med, les Sables d’Olonne being the last stop in the Atlantic and a turning point for the 28 teams in competition. 

Les Sables d’Olonne is renouned to be the start and finish of solo non-stop round the world race Le Vendée Globe, that saw the victory of PRB skipper Vincent Riou in 2005. « The Sables harbour channel is part of my history. I’ve started sailing on big boats here and I took the start of the Vendée Globe a few times, with a victorious finish ten years ago. It’s always nice to be here. With the Tour’s new format, the public can watch the race from the beach and it’s fantastic to see some sailors from different disciplines gathered together in the same event ».

An amazing line-up

July 13th 2015

Focus on the best sailing results

Today is a day-off on the Tour de France à la Voile. The 28 trimarans have left Roscoff (North Brittany) by truck this morning for a 450km drive to Les Sables d’Olonne, famous to be the start and finish of non-stop solo round the world race, the Vendée Globe.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Dunkerque, le 04 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Dunkerque, le 04 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

Some of the Tour’s skippers and crew have sailed around the world. Some others have won olympic medals, or taken part in the America’s Cup and top international races.

Let’s see who’s done what.

Below is a selection of the best results in the most important sailing events.

OFFSHORE RACES VICTORIES

5 - Jules-Verne Trophy

Franck Cammas, Lionel Lemonchois, Xavier Revil, Loïck Peyron, Seb Audigane


1 - Volvo Ocean Race

Franck Cammas


4 - Route du Rhum

Franck Cammas (Ultime), Lionel Lemonchois (Ultime puis Multi 50), Loïck Peyron (Ultime)

1 - Vendée Globe

Vincent Riou

2 - Barcelona World Race

Bernard Stamm, Loïck Peyron

3 - Velux 5 Oceans / Around Alone 

Bernard Stamm x3

3 – The Transat

Loïck Peyron x3


4 - Solitaire du Figaro 

Jérémie Beyou x3, Nicolas Lunven


7 - Transat Jacques-Vabre

Franck Cammas x3, Jérémie Beyou, Vincent Riou, Sébastien Rogues


4 – Transat AG2R La Mondiale

Kito de Pavant, Lionel Lemonchois, Bruno Jourdren, Erwan Tabarly


4 – Québec – Saint-Malo

Loïck Peyron, Franck Cammas, Antoine Carpentier x2


2 – Record de l’Atlantique Nord

Xavier Revil, François Morvan


AMERICA’S CUP


6 - PARTICIPATIONS


Frédéric Guilmin (4 participations)
Dimitri Deruelle (1)
Loïck Peyron (1, and one in progress)
Thierry Douillard (2)
Damien Iehl (1)
Mikael Mergui (1)

OLYMPIC SAILING

Medals and finalists


Olympic Games


1 – GOLD - 2 .4 serie 2004 Athens Paralympic Games (Damien Seguin)
1 – SILVER - 2.4 serie 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games (Damien Seguin)
1 – SILVER - Sonar - 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games (Bruno Jourdren)
1 – 4th in Sonar 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games (Bruno Jourdren)
1 – World Championships Sonar 2014 (Bruno Jourdren)
1 – 4th - 470 (Mathilde Géron)
3 – 4th - Tornado (Pierre Pennec, Laurent Voiron, Olivier Backès)
1 – 4th – 2.4 serie 2012 London Paralympic Games (Damien Seguin)
1 – 5th - Laser (Félix Pruvot)
3 – participations (Xavier Revil, Dimitri Deruelle, Pierre Leboucher)

World Championships

11 – ORMA World Champion (Loïck Peyron (4), Franck Cammas (6), Mathieu Richard (1))
3 – Tornado World Champion (Pierre Pennec, Laurent Voiron, Olivier Backès)
3 – 2.4 World Champion (Damien Seguin)
2 – Nacra 17 World Champion (Marie Riou and Billy Besson, three times)
2 – Tornado World Nb 1 (Xavier Revil x2)
1 – Class C World Champion (Franck Cammas)
1 – 470 World Vice-Champion (Pierre Leboucher)
1 – Tornado World Vice-Champion (Jean-Christophe Mourniac)
1 – 49erFX World Bronze Medal (Julie Bossard)
4 – Formula 18 World Champion (Matthieu Vandame, Olivier Backes, Arnaud Jarlegan, Jean-Christophe Mourniac)
1 – Hobie Wild Cat World Champion (Emeric Dary)
(2 – freeride skiing World Champion (Aurélien Ducroz)

And many junior world and Europe championship titles


MATCH-RACE
Worlds podiums


1 – World Champion (Thierry Douillard)
1 – World Vice-champion (Mathieu Richard X 2)
2 –World Match Racing Tour Victories (Damien Iehl, Mathieu Richard)



Spindrift takes a spin

July 12th 2015

Second victory in a row for helmsman François Morvan

Despite a collision with Prince the Bretagne in last race, that prevented them to finish, Spindrift is the champion of the day after winning the first four races. They move the ranking to take second place overall, behind Groupama whose skipper Franck Cammas was onboard today. 

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roscoff, le 12 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roscoff, le 12 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

Is it the place ? Or is it the crew ? Or simply a bit more luck ? One thing is for sure, Spindrift is in a positive spin. After their victory yesterday in the Coastal race, they snatched another win today in stadium racing format. « It’s strange to end the day with a collision. We win after the jury’s call, because we could not finish the race. Before that, everything was perfect. We took good starts, we were always in the right spot on the race course. Sometimes everything goes well, until someone crashes into you. That’s what happen », said helmsman François Morvan, who only stepped onboard yesterday. « It’s a bit frustrating but we had a big margin. We only had to finish the last race in the first 11 boats to win the day. We knew we were in the right. At the first mark, Prince de Bretagne arrived behind us and tried to avoid us but crashed into our rudder. We could not steer the boat anymore. The fact that Franck Cammas was onboard Groupama did not put extra pressure. Pierre Pennec did so well since the beginning of the Tour that it was hard to do any better. It’s not surprising to see them finish second today. But we are going to keep holding on and fight hard ».

 

A maximum of ups ans a minimum of downs

 

No real change for Groupama after a day of Stadium Races in 15 knots of wind. They are comforting their leadership by one point, scoring four podium finishes in five races. Team skipper Franck Cammas was onboard today, after competing in the Nacra 17 World Championships in Denmark. He will sail with the crew in Les Sables d’Olonne and in Roses, before heading to Portsmouth for the America’s Cup World Series. « There has been a few little problems. We ran aground at low tide going out of the marina so we had to change the daggerboard and one rudder… Then it was hard to focus again. We haven’t been very good, except maybe in the last race, where we sailed very well. I tried get back to it and find my marks, but it’s not easy because everyone here has been sailing on the Diam 24 for more than a week. We have to keep an eye on Spindrift, but also on CombiWest and Grandeur Nature. There are going to be ups and downs until the end. We just need to have a maximum of ups and a minimum of downs ».

 

« Here to learn »

 

After 10 days of racing in the Tour, all teams have founds their marks on their Diam 24 trimaran and some of them are starting to shine on. La France du Nord au Sud, led by ex-ski champion Aurélien Ducroz, had a great day today in Roscoff. They finished ahead of the qualification races in their group, after a victory and a second place. « I think we took benefit of our good night sleep last night. It’s the first one since the start. And of course, we are progressing well. In Pornichet, we started to perform in stadium racing format. Today we took more risks and it paid off. We are very happy with our day and with this serie of consistent results. It was windy today. We are still lacking a bit of speed, and we are going to work harder in coastal races. But we only sailed three days together before the start of the event. My objective is to learn. Performance comes second. My crew Laurent Voiron and Olivier Backes are fantastic and I learn a lot with them, as they are both multihull specialists. There is a great atmosphere onboard. In strong breeze, the boat goes fast and it reminds me of skiing, when we round the marks… It looks like a nice long skiing curve and I have a lot of sensations onboard. I love it ! »

 

Tomorrow the fleet will have a day-off to pack the boats and drive them to Les Sables d’Olonne, for Act 5, last stop on the Atlantic coastline, before heading to Roses, in the Med.

« The Tour is a human journey »

July 12th 2015

The mag

Olivier Gandon is the shore crew, boat captain, logistic advisor, truck driver and translator for Team OZ, only non-french team in the 2015 Tour de France à la Voile. He assembles the boat, strips it down, fixes it when needed, packs it in the trailer, drives from one venue to the other, but he also books the hotels, advises the crew on places to visit… in one word, he is Team OZ’s nanny. 

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roscoff, le 12 juillet 2015. © Morgan BOVE / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roscoff, le 12 juillet 2015. © Morgan BOVE / ASO - Morgan BOVE / ASO


« I was supposed to do the trip with Oman Sail, and when they took the decision to not go, Alex Pallu, one of their french crew, living in Australia, suggested they could rent it to an Australian team », said Olivier. « In the end Alex did not come because he found a full time job on Commanches, an Australian Maxi, but he suggested Rod Waterhouse who wanted to rent the boat, and visit the french coast ?  So they offered a ‘package’ including me ».

Sixteen Tours

This is not Olivier’s first Tour. He started in 1998 and only missed one edition since then. All the teams he worked with finished in the top 5 or 6. For many years, he was a shore crew for Défi Partagé Marseille led by Dimitri Deruelle and when their campaign stopped he was offered a full time position with Oman Sail, who finished third overall last year. He knows almost everyone and everything about the Tour de France à la Voile and Team OZ couldn’t dream of a better person to support them on land. « They are only four sailors for the whole Tour. They came with their partner/wife who all help as shore crew, but coming from such a long way away, they also want some time to visit the different venues. They are all good sailors, but they just wanted to enjoy this experience without any pressure of results. It’s the first time I work for an Corinthian team ».

« I just love it »

And with this year’s new format, Olivier has a lot on his plate. « There is so much to do on shore, unpacking, assembling, disassembling, packing, and sometimes fixing, like in Fécamp where I had to do some carbon work on the daggerboard. It’s a lot for just one man and it is very tiring after four Acts. I’ve called Oman to send another guy, who is going to help me in Pornichet and Roscoff. After that, we’ll see. I will do my best on my own ». Olivier loves his job. And he loves DIY, full stop. But most of all, to him, The Tour is a human journey. « Every year I say it’s going to be the last, but every year I am back. When I was told in April that Oman Sail would not compete, I was shattered. Sure this is tiring, but the itinerant lifestyle, going around the country, and meeting new people… I just love it ! »

Winning the Tour on land

Team OZ is clearly not here to win, but they are wishing to do well and enjoy themselves. « The first time they sailed on this boat was in Dunkirk two days before the start, so they won’t do miracles. But if they perform, they could go home with a big smile and come back next here to do it again in a more professional way. I would love to see more foreign teams here, but if they want to win, I think they need to include some french people who know about the event. I remember that a few years ago, an Italian team, Farr 30 world champions, did the Tour. At the beginning, they won everything. But then after a while, they got tired and messed it up on the technical front, on land. That is the specificity of the Tour. This is the only sailing event that lasts one month and moves to different venues every second or third day. To win it, you have to be the best on the water and on land ».  

Stadium Racing in solid breeze

July 12th 2015

Roscoff, Act 4, scene 2.

We are now one third in the Tour and the 28 teams are preparing for another day of Stadium Racing, this time in solid breeze. The south-westerly wind is forcast to reach 20 knots this afternoon, offering the boats a chance to sail a maximum of races. After two ‘inside races’ (VIP guest - scoring 0) at 10am and 10.30, the fleet will be divided in two groups, to compete in a serie of qualification races (minimum of 2, maximum of 4 for each group), leading to the finals.

Overall leader Groupama will welcome skipper Franck Cammas today, in Les Sables d’Olonne and in Roses. After sailing in the Nacra 17 Worlds in Denmark, he’s stepping onboard the Diam 24 trimaran. « It’s great to have him join the crew », said helmsman Pierre Pennec. « When he came in Lanvéoc Grand Prix, we won, so even if he hasn’t sailed much on the boat, he can adapt very quickly and he is very demanding, so it makes the crew progress. He won so many regattas, inshore and offshore. When I skipper a boat I also ask the crew to excel, so this time I am the one that have to excel. Last night we were supposed to train for 20 minutes, and we trained for 1 hour and a half. I think he’s the one who has the pressure on, as the media expect a lot from him, but he loves that ».   

 

Groupama is 18 points ahead of CombiWest and Grandeur Nature overall. After 10 days of racing in the Tour, all the teams have found their mark. And some are really improving. « We are in a good momentum. We finished 10th in the Coastal Race yesterday and we hope to confirm this performance today. We are looking forward to it. Kevin is resting and Quentin will be at the helm », said Emeric Dary, skipper of Dynamique Voile, currently 16th overall.   

Sprindrift wins Coastal Race in Roscoff

July 11th 2015

Their first win since the beginning of the 2015 TFV

François Morvan, Thierry Douillard and Frédéric Moreau score their first victory in today’s 35 mile long coastal race in Roscoff, after 3 hours and 30 minutes of racing. They led the fleet for most of the course, racing neck and neck with Groupama in the last few miles. Grandeur Nature takes third place. 

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roscoff, le 11 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roscoff, le 11 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

« We’ve been waiting for this victory ! » said helmsman François Morvan. « We are only one third of the event, so we still have the time to try and reach the podium and threaten Groupama ! We were relieved to see the finish line as Groupama was right behind us. We had less speed upwind, but we managed to hold on to our position thanks to our stategy and team work. I was my first day at the helm of Spindrift so I didn’t have the time to take my marks. Thierry Douillard, our tactician, never stopped keeping an eye on the rocks ».

The coastal course was set along the coast of North Brittany, famous for its countless rocks and tricky navigation. But as opposed to Act 2 coastal race in Fécamp, none of the Diam 24 damaged their daggerboard by going too close from the shore. A westerly breeze was blowing 10-15 knots today in the area offering nice sailing conditions. In the first third of the course, around Batz island, three boats took the lead and broke away from the rest of the fleet : Spindrift, Groupama and Grandeur Nature, whose skipper Frédéric Duthil is very happy with their performance : « we were in the top three boats but after going out of the channel of Batz island, we had a little problem with one of our rudders and we lost touch with Groupama and Spindrift, but we fixed it and finished the race no problem. It’s a great result. A 3rd place on a Coastal race is worth a lot. We have a good speed, and a good team work with Pierre-Yves and Tim ».

Overall, Groupama keeps its leadership. And behind, the competition is getting tighter. CombiWest is still second but has lost its point adventage over Grandeur Nature. « We don’t want to put pressure on ourselves regarding the overall ranking. What we want is to keep progressing and to keep building up from what we started three weeks ago, because we only got the boat three weeks ago. We are just going step by step and give our best every time. We hope we can reach Groupama et Spindrift’s level by the end of the Tour ». said Fred Duthil.

Sprindrift wins Coastal Race in Roscoff

July 11th 2015

First win for Spindrift in the 2015 Tour

François Morvan, Thierry Douillard and Frédéric Moreau score their first victory in today’s 35 mile long coastal race in Roscoff, after 3 hours and 30 minutes of racing.
They led the fleet for most of the course, racing neck and neck with Groupama in the last few miles. Grandeur Nature, take third place.

Welcome to Roscoff for Act 4

July 11th 2015

Coastal race in North Brittany to start at 1pm

Today the fleet will sail a 36 mile long course from Roscoff, around Batz island, towards the Bay of Lannion, and back to the Bay of Morlaix.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roscoff, le 11 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Roscoff, le 11 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

A westerly breeze 10-12 knots is currently blowing on site and is forecast to build up to 15 knots tonight and shift south-westerly tomorrow building up to 20 knots.

After a week of racing, the competitors have completed one third of the Tour and many of them are changing crew onboard, bringing some fresh blood to their team.

New day, new races, new winners

July 10th 2015

Combiwest and Vannes Agglo triumph in Pornichet

They are still the Tour’s leader, but today they gave the way to others teams. Groupama did not snatch any race victory and finished third after five races. They had consistent result and end the day on equal points with first and second, CombiWest and Vannes Agglo, but the competition is tough in the 2015 Tour de France à la Voile.

Two wins and a second place in five races were enough for CombiWest to be the top team of this day of Stadium Races in Act 3. Fred Guilmin and his crew were not intimidated by Groupama’s domination in the last few days.  « It’s our first victory and I hope it’s the first of a long serie », said the skipper. « We’ve been looking for it for a while and now we have to maintain our position. Groupama was dominating until now, but today we managed to keep up with them. Living in La Baule, I know the race course very well. I know where the wind goes, where we can be faster. It was hot onboard today, looking for puffs. Honnestly, in this kind of weather, there is a part of luck ».  

 

The breeze was light and shifty this afternoon in Pornichet, and the crew had to work hard to follow the wind moves. And Corinthian team Vannes Agglo did really well today. They snatched one race victory and finished the day on equal points with CombiWest and Groupama. « It’s been a great day, although it was more tricky than yesterday », said co-skipper Quentin Delapierre. « It was not easy mentaly, but we stayed ahead. We could have won the last race but we got a penalty. Nevermind, we were consistant. We have to be very careful because everything can change on the last tack ».

 

Anyone can win a race in the Tour, and that’s what ski champion Aurélien Ducroz did today. Skipper of La France du Nord au Sud took his team to win the  Gold fleet Finals in front of the top sailing names. « What a tough day ! A whole day on the water scratching our heads because one time, it pays off inshore, the next it works better offshore. It was tough to get to the finals. We had to fight hard. And once we got there, we had no pressure on, so we took a risk and it paid off. The boat goes well in light wind. It’s great to end the day with a victory, in front of the best teams of the fleet. But when we see how consistent CombiWest, PRB or Groupama are, we know we are not there yet. But it’s still nice to go and play with them ».

 

It was also a great day for Team OZ. Although the only non-french team of the fleet has won a race yet, their results just keep improving. They finish the day in 16th position, and second of Silver fleet. « It was a beautiful day on the water, a lot warmer, which suited us », said skipper Rod Waterhouse. « We just learn the boat bit by bit and he seems to go faster and faster. We are getting more comfortable with our moves. We are not behind everybody but right in the middle, so we are happy with that. The changes are very fine, but things like rig tension, sail shape… It sounds very basic, but it’s very fine and we are learning. We are just finding out that these fine setting make the difference. We’ve learned the hard way but we are improving. We now definitely want to make the Gold Fleet and we got very close today, but our starts are not the best and once again we haven’t had enough practice with these boats so we are very conservative and don’t want to make a mess of anybody else. I think as the regatta progress we’ll start making better starts, and you will see us, hopefully, keep moving up the leaderboard ! »

 

Tomorrow the Tour will be in Roscoff, north Britanny for Act 4.

Act 3, scene 2 : Pornichet Stadium Racing

July 10th 2015

What’s on today

Not a cloud in the sky, 25°C, east-south-easterly breeze 10/15 knots… We couldn’t really expect anything better for a day of Stadium Racing. 

The Diam 24 trimaran fleet has been launched from the beach this morning to sail two ‘Inside races’ (IP guest races - no scoring). Then at 11.30 the 28 boats will be divided in two groups to sail a series of Qualification Races, which lead to the Finals later on today.

After their victory yesterday, the third over four racing days, Groupama will aim for another win to put under its belt, but the competition will be tough. In Fécamp, a few teams proved they could perform in stadium racing format.

3rd victory in a row for Groupama !

July 9th 2015

Pierre Pennec and his crew win Act 3 Coastal Race in Pornichet

They crossed the finish line more than 5 minutes ahead of second boat Beijaflore. Pierre Pennec, Arnaud Jarlegan and Quentin Ponroy snatched victory hands down in the 32 mile long Coastal Race in the Bay of Le Pouliguen. Their third win in a row since the beginning of 2015 Tour de France à la Voile.  

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Pornichet, le 09 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Pornichet, le 09 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO


Groupama was fast on the water today. They took a good start, showed faultless team work, and read the course perfectly. « Our boat is very powerfull, and our speed was well above the others, even though the level is very tight », admits skipper Pierre Pennec after the race. « I know why we are fast, but I am not going to tell you because I don’t want the other teams to know. Quentin Ponroy prepared the navigation with our coach, Maxime Paul. He was comfortable with the currents, headings and depths. All I had to do was to drive the boat with Arnaud Jarlegan. Tomorrow the stadium racing will be harder, with 11-12 knots of breeze coming from the land. It will be tight. »

 

With a third win over four days of racing, Groupama is inflicting a psychological blow on their rivals. But Nicolas Bérenger, skipper of Beijaflore, is not overly impressed. « I think Pierre Pennec is bluffing about their speed. I don’t think he really knows why they are so fast. But we know why we are not as fast as him. We are not multihull specialists, as opposed to them, so we are still learning. And we are very happy with our day today. We are improving race after race and our efforts are paying off ». Nicolas Bérenger competed in the Tour de France à la Voile more than ten times, and his experience could play in their favour. « I did the Tour many times, but my teammate Fabien Henry won it five times, so he knows all the playing grounds very well ».  Beijaflore scores its best result so far and climbs up the leaderboard, from 11t to 7th.

 

With another podium position today (3rd) Spindrift is getting closer from Grandeur Nature on the Tour’s leaderboard. « There is still a long way to go on this Tour, and we are in the game. We are on the podium at the finish of the coastal race and that’s what we wanted, so we’re a happy with our day », said skipper Xavier Revil.

 

After nearly a week of competition, the crew are finding their marks with their new Diam 24. Only non-french team in the line-up, Team OZ also scored their best result since the beginning of the event (19th). Rod Waterhouse, Brett Dryland and Evan Darmanin are going up four ranks in one hit overall, going from last place to 25th.

 

Tomorrow will be the second and last day in Pornichet, and the fleet will sail in Stadium Racing format, right in front of the beach.

First qualification race will start at at 11.30.

Welcome to Pornichet

July 9th 2015

Act 3 begins with a Coastal Race

The teams arrived in Pornichet (south Brittany) yesterday, and the shore crew started to put the boats together on the Paddocks. They will be launched from the beach this morning for a start early afternoon.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Pornichet, le 09 juillet 2015. © Morgan BOVE / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Pornichet, le 09 juillet 2015. © Morgan BOVE / ASO - Morgan BOVE / ASO

Due to light wind, the race comittee delayed the start to 1.30pm (instead of 11.30am), waiting for the sea breeze to build up. South-westerly breeze 2-4 knots should turn westerly and reach 6-10 knots in the afternoon.

The boats will sail a 32 mile long coastal course in La Baie du Pouliguen, between la Pointe de Chémoulin (St Nazaire) and Le Croisic.

Originally from Le Pouliguen, French sailing legend Loïck Peyron will bring his multihull experience to 30 Corsaires, currently in second-last position on the leaderboard. He will take the helm from Alexia Barrier, happy to have two days off and rest : « The Tour lasts 3 weeks so it’s important to allow ourselves a break. I’ve called Loïck to ask if he wanted to sail on our boat and he said yes. It’s as simple as that ».

Loïck Peyron, a special guest for Act 3 in Pornichet !

July 8th 2015

Route du Rhum winner to sail onboard 30 Corsaires

Loïck Peyron will be in Pornichet on Thursday and Friday to compete with 30 Corsaires, led by Alexia Barrier in the Tour de Fance à la Voile 38th edition. The french sailing legend from La Baule will bring his multihull experience to the team for the coastal and stadium races.

Baie de Quiberon le 19/06/2014 - Première navigation de Loïck Peyron à bord de son trimaran Le Ptit Jaune en vue de la Route du Rhum 2014.
Photo © Jean-Marie Liot - www.jmliot.com
###
Baie de Quiberon 19/06/2014 - First sail onboard Le Ptit Jaune for Loic
Baie de Quiberon le 19/06/2014 - Première navigation de Loïck Peyron à bord de son trimaran Le Ptit Jaune en vue de la Route du Rhum 2014. Photo © Jean-Marie Liot - www.jmliot.com ### Baie de Quiberon 19/06/2014 - First sail onboard Le Ptit Jaune for Loic - JEAN MARIE LIOT

Loïck Peyron has a long win list under his belt, but most of all, he has a real passion for multihull sailing. The Jules Verne Trophy holder and winner of 2014 Route du Rhum, who is also part of the Artemis campaign for the next America’s Cup, will join 30 Corsaires for two days in Pornichet, to do what he loves the most : sailing fast and fighting hard on the water.

« I am delighted to have the chance to sail with Alexia, Louis and Bill and find out about the Tour’s new racing format. I’ve been following the event on the Internet since the start and I think this new version of the race is very interesting. It’s a great idea from Yvan Griboval to have small and fast multihulls competing in short races, on a coastal course or in a stadium format, to make it a great show. The Diam 24 trimaran is the perfect boat for this. The line-up in fantastic, in terms of quality and quantity. We will try to play our cards right ».

The coastal course (start at 12.00 on Thursday) and the stadium racing (Friday from 11.30) will be set right near the beach in the Bay of La Baule, in front of the race Village, that is located boulevard des Océanides, à Pornichet.

 

A day of stadium racing in Green and White

July 7th 2015

Groupama wins today’s Stadium Racing and tops the Tour leaderboard

After five short races on Fécamp’s race course, Groupama finishes leader of the day and leader overall. Spindrift takes 2nd in Stadium Racing and Grandeur Nature 3rd.  

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Fécamp, le 07 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Fécamp, le 07 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

After sailing in light wind yesterday along the cliffs of Normandy, the 28 teams competed in Stadium Racing format in solid breeze. The south-westerly wind 10-15 knots this morning turned westerly throughout the day building up to 20 knots with gusts reaching 25. The racing was fast and furious, with short, sharp speed races that left all the teams exhausted.

Groupama’s experienced crew led by Pierre Pennec, multihull specialist whose sailing background includes a 2nd place at the helm of Gitana in the 2011 Extreme Sailing Series, won two of the five races today which takes him to lead the day of Stadium Racing in Fécamp et tops the Tour leaderboard. « It’s a great day for us. We won and we take the lead overall. That’s what Groupama came for. We’ve reached our first goal. Now the second one is to keep the lead until the end. It’s not going to be easy because the competition is tough » said helmsman Pierre Pennec.

Three other race favourites were on top today for the second and last day of racing in Fécamp. Grandeur Nature, winner of Dunkirk’s coastal race, lost their leadership but confirmed their ability to win races. « It’s very tight. A tiny mistake on the layline, on a gybe or in the positionning downwind cost a lot » said Frédéric Duthil, skipper of Grandeur Nature Vérandas. « In the finals last race, we got stuck and crossed the finish line in 6th position. At times, positionning in more important than speed. This is part of the stadium racing techniques that we need to get. We have to anticipate the bottom mark roundings. But today was a good day because now we know we can do also well in this racing format ».

After their average performance in the Coastal race yesterday, Spindrift showed great skills today on the water with consistent results. « We are very happy with our second place today, which takes us to 3rd overall. We needed to react and perform well after a disappointing 14th place yesterday. Last night the team had a good debrief and everyone talked a lot. It’s good to see the strong bond in the crew », said skipper Xavier Revil

The strong wind conditions on the race course led to a few crashes. No major damage, but a few discussions in the jury room. At the bottom mark in race 3, the rounding was tight and CombiWest crashed into West Courtage. « We were in the right », said skipper Frédéric Guilmin « as Vinci did not leave enough space for us to avoid West Courtage. So we got redressed, and we are still in the game overall. We are lucky to have a good shore crew to fix the damage tonight ».

FLASH INFO :

July 7th 2015

Groupama wins today’s Stadium Racing and tops the Tour leaderboard

After five short races on Fécamp’s race course, Groupama finishes leader of the day and leader overall. Spindrift takes 2nd in Stadium Racing and Grandeur Nature 3rd.

Pierre Pennec and the sleep management

July 7th 2015

Mag

Although the Tour does not include offshore legs and nights at sea, the pace is high and the sailors have to manage their level of fatigue over the three weeks of racing. Pierre Pennec, helmsman and tactician onboard Groupama, aims for victory and tells us how he deals with stress and tiredness on the water.

« No one has ever fired me for that, but I always have to justify myself to managers and coachs », says Pierre Pennec with a smile. « I’ve done this since I was little when I was racing Optimists, and later on 420 and even on Tornado ». For him, sleeping is the best way to rest and mend. « Sleeping is more efficient for well-being than a fifteen minute run. When I sleep after a race, it helps keeping my head clear. I remove any confused thought and only keep what’s necessary ».
It might appear like a strange technique, but it works. Pierre Pennec finished 4th in the Sydney Olympic Games on Tornado, with his team mate Yann Guichard, two years after winning the ISAF worlds. He also won the Tour de France à la Voile, competed in the America’s Cup World Series with Aleph, and sailed on various boats… And he is now officially Franck Cammas’s deputy…
« We are only about 5% of the whole Tour, and with such an intensity in the event, the stress and fatigue management will be key. We need to be able to relax quickly, have a laugh, but also to not let ourselves down because we have to wait an hour on the water for the wind to kick-in. If we stayed 100% focused all day, we would be exhausted ».



Stadium Racing : Bing it on !

July 7th 2015

What's on today ?

Same place, different conditions. The fleet is still in Fécamp, Normandy, but after sailing in light wind yesterday along the coast, the 28 teams will compete in Stadium Racing format in strong breeze. 

The south-westerly wind 10-15 knots this morning will turn westerly throughout the day building up to 20 knots with gusts reaching 25-30 knots at the end of the day.

The first race of qualifications will start at 11.30 local time for the ‘yellow group’ (for Stadium racing, the 28 boat fleet is split in two groups, yellow and grey)

After the stadium racing day was cancelled in Dunkirk due to light wind, the teams now have the chance to score points in this format.

« It’s going to be full-on today », said Pierre-Antoine Morvan (Souffle du Nord). « We have to sail nice and clean. Until now we have been really good on the start line, so it’s a bit of a concern for us. We’ll try to get better. In stadium racing, we never stop tacking and jibing, and our team work still needs to improve. We all sailed on Diam 24 before but not together. The first time we sailed this boat together was on the first day of the Tour ! But there is still a long way to go ».

Groupama wins Coastal race in Fécamp

July 6th 2015

Grandeur Nature Vérandas leader of the overall ranking

After an amazing tacking battle at the bottom of the cliffs, Pierre Pennec and his crew onboard Groupama win the coastal race of Act 2 in front of CombiWest, and West Courtage Ecole Navale. Race leader Grandeur Nature Veranda finishes 4th and keeps the leadership.

It was a beautiful day on the water with champagne sailing conditions. But the fleet could have done with a bit more wind. The south-westerly breeze died off around midday and the sea breeze took a while to kick in. The start had to be delayed and the 28 boats finally crossed the start line at 14h42.

 

Helmsman and tactician onboard Groupama, Pierre Pennec tells us about the race : « On the way down to Etretat, we had the tide against us, but it was weaker near the coast, so we stayed on that side for a while before going offshore with the rest of the fleet, as we didn’t want to take big risks. Before the mark, the wind was very unsettled in strength and direction, but we made some nice jibes. Then on the way back we had a nice tacking battle and again we made really nice tacks. We passed West Courtage and we were making ground over Combi West. It was full-on match-racing with them at the end ».

 

Pierre Pennec is no stanger to this race course, having previously sailed on the ORMA circuit in Fécamp. But to him, the advantage on the water was mainly due to team work. « I think in the second part of the track, coming back to Fécamp, we were above the other teams in terms of manœuvers. We made very nice tacks and made ground meter by meter, whilst minimizing the risks ».

 

Second place goes to CombiWest, who did an excellent race, leading the fleet most of the way. The team who finished 12th in the first Coastal Race in Dunkirk is still satisfied with their result. Damien Iehl, helmsman and tactician onboard, admits they still need to improve. « We were a bit disappointed when Groupama passed us, but we had a great fight with them and we finish not far behind. They sail really well and they are multihull specialists. But we’ve watched them a lot to try to get better »

 After their 14th place in Dunkirk, WestCourtage takes third step of the podium today. A great performance for Simon Moriceau who surprised everyone on the finish line, as they were not positionned on the online race tracker.

 Overall, Grandeur Nature Veranda stays at the top of the leadership, in front of Groupama and… Vannes Agglo Golfe du Morbihan, one of the six Corinthians teams in the fleet, who seems to be very consistent since the beginning of the Tour.

 

Tomorrow the fleet will compete in a series of Stadium Racing regattas, in stronger wind conditions.

 

QUOTES OF THE DAY :

 

Pierre Pennec (Groupama)
"Tomorrow will be a windy day and it’s great for is because we won the only stadium race in Dunkirk with one reef in the main, so we are looking forward to it."

 

Frédéric Duthil (Grandeur Nature Véranda) 
"The weather conditions at the start were a bit stressfull because we could have lost a lot over the other competitors. But we placed ourselves well in the middle of the pack. We could have taken more risks, but we chose to play it cool. We round the bottom mark 10th, but we were faster to build some speed after each tack and we passed a lot of boats. We feel confident for the rest of the event."

 

Damien Iehl (CombiWest)
"We had to play with the coastal current and wind and going to close, we hit the ground twice, and lost a few meters. We’re lucky to only have small damage on the daggerboard."

 

 

 

 

Flash news

July 6th 2015

Groupama wins Coastal race in Fécamp

After an amazing tacking battle at the bottom of the chalk cliffs, Pierre Pennec and his crew onboard Groupama win the coastal race of Act 2 in front of Combi West, and West Courtage. Race leader Grandeur Nature finishes 4th.

Welcome to Fécamp

July 6th 2015

Act 2 of the Tour de France à la Voile

The fleet left Dunkirk last night for two days of racing in Fécamp Normandy.
The twenty-eight Diam 24 are going back in the water this morning, in the marina (not from the beach), where they will be moored on a pontoon for the duration of Act 2.



The start of the Coastal Race has been delayed to 2pm due to weather conditions. The wind is currently blowing west-south-westerly 5 knots and will die off around midday before the seabreeze kicks-in early afternoon.

The course will take the fleet to Etretat along the astonishing chalk cliffs.

The tide coefficient being high (93), the competitors will have to deal will a strong current.



Two local skippers, Arnaud Daval and Charles Hainneville will have the home-advantage.

Charles Hainneville (Normandy Elite Sailing)
« I’ve never sailed much in Fécamp but we’ve already been on recce along the cliffs. We know the wind will be stronger at the bottom of the cliffs. When relief is so high, there could be massive wind variation, in strengh and direction.

Coming from Formula 18 and Nacra 17 is a good experience for us. But it’s also about crew coordination and gear management. On the first coastal race in Dunkirk, we’ve had problems of water in our floats, so we hope it’s been fixed. Our objective is to top the Corinthian leaderboard. But the race is long and anything can happen. The logistic aspect will be key too because yesterday it took a long time to dismantled the boat, pack, hit the road, then put the boat back together and launch it this morning. The shore crew are getting tired and we will have to manage fatigue over the next three weeks ».


Arnaud Daval (Techneau)
« Our team is not as experienced as Charles’s, but we’ve sailed a lot on multihulls. It’s difficult to set ourselves some objectives for now. We would love to finish in the top 3 in the Corinthian ranking, but there is still a long way to go. We have to stay the distance. This race is not only for sprinters but for marathon men ».

Unsettled weather prevents the fleet from scoring points

July 5th 2015

The Tour 2015 now moves to Fécamp, for Act 2

They have spent the day on the water to sail in Stadium racing, but in the end, none of the races they’ve started will count towards the ranking. In the new racing format, the competitors have to sail a minimum of two stadium races in one day to score points. And unfortunately today, for the last day of racing in Dunkirk, the wind only allowed them one race.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Dunkerque, le 05 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Dunkerque, le 05 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

A 11.30, after the VIP sailing with guests onboard, the first of the two groups took the start of the qualification race. The wind on the race-course was blowing 15/20 knots but a few minutes earlier the fleet saw a gust up to 25 knots which force the race committee to call for a reef in the main. Winner of the coastal race on Friday, Grandeur Nature Vérandas had a good start but blew the gennaker at the windward mark and had to retire from the race : « the gennaker got stuck and we could not finish », explains Tim Mourniac. « We went straight to the beach to try and get a new one so we could do the second race, but in the end we waited all day under the rain for nothing. But it’s good. It cancels our mistake. The Gods are with us, and we can keep the blue gennaker of the race leader ».

 

Groupama, PRB and Combiwest were the three first boats on the finish line. During the race the wind started to die and before the start of the second group of boats, the committee called for full mainsail again. Prince de Bretagne took the win in front of Normandy Elite Team and Spindrift. « I am happy to know that they have sailed well, although it is frustrating to miss a few nice points », admits skipper Lionel Lemonchois, who was onland to watch the race. « It’s only the beginning of the Tour and we will have to keep going. We have a great team ».

 

The forecast initially had very light wind on the plate for today, and it was not a suprise the see the wind die off and to leave the fleet with nothing but rain and lightnings. After a long wait on the water, the race committee decided to cancel the racing and send the Diam 24s back to the beach at 4pm so that the teams have enough time to dismantle the boats, pack everything, and drive to the next stage of the Tour Fécamp, 300km down the coast. « It is the first time we are going to do that. For that, the pace is not too tight, mais but we know it’s going to get harder because there is still a long way to go. Now we have two hours of packing, then 3 hours of driving and again 2 hours to put the boat back together. It’s going to be a long night for our shore team », says skipper of Souffle du Nord, Antoine Carpentier.

 

Next stage : Fécamp, with a Coastal Race on Monday and Stadium Racing on Tuesday.

 

QUOTES :

 

Brett Dryland, co-skipper of Team OZ

 

« We’re happy this day doesn’t count towards the ranking because we finished second last. But for us, it was still a good day of practice. There are so many little things we have to learn. Like taking a reef in the main. It was the first time for us. And we didn’t quite understand we had to do it. It took us a while to figure out how to do it properly but Rod and Evan did really well, and I was at the helm. Now we have a long night ahead of us. Packing everything, driving to Fécamp, and put the boat back together again. I am looking forward to tomorrow and to see a new place ».

 

Guillaume Le Brec (PRB) : « We are not frustrated. That’s what sailing is all about. The race committee did everything they could to start another race, but the weather was not on our side today. Things happen. We had a very nice coastal race on Friday and we are happy to see we are in the game. We’ll keep improving. There is a great atmosphere in the team, we are having fun on the water. Hopefully it will last all the way to Nice ».

Yanmar, seamanship

July 5th 2015

A nautical tradition

As a main partner of the 38th Tour de France à la Voile, Yanmar had been taken with the race’s new format. Jean-Marc Reynaud, President of Yanmar Construction Equipment Europe S.A.S and vice-president of Yanmar Construction Equipment Co. Ltd has come to Dunkirk to share his passion.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Dunkerque, le 04 juillet 2015. © Morgan BOVE / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Dunkerque, le 04 juillet 2015. © Morgan BOVE / ASO - Morgan BOVE / ASO

Why did you chose to support the 38th Tour de France à la Voile ?
Jean-Marc Reynaud : « We decided to support the Tour de France à la Voile for two reasons. Firstly, for the long history between Yanmar and the yachting. It started in Asia with fishermen and it goes on in Europe with pleasure-boating and in particular sailors amongst which we have a good reputation. The second reason is that we found within the Tour de France à la Voile a unique platform to nurture the relationship with our distributors. From France, we are managing 160 distributors from 37 countries, and thousands of clients. The Tour de France format, in July over 9 host cities is the perfect opportunity for us to get closer from them and to invite them to share a moment with us aay from our daily routine. It’s a great time for them and for us.

What is the connection between Yanmar and pleasure-boating ?
Jean-Marc Reynaud : « We make inboard diesel engines mainly for pleasure-yachts. Two years ago, we bought Vetus, a company specialised in deck equipment. The client database is the same : yacht owners and boat rental buisinesses. We want to offer solutions to every sea lovers we are going to meet around France during the month of July. 

What so you think of Act 1 in Dunkirk ?
Jean-Marc Reynaud : « I am very impressed by two things : the quality of the organisation, which is a typical french know-how : we’re good in logistics ! and people enthusiasm. There are already crowds of people on the Village and I know that as we go down south, we will have more and more people. 

Before the 2014 Paris Boatshow, you simply wanted to support a Diam 24 and in the end, you went bigger… Why ?
Jean-Marc Reynaud : « Have you seen the gennakers on the race course in Dunkirk ? It’s wonderful for us to see our colours in the wind and in beautiful weather conditions. And we like one-design sailing, because it’s ideal to maintain the suspense and I love the fact that Corinthian sailors can race against sailing top names. This is the essence of the Tour de France à la Voile and that always created beautiful stories. A good crew can win a couple of races but in the end, only the best of them, the specialists, will win the event. And it’s great to see a mix of sailors coming from different horizons. We have some montain guys, some pure corinthians, and even an Australian team. Team OZ is actually a nice recognition for the Tour because Australia has a very strong sailing culture. I would bet that longer term, in four or five years, we will see more top level international crew coming on the Tour.




Yanmar product and service

- Agriculture (including in Asia)
- Industrial power and engine Products
- Marine Pleasure and Marine Commercial

Sunday 5th July: Stadium Racing

July 5th 2015

Second day of competition in Dunkirk

Second day of competition in Dunkirk and it’s a day of Stadium Racing. The fleet of the Tour de France à la Voile will be split in two groups and have four 20 minutes long races each, with qualification legs and finals. After the racing the boats will come back to the beach and be trailed to Fécamp for the next stage of the Tour 2015.

Quotes at 9am before racing

Bernard Stamm (skipper Cheminées Poujoulat) :
« It’s new and I like it because it’s nice and fast. Everything goes so quick. The start is very important. This is our weakness but we are improving. Decisions have to be made quickly et we need to have a good coordination onboard. There is a lot o things to think of at the same time. And what makes it difficult ».
Mathieu Richard (tactician onboard Engie) : « On these little courses of just 15 minutes, the most intense moment is the start because you know that the first mark rounding will be critical. It is always a tough moment, you have to elbow your way through to be in the right place. Analysing the race course before the start can help, and little set-up can make the difference. For the rest, it’s a sprint from the beginning to the end ».
Achille Nebout (tactician onboard Made in Midi) : « These 20 minutes racing formats are very much like what we have in olympic sailing, but shorter. We are used to windward-leeward races but I wouldn’t mind having a bit more trimaran experience, and the starting experience of match racers, with their abilities to play with the rules »



On the water

Act 1, day 2 : stadium racing in the font of the beach of Malo-les-Bains
11.30 – 15.30 : Qualifications for yellow and grey groups
16.00 – 17.00 : Finals for Gold and Silver groups

On land
11.00 : Entertainment Village opens
17.00 : Diam 24s coming back to the paddocks 
18 .00 : Price giving on stage
19.15 - 20.00 : Concert by Lorina, with Collectif Electro
20 - 21 : Concert InnerChimp Orchestra
21 : Draw for the PassK'do
21.15 - 22.00 : DJ ICO and his musicians

A day of exhibition sailing as a warm-up for tomorrow’s first stadium races

July 4th 2015

There were crowds of people today on the beach of Malo-les-Bains.

The Diam 24s were all sailing today in Dunkirk although the results won’t count towards the overall ranking. With guests onboard, these exhibition regattas were a way to get into the swing of tomorrow’s first Stadium races.

There were crowds of people today on the beach of Malo-les-Bains. Despite the variable weather and the threat of thunderstorm, the air was warm and the first week-end of the summer holidays has already gathered thousands of visitors on the Race Village, to experience the new version of the Tour de France à la Voile.

 

Good practice

On the water, the fleet was divided in two groups to sail three stadium races, with a first start at 11am. No stake in the rankings, but a perfect opportunity to practice before the Tour’s first official stadium racing day on Sunday. Some teams have competed in the pre-season events and they’ve had time to perfect their teamwork, but others have only recieved their boat a couple of weeks or even days ago. « Today was a learning day because it was the first day of the stadium racing so everything was a bit franctic for us to start with, but we just took our time and in the last race we sort of got most of it together. We’re definitely getting faster. We’re learning all these little tricks and watching the other boats to see how they’ve set up different things so it’s all good. We’re getting better », explained Rod Waterhouse, skipper of Team OZ.

 

« Everyone has a chance to win a race »

Coming back on the paddock after racing, the only non-french team in the fleet is excited about the new race format… and realistic about where they stand and what they have to work on : «we are very fortunate today didn’t count towards the ranking because it was an opportunity to train. It’s an extra day to catch up. I think the racing format it great because there is always another race to get better and that’s what I love about the stadium racing. You’re never out of it. The beauty of it is that almost everyone has a chance to win ».

 

Multi skilled

But what will it take to lead the ranking overall and win the event ? « Team work, set-up and good starts », says the Australian skipper. Looking at yesterday’s results on the coastal race, it appears that multihull experience can also make a big difference. According to Fabien Henry, previous winner of the Tour, now tactician onboard Beijaflore Sailing : « The winners onboard Grandeur Nature Verandas are Formula 18 specialists and they are doing well. They could be an outsider. And those who have sailed a lot on Diam 24 too. Match-racing specialists have an advantage on the stadium races. And of course knowing the race course can help too ».

 

It might be the reason why the Tour 2015 has attracted sailors from all horizons :

olympic sailing, multihull sailing, martch-racing, offshore racing… All of them bringing a different experience to their team and offering them a chance to win. But in the end, what will pay off will be consistency. « You have to avoid making mistakes and being stuck at the back of the fleet, because it costs a lot. If you can finish races in the top 5, you will be fine at the end of the day », admits Fabien Henry.

 

And while Act 1 of the Tour de France à la Voile is in full swing in Dunkirk, the cycling Tour kicked off today in Utrecht, Netherlands…

 

Daniel Souben : « I am the last winner of the historical version »

July 4th 2015

His interview

He won the Tour three times as a skipper, including the last edition onboard Courrier Dunkerque. As a specialist of the event, he tells us about how he is adapting to the numerous innovations of the 2015 Tour de France à la Voile.

How is it for you to sail on the Diam 24 ?
D.S: I was not worried about going from one hull to three, but we didn’t know which boat would be designated for the Tour. We had tests on the Diam 24, the reability has been reinforced and now we are sailing on a simple boat, reasonnably cheap and technicaly interesting. It’s a great find !


How does it feel onboard ?
D.S: It’s definitely a multihull feeling : with a minimum of wind, you can take off very quickly and have a great sensation of speed. That’s what the multi is all about. Monohulls are more about the tactics, about the satisfaction of having a nice upwind leg.

This Tour is a french sailing moment and a revolution at the same time… What do you think about it ?
D.S: The only thing that remains from the Tour de France à la Voile as I won it is the duration : three weeks. We know how to deal with that and it is key in this event. Now we also have to improve over those three weeks. Some teams are better than others to deal with fatigue and mood changes, and that’s why they can climb up the leaderboard in time. The new race format is interesting. Now we have to get used to it. We know about the coastal races because they are similar to the offshore legs we used to do, but shorter. Now in the stadium races, we have pools, with two qualification races and the finals, and it’s all about speed. Very new for us, and very exciting.


There is a part of hazard in the stadium racing ?
D.S: Yes, specially with the fact that the race course will be so close to the shore. The coser you get from the shore, the more variable the wind is. We’ve already experienced that in the pre-season events. It is part of the game. But over the whole duration of the Tour, there won’t be any big surprises. The best teams will be in the lead. And since a coastal race is worth as much as a full day of stadium races, it’s a good balance.


Do you consider yourself as the title holder ?
D.S:
No, I am the skipper of the boat that won the last Tour de France à la Voile in its original version. It was a good year to win it. Now it’s a new race. The new version brings together sailors from different disciplines, coming from beach catamarans, olympic sailing, match racing and offshore sailing. 

What do you think about bringing the race closer to the public ?
D.S: Of course we want our sport to be recognised and that is only possible with the public. This is also what our partners want. Mine in particular (Sodebo), since they sell their products directly to the public. If we had stayed offshore as it was previously, we would have ended up losing our sponsors. Offshore sailing can be strong when there is an adventure aspect, so for the Tour it was a positive move to get the sailing closer to the public.

From Downunder…

July 4th 2015

Team OZ is the only non-french boat in the line-up

Team OZ is the only non-french boat in the line-up, and is part of the six Corinthian teams of this year’s Tour de France à la Voile. They are not here to win and they clearly don’t have the same means and experience as most campaigns. Nevermind. In a typical laidback Aussie way of life, Rod Waterhouse, Brett Dryland and Evan Darmanin just want to do their best and enjoy themselves.

Everything is new for them: not just the boat and the racing format, but also the country and the language. “We come from Palm Beach, Pittwater, in the Sydney Northern Beaches. We have never done this race before and luckily we’ve got Olivier, our boat captain, who’s done the Tour four of five times before, so that helps” says Brett Dryland, co-skipper with Rod Dryland. “Rod was the one that was more in the sailing circles and he suggested we have a look at the Tour de France à la Voile. All the allocations got snapped up really really quickly, it was probably three or four months after the opening of the entry list and everything was gone, so we thought it was not going to be this year. But we had our name on the waiting list and Oman had a last minute conflict in their sailing and we got hold of Nico Honor from Oman and it worked out well for both of us. Basically he’s done all the logistics for us”.

They might have never sailed on a Diam 24 trimaran before (their first time on the boat was Wednesday), but they are all cat sailors, having competed in various Hobie Cat events and championships across the word.
“There is an event that we did long distance, small cat sailing which started with hobie 16. It’s the Worrell 1000 in America, which was a non-stop 1000 mile race in little Hobie 16s and it changed over the years and kind of got softer. But that type of racing was really great and I think it’s in our blood. Of course we know the Tour de France à la Voile is not long distance anymore but it’s a one month long event and it will be intense. We are happy to compete and be part of and we have no real expectations in terms of results”.

Team OZ is a bit of a family affair.
In Rod’s family, everyone sails. His son, Jason Waterhouse, is a professionnal sailor and is now the helm onboard the Extreme 40 Red Bull Sailing Team in the Extreme Sailing Series. His nephew Evan Darmanin will be doing the Tour with him and Brett Dryland all the way to Les Sables d’Olonne (in the Med, Chris Way will stand in for him). And their partners, Kerry, Sam and Clare are helping them on land, doing the shore crew jobs.“We are mainly self-sponsored and we sailed the Diam 24 for the first time two days ago. Of course it was kaos!” admits Brett Dryland. “But we’re here to learn and it’s going to be really exciting”.

 

Saturday 4th July : what’s on

July 4th 2015

The fleet is leaving the paddock this morning

The fleet is leaving the paddock this morning to be launched from the beach of Malo-les-Bains. The teams and their Diam 24 will compete in a few exhibition stadium races from 11.00 to 15.00, welcoming VIP guests onboard to show them what the Tour 2015 is all about, but the scores will not count towards the ranking. 

Grandeur Nature Vérandas grabs the first win of the Tour 2015

July 3rd 2015

Spindrift finished 2nd and Corinthian team Vannes Agglo 3rd

Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Tim Mourniac and Pierre-Yves Durand win the first race of Act 1 in the 38th Tour de France à la Voile. They crossed the finish line of the coastal race off Malo-les-Bains (Dunkirk seaside) at 16.39 after more than four hours and a half of racing. Grand Nature Vérandas led the fleet most of the way to take the win one minute in front of Spindrift, with Corinthian team Vannes Agglo – Golfe du Morbihan finishing third just 31 seconds behind !

- © JEAN-MARIE LIOT / ASO

They were not part of the pre-event favourites, having taken possession of their Diam 24 just two weeks ago. Their skipper Fred Duthil was not even onboard today, as he chose to accompany the team sponsors on the water to watch the race. Yet the multihull specialist (F18, Tornado, ORMA60) Jean-Christophe Mourniac and his crew seemed to have no trouble leading the fleet for most of the 45 mile long first coastal race. With his 17 year old son Tim (5th in the F18 world championships) at the helm and Pierre-Yves Durand (beach catamaran specialist) trimming the front sails, Jean-Christophe took the lead during the long upwind leg towards Belgium in front of the pre-event favourites Groupama, Spindrift and PRB. And they never lost it, crossing the finish line in first to grab the win.

After their win in the Grand Prix Atlantic in April, Spindrift’s second place on the podium was more expected. In a north to north-easterly breeze 10/15 knots and a beautiful sunshine, the fleet had the perfect conditions to perform. And the other nice performance of the day is the one of Vannes Agglo – Golfe du Morbihan. Quentin Delapierre, Matthieu Salomon et Kevin Péponnet are not professionnal sailors, and they’ve just finished in front of top teams like Groupama, PRB, Sodebo, or Combiwest. But their third place is not really a surprise looking at the early season’s results. Vannes Agglo finished second overall in the Normandy Sailing Week in June and in the Grand Prix Guyader in May. And the youngest crew of the fleet (22 years old average) already has an impressive sailing background, with many titles in dinghy sailing french, european and world championships.

The opening race of the Tour’s new format was a huge success, with crowds of people watching the show from the beach, specially when the fleet was gybing and crossing downwind towards the finish line or reaching 17 knots of boat speed.

Tomorrow the teams will have a break in the competition, with three zero scoring exhibition races.

Quotes of the day

Jean Christophe Mourniac (Grandeur Nature Vérandas) : « we knew the job because that’s what we do in Formula 18, but on a longer course. It’s an amazing feeling to round the most offshore mark in first. Then we increased our lead downwind. My son at the helm was very very good, so was Pierre-Yves at the navigation. And I’ve put the pressure on everyone !! (laughs). It’s a great start, and it’s fantastic for us, for the sponsor, and for our skipper Frédéric Duthil who had been fighting like mad for the last few months to make ths happen. We had a very very good start and it was a nice game against Spindrift and Groupama ».

Xavier Revil (Spindrift) : « It was a beautiful day to open the Tour, with sunshine, nice breeze and beautiful pictures. It was a great fight from the start to the finish and it was hard physically with a long course and a lot of manœuvers. Now we will try to have a rest to keep being on top in the next few days. There no real surprise. PRB is a good team but they are not the only one. The competition is very tough ».

Matthieu Salomon (Vannes Agglo – Golfe du Morbihan) : « We are pretty happy with our result today. We didn’t perform that well at the start, as we got stuck behind and crossed the line amongst the three last boats. But then we managed to climb up the fleet and towards the end we were faster than Groupama and PRB in pure boat speed. We’ve had ups and downs since the beginning of the season but it’s great to fight with some of the best sailors. We are aiming for victory in the Corinthian ranking, and a spot in the first five teams overall would be great ! »

Grandeur Nature Vérandas takes the first win of the Tour new version

July 3rd 2015

Fantastic win of an outsider

Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Tim Mourniac and Pierre-Yves Durant win the first race of the 38th Tour de France à la Voile.

They crossed the finish line of the coastal race off Malo-les-Bains (Dunkirk seaside) at 16.39 after more than four hours of racing. The team, who was not part of the pre-event favourites, led the fleet most of the way to take the win two minutes in front of Spindrift, and Vannes Agglo – Golfe du Morbihan.

Let the show begin !

July 3rd 2015

First race today at 12.00

The competitors have started to launch their boat from the beach of Malo-les-Bains just after the skippers briefing this morning at 8.30. They are getting ready for the very first race of this 38th Tour de France à la Voile that will start at 12.00.

« It’s a bit like going to the unknown for us », said Bernard Stamm, skipper of Cheminées Poujoulat. « It will be interesting to see how we stand amongst the fleet. We need to be more consistent so our objective in this race will be to avoid making mistakes ».

The first and only race today will be a 45 mile long coastal course towards Belgium. « We will be racing with the tide coming in and we will have to deal with the currents, but the conditions are good. It will be nice to have Damien Seeten onboard today. He is Joe Seeten’s son and he is a local so he knows the area very well », said Bertand Pacé, team manager of Dunkerque Voile.

How to follow the race

On site

The stadium racing format was specially created to bring the boats and the show closer to the public. The set up of the stadium racing includes massive 2.5m floating marks with flags on top so that the public can identify the start line. Onboard the eight boats from the race organisation, speakers will broadcast the commentary from a journalist on the water close to the action. Different jingles will be played for each boat at the start, mark roundings and finish. Each team also have their own song played from the paddock when they are launched and on the podium for those who have the chance to climb it.

On the Internet

The offical website www.tourvoile.fr will offers all the tools to follow the race live. The coastal races will be covered by a 2D tracking system and the race video production team will broadcast the last 45 minutes of the race live on the main screen in the village and on the Internet. The stadium racing will be covered by the 2D tracking for the qualification stages, and 3D with live images for the finals.

Understanding the racing format

July 2nd 2015

How does it work?

Tomorrow the twenty-eight Diam 24 fleet will start the first race of the Tour de France à la Voile 2015. They will be launched from 7am on the beach of Malo-les-Bains for the start of a 45 nautical mile long Coastal Race at 12.00. New boat, new concept, and new racing format.So how does it work?

For the first time since its creation in 1978, the competitors will not sail from one venue to the next. No more nights offshore sitting on the rail! Instead, they will launch the boat in the morning and bring it back on the Paddocks / pontoons at the end of racing, whether it is a coastal race, or a day of stadium racing.

There will be nine Acts, three in the English Channel, two on the Atlantic side and four in the Med. In each venue, the competitors will have two days of sailing, except for Dunkirk and Nice where there will be an additional day of zero scoring exhibition races on July 4th and 26th.

- Day 1 of each Act

A Coastal Race(start at 12.00):these races will showcase iconic points along the French coastline as the Tour de France à la Voile has always done. The starts and finishes will take place in the same town, close to the shore, so that the public audience can really feel part of these decisive moments. In the same vein, the distances will be set according to the weather conditions, so as to be able to host a late morning start and a late afternoon finish.

Christophe Gaumont, race director: « the coastal races will be short and intense and very important for the scoring system. They are worth as much as a full day of stadium racing. And it will be difficult because the crew won’t have much electronics onboard, except a GPS system for positionning the boat and the marks ».

 

- Day 2 of each Act

Stadium Racing(start at 11.30): the races will take place off the natural grandstands (jetties, beaches, seafronts...) with a PA system so that the public can fully enjoy the on-the-water show throughout the day. The pace will be extremely intense, with very short, close-contact races (around 20 minutes) one after the other in quick succession with live commentary and musical accompaniment.

The fleet will be split into different groups (2 or 3 according to the weather conditions) and each Stadium Racing day will be divided into two phases:

         A ‘qualification’ phase: a minimum of two races per group and up to four, according to the weather conditions.
         A ‘final’ phase: at the end of the qualification phase, the day’s intermediary ranking will be drawn up, enabling the boats to be split into different “Finals” (Gold final, Silver final, Bronze final). The number of finals will be decided according to the weather conditions.

The day’s ranking will take into account all the day’s races from a minimum of two validated races. The “Gold Final” Teams will be competing for the day’s top spots, those from the “Silver Final” will be battling it out for the runners-up places, etc.

The winner from each day of races will receive the maximum number of points, the second will have this number-1, and so on in descending order through to the person in last place.

Christophe Gaumont, race director: « In most teams, the crew will be the same on both the coastal races and the stadium races. They have chosen crew members who can work well together and master the boat, instead of tactics specialists. From a tactical point of view, Stadium Racing requires the same skills as the Coastal Races. And the key will be consistency, because they can win a lot in one day, or lose a lot ».

The rankings

The leaders in each category will have a gennaker of a different colour:

  • blue for the overall ranking
  • pink for the corinthian ranking
  • green for the coastal ranking
  • red for the technical ranking (stadium racing)

And there is a total of 900 points to win from Dunkirk to Nice, 50 per day.

 

The weather forecast tomorrow in Dunkirk predicts a NNE wind from 7 to 10 knots early afternoon, increasing to 15 knots towards the end of the day and turning NE.

 

Quotes :

Frédéric Guilmin (CombiWest) :“The Tour in its current format is a new challenge that I’ve taken on since last January, so of course today we are looking forward to the start, as we’ve done all the pre-season events. We did quite well, we’ve worked hard and our efforts will start paying off. We are hoping to start well because there is a long way to go and it will be intense. We cannot wait”.

Nicolas Bérenger (Beijaflore) :“We are feeling good. We will know on July 26th in Nice if we were ready or not, but I am not stressing. I just want to enjoy it because it is a great event. We’ve been talking about it for a long time so let’s go”

Brett Dryland (Team OZ):“Our team is a bit of a family affair as we are self sponsored and we are here to learn. We’ve sailed the Diam 24 for the very first time yesterday and of course it was kaos, but it’s really exciting!”

Daniel Souben (Sodebo): “We’ve been doing the Tour for a dozen years so we know the playground of the next three weeks. But it is a year of change with a new boat and a new racing format so a lot of things to learn. It’s a total discovery and we’ve worked very hard last winter and we are happy to start and fight”

Heat wave in Dunkirk

July 1st 2015

Close-up on the two local teams from Dunkirk

 The beach of Malo-Les-Bains (Dunkirk’s seaside) was bustling with activity this Wednesday. A major part of France was hit by a heat wave, and crowds of people came down to the beautiful and endless sandbeach that stretches towards Belgium to get a chance to cool down in the water and enjoy the nice south-easterly breeze that was reaching 15 knots. The conditions were perfect to train on the race course, two days before the inaugural race of the Tour de France à la Voile. For its 29th edition, the popular French sailing event introduces a brand new format with the Diam 24 trimarans that are now all gathered in Dunkirk.

Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Dunkerque, le 01 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO
Tour de France à la Voile 2015, étape de Dunkerque, le 01 juillet 2015. Photo © Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO - Jean-Marie LIOT / ASO

Two local teams are part of the 28 entries in this year Tour de France à la Voile.

Dunkerque Voile, skippered by Loïck Féquet, with Dunkirk born America’s Cup specialist and eight time winner of the Tour de France à la Voile Bertrand Pacé, as a coach/manager. And Souffle du Nord, skipper by Antoine Carpentier, with a part of last year’s champion crew from Courrier Dunkerque.

 

Onboard Dunkerque Voile, a majority of the crew is made of young sailors from Dunkirk and the team’s objective is to train young sailors to top level racing. Seven sailors will take turns onboard the Diam 24 : Anaïs David, Arthur Meurisse, Clément Meister, Damien Seeten (son of Joe Seeten, french offshore sailor who completed two round the world races solo and won the Tour in 1979 !), Pierre Noesmoen, Quentin Wallerich, Timothée Deplasse. The team has the support of the « Communauté Urbaine de Dunkerque » and will aim to improve their best result in the pre-season (10th) on each of the nine Acts.

 

Souffle du Nord (ex Courrier Choc early this season) is skippered by five time winner of the Tour de France à la Voile, Antoine Carpentier, with a crew of top sailors who were for two of them part of last year’s winner Courrier Dunkerque, lead by Daniel Souben, now skipper of Sodebo. The crew is made of Pierre-Antoine Morvan, Pierre-Loïc Berthet, Stéphane Geslin, Jean-Pierre Nicol and Cédric Château. The boat wears the colours of the ‘Projet Imagine’, supported by Dunkirk born Thomas Ruyant who will launch his new IMOCA 60ft monohull to compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre in November and in the Vendée Globe in 2016.

 

Three days to go before the Tour de France à la Voile kicks off

June 30th 2015

The competitors are getting settled in Dunkerque

The teams have started to arrive in Malo-les-Bains (Dunkirk’s seaside) on Monday, to get ready for the start of he 38th edition of the Tour de France à la Voile on Friday.

Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm, Malo Bessec, Damien Guillou et Antoine Joubert) was the first team to launch their Diam 24 trimaran from the beach, and have gone through the pre-event procedures like scrutineering and paperwork. They are now ready to start training on the water before the inaugural race (coastal course) on Friday, some exhibition races on Saturday and stadium racing on Sunday.

28 teams will take part in the event, instead of the 29 initially entered, since Mathieu Mourès (Martinique) announced he won’t be able to do his fourth Tour de France à la Voile.

Other teams are adjusting their agenda, with Franck Cammas only stepping onboard in Roscoff after competing in the Nacra 17 World Championships in Denmark. Then he will leave again after Roses to take part in the Louis-Vuitton ACWS in Portsmouth (UK) from 23-26 July. His crew, Arnaud Jarlegan, Romain Motteau, Pierre Pennec and Quentin Ponroy will take turns to cover the skipper position.

Team Agrival also had to modify its crew after Sophie d’Ortoli got injured in a capsize on June 12th and had a surgery on her leg. Two talented crew from olympic sailing and match-racing will take turns onboard the only all-female Diam 24 : Julie Bossard will be at the helm from Les Sables d’Olonne to Gruissan, and Mathilde Géron will be tactician with skipper Pauline Chalaux for the last three Acts.

Onboard Spindrift, Yann Guichard won’t take part in the Tour de France à la Voile as a skipper, as initially announced. The French-Swiss Diam 24 will be skippered by Xavier Revil and François Morvan and is one of the pre-event favourites with Groupama.

The Entertainment Village will open on Friday from 11am to 10pm and the public will be able to have a close look at the fleet and meet the sailors on the Paddocks. The 28 Diam 24 will take the start of the first Coastal Race on Friday at 12.00



An exceptional line-up for the Tour de France à la Voile 2015

May 28th 2015

Today in Paris saw the grand unveiling of the Diam 24 line-up, which will participate in the Tour de France à la Voile this summer.

Some 29 crews will set sail from Dunkirk on 3 July!
The great diversity of the line-up will enable onlookers to witness today’s top skippers and crews doing battle on an equal footing. As such, it promises to be a sumptuous spectacle along every one of France’s seaboards given the extent to which the new trimaran has captured the imagination during the pre-season events. Indeed the Diam 24 has already proven that it is the perfect medium for getting up close to the public audience and ensuring some hard-fought races. This very special edition of the Tour de France à la Voile is sure to mark an era and it promises us three weeks of truly gripping action!

A choice line-up that brings the whole sailing domain together

With nine coastal adventure challenges and 45 races in the nautical stadium on offer, the programme for the Tour de France à la Voile 2015 is no fitness trail. It’s a marathon contested at the pace of a sprint event that awaits the skippers and crews from Dunkirk and beyond. A team marathon where the key to success will likely involve remaining on the alert both tactically and mentally throughout the three packed weeks of races.

Cammas (Groupama), Beyou (Maitre Coq), Lemonchois (Prince de Bretagne), Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), Riou (PRB), Guichard (Spindrift), Tabarly (Armor Lux – Comptoir de la Mer), Souben (Sodebo) and Pavant (Made in Midi) form part of the headline acts. For the most part, the skippers are keen to combine their experience as offshore racers with other sailing talents. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to find alongside them sailors with less familiar faces, albeit with a track record as long as a windless day.

Current members of the French Olympic Sailing Team and former protagonists from the Olympic Games in Athens, London or Beijing have come to flesh out the crew lists. The bulk of the key match racing specialists has also been recruited, regularly topping the leaderboard in the pre-tour period, as is the case for Combiwest skippered by Fred Guilmin. Sébastien Rogues boasts one of the best match racers in the world aboard ENGIE: Mathieu Richard.

The arrival of the Diam 24 also sees the female sailors return to the event. In this way, the all-women’s crew of Agrival skippered by Pauline Chalaux will take the start, as will Alexia Barrier, skipper of 30 Corsaires. The Figaro sailors are still out in force too, including Fred Duthil (Grandeur Nature Vérandas) and Nicolas Bérenger on Beijaflore Sailing.

Antoine Carpentier (Le Souffle du Nord), a familiar figure of the Tour de France à la Voile, has moved up from the status of crew to that of skipper. Another connoisseur of the event, Jean-Baptiste Gellée, a member of the APCC Voiles Sportives, will be at the helm of Radio Vinci Autoroutes. Both have quickly got their bearings aboard this new craft. Meantime Mathieu Moures has just launched his Diam 24 Martinique. We’re keenly awaiting the return of this sailor from the West Indies, who was absent from the circuit last year.

There are also a number of sailors who are taking on the role of skipper for the first time and some are completely new to the Tour de France à la Voile including Benoît Champanhac (Défi YC Saint-Lunaire), Emeric Dary (Dynamique Voile), Arnaud Daval (Techneau), Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon (Vannes Agglo-Golfe du Morbihan), Simon Moriceau (West Courtage-Ecole Navale), Bruno Staub (Lorina Boissons Artisanales) and Charles Hainneville (Normandy EliteTeam). This is also the case for Loic Féquet who will be getting young sailors from Dunkirk sailing and training aboard Dunkerque Voile.

There are some highly original projects too, such as that of Damien Seguin (Fondation Française des Jeux – Des Pieds et des Mains), which combines able-bodied and disabled sailors, or that of freeride skiing specialist Aurélien Ducroz (La France du Nord au Sud), all of which are likely to inspire both the media and the public, who we expect to flock to the various venues between Dunkirk and Nice.

The latest crew to sign up is the Australians on Team Oz (Brett Dryland and Rob Waterhouse), who are preparing in the southern hemisphere before making for Europe.

The Tour is definitively turning a new page then and with 35 days to go till kick-off, there’s a real buzz among the crews and the organisation teams.

“Our aim with the Diam 24 was to offer a boat, which enables a very high standard of racing and is accessible in terms of budget. It is also a boat that enables us to really share the sailing with the public. What we’ve seen of the competition so far has thrilled us. The skippers and spectators also seem happy. We’re extremely proud of the line-up we’ve announced today. We are guaranteed of an exceptional show out on the water and we can’t wait to get to Dunkirk,” commented Jean-Baptiste Durier, Director of the Tour de France à la Voile in front of a large gathering at today’s presentation.

YANMAR commits to the Tour de France à la Voile

During this morning’s presentation, Yann Le Moënner, CEO of A.S.O revealed the name of the Tour de France à la Voile’s major new partner – Yanmar. Familiar to sailors through its marine engine subsidiary, Yanmar is primarily an international protagonist, which produces and distributes construction equipment specially designed for construction, civil engineering and landscaping. Jean-Marc Reynaud, President of Yanmar Construction Equipment Europe S.A.S. and Vice-Président of Yanmar Construction Equipment Co. Ltd. benefited from the disclosure of the 2015 line-up for the Tour de France à la Voile to explain the reasoning behind his company’s involvement. “I’m very happy to be among you today. It’s a real pleasure to represent the Yanmar Group and to be supporting the Tour de France à la Voile. Yanmar has a long and lasting history with sailing. For us it’s a market and a major artery of communication. We’ve been lucky enough to sponsor a boat that participated in the America’s Cup: BMW Oracle. One fine event on the trail of another. Today’s we’re proud to be displaying our colours alongside the Tour de France à la Voile!” explained Jean-Marc Reynaud.

Over thirty boats entered for the TFV 2015

December 5th 2014

It’s been four months since the finish of the last edition in Nice and the annoucement of the Tour de France à la Voile new boat, the Diam 24.

And the trimaran builder, Vianney Ancelin, has had his order book full. Furthermore, the entry list for the 2015 edition has been filled in just a few hours. A big success for Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O) which aimed to gather a large fleet with this new Diam 24 trimaran. The 31 entries have been revealed today at the Nautic (Paris Boat Show) and the race director Jean-Baptiste Durier has announced the line-up and the venues of what is set to be an remarkable edition.

An historical line-up

It has been more than seven years (July 2007) since the Tour de France à la Voile has had such a large line-up. « This enthusiasm is reflected by the amazing momentum following the announcement of the new format », says Jean-Baptiste Durier. They will be 31 teams to take part in this first edition on a Diam 24. Beyou, Cammas, Lemonchois, Riou, Rogues, Seguin, Stamm and Tabarly are amongst the skippers who didn’t want to miss out. The title holder Daniel Souben, will also be back, with Thomas Coville. Aside those renowned skippers, there will be some female sailors like Anne-Claire Le Berre and Laure Caucanas, some other classes specialists (Bérenger, Moriceau, Rogues) and some enthusiastic Corinthians. Damien Seguin will lead a disabled sailing project. Whilst the reflexions on the change of boat were still in their early stages, A.S.O was already aiming for a varied line-up. In 2015, the whole family of sailing will be gathered together in this Tour, and it goes even beyond with the double world freeride skiing champion Aurélien Ducroz.

A show for the general public, on land and on the water

The spectators will enjoy some high level racing on the water, as all these sailors want to write their name in the history book of the race. And the public will be closer from the action than ever. The Diam 24 will « take the spectacle closer to the shore, and therefore to the public », said Jean-Etienne Amaury, president of A.S.O during the announcement today. The stadium racing will be set right in front of the beach or in front of the pier to offer a perfect grandstand. The cities where the Tour de France à la Voile will stop are very enthusiastic about the race format revolution. The idea is to make the show more accessible to the general public. In each town, one day will be dedicated to the short and spectacular stadium racing, with live commentary and music. And the other day will see some coastal expedition races to showcase some iconic parts of the French coast. On land, the Tour de France à la Voile will offer more entertainement than ever throughout the Race Village and beyond, with concerts, beach attractions, and event-branded cars full of goodies. Over the 9 Acts of the 2015 edition, the Diam 24 will be either berthed in the port or lifted out of the water in a public paddock area that will give everyone the opportunity to meet the crew and get as close as possible to the boats.

9 Acts between Dunkirk and Nice

The next edition will be made of 9 Acts, and the fleet of the Diam 24 will visit the three maritimes seaboards (the English Channel, the Atlantic, and the Mediterranean). The event will start in Dunkirk, where the Tour will stop for the 30th time, whilst the last Act will be set in Nice. In the meantime, the skippers will compete in Fécamp, Roscoff, Pornichet, Les Sables d’Olonne, Roses, Gruissan and Marseille. The Tour de France à la Voile 2015 will be spread over three weeks from 3rd July to 26th July.

Entry list of the Tour de France à la Voile 2015:

  • 30 CORSAIRES, skipper: Alexia Barrier
  • ARMOR LUX – COMPTOIR DE LA MER, skipper: Erwan Tabarly
  • BEIJAFLORE TEAM, skipper: Nicolas Bérenger
  • CHEMINÉES POUJOULAT, skipper: Bernard Stamm
  • COMBIWEST, skipper: Frédéric Guilmin
  • COURRIER CHOC D’IXELLES, skipper: Antoine Carpentier
  • DEFI YCSL, skipper: Benoît Champanhac
  • DIAM IS GIRLS BEST FRIEND, Laure Caucanas
  • DYNAMIQUE VOILE, skipper: Emeric Dary and Thomas Cardrin
  • FONDATION FDJ – DES PIEDS ET DES MAINS, skipper: Damien Seguin
  • GDF SUEZ, skipper: Sébastien Rogues
  • GRANDEUR NATURE, skipper: Frédéric Duthil
  • GROUPAMA, skipper: Franck Cammas
  • LATITUDE NEIGE / LONGITUDE MER, skipper: Aurélien Ducroz and Laurent Voiron
  • LORINA BOISSONS ARTISANALES, skipper: Bruno Staub
  • MAÎTRE COQ, skipper: Jérémie Beyou
  • PRB, skipper: Vincent Riou
  • PRINCE DE BRETAGNE, skipper: Lionel Lemonchois
  • SEA 4 SAIL, skipper: Aymeric Chappellier et Romain Motteau
  • SODEBO, skipper: Thomas Coville et Daniel Souben
  • TEAM LE BERRE, skipper: Anne-Claire Le Berre
  • TECHNEAU, skipper: Arnaud Daval
  • WEST COURTAGE – ECOLE NAVALE, skipper: Christian Ponthieu and Simon Moriceau
  • Z3PHYR, skipper: Charles Hainneville
  • ABSOLUTE DREAMER, skipper TBC
  • AGRIVAL, skipper TBC
  • OMANSAIL, skipper TBC
  • SPINDRIFT BLACK, skipper Yann Guichard
  • SPINDRIFT WHITE, skipper TBC
  • VANNES AGGLO- GOLFE DU MORBIHAN, skipper TBC
  • Sponsor TBC, skipper : Loïc Fequet

 

Diam 24 a new boat for the Tour de France à la Voile

July 27th 2014

Like the previous boats, the Diam 24 is one-design boat.

But the true revolution that A.S.O chose to establish lies in the fact that the Diam 24 is a 7.25m trimaran

The multihull revolution

After the Ecume de Mer (1978), the First 30 (1979 to 1981), the Rush Royale (1982 and 1983), the Sélection 37 (1984 to 1991), the JOD 35 (1992 to 1998), the Farr 30 (1999 to 2010) and the M34 (2011 to 2014), from next summerm 2105, the Diam 24 will be the new boat of the Tour de France à la Voile,

Like the previous boats, the Diam 24 is one-design boat. But the true revolution that A.S.O chose to establish lies in the fact that the Diam 24 is a 7.25m trimaran ! This sport boat was designed by VPLP and built in Port La Forêt (France) by Vianney Ancelin. Since its launch at the Paris Boat Show in December last year it has already seduced many renowned French sailors.

A circuit has also been created including various events like the Grand Prix Guyader, the Grand Prix de l’Ecole Navale, and the Raid Emeraude in Saint-Lunaire. Michel Desjoyeaux, François Gabart, Vincent Riou and Sidney Gavignet are just some of the the first people who have shown their interest in this multihull.

A controlled budget for easier access to the event

The Tour de France à la Voile needed a new breath of life. For a few months, A.S.O has led a large survey with stakeholders from the sailing industry (skippers, crew members, project managers, institutions, partners…). They had three priorities : firstly, to offer a boat that would make the participation to the event much cheaper. Secondly, to choose a one-design boat which also has a circuit, which means a boat that has a life outside of the Tour de France à la Voile.  « We wished to start from a blank page in order to have a maximum of opportunities, without closing any doors. The budget for taking part in the event quickly appeared to be the key point, as well as the desire of many competitors to move to multihull racing, for more speed and more spectacular show on the water. The Diam 24 costs about 55 000 euros ready to sail, which is one third of the cost of the M34, and it entirely fullfils the two objectives. It offers a perfect budget positioning, with the opportunity to attract a large range of teams, from the corinthian to the elite crew. For the top teams, it will be a complementery platform to their main projects, on an event that they enjoy, and that offers their partners great possibilities in multiple places, both on the race village and from an hospitality point of view, the Tour de France à la Voile being, through its format, a summer tour along the french coasts », declared Jean-Baptiste Durier rhis morning in Nice.

Closer from the public

The Diam 24 is a fun, fast and spectacular boat, and on top of that, it will sail closer to the public. It was one of A.S.O main objectives since they bought the Tour de France à la Voile in 2012. To reinforce the « show » aspect of the Tour de France à la Voile. The idea is to set an itinerary around France, with some iconic places of the French coast, like the « Château du Taureau », in Roscoff, or the island of Porquerolles near Hyères. « We will alternate two types of races in each stop. Some coastal races, on Day 1, that we can adapt depending of the weather conditions, and that will showcase the wonders of our coasts, and some inshore races, on Day 2 on a sailing stadium mode. Our will is the bring the show closer from the shore and from the spectators, and to create an entertainment program on land so that the public can understand what’s going on on the water, with a very well thought out visual and audio background. People like multihull sailing because it can be very spectacular. That’s also what guided our choice », said the director of the Tour de France à la Voile (name ?) The Diam 24 will have 3 or 4 crew onboard and can be lifted out of the water and dismantled in an hour only. From a logistical point of view, it is a perfect format for the Tour.

A mix of top sailors and corinthian sailors, the essence of the Tour de France à la Voile

The teams of the Tour de France à la Voile have welcomed the Diam 24 announcement with enthusiasm. They know this is the opportunity to revive the sporting aspect of the event, following on from the large reorganisation operated on land for the last two years (increase of the Race Village, creation of a set of publicity cars and of an entertainment hub on the beaches). Some key sailing figures who haven’t taken part for many years could consider coming back along the french coasts , like Michel Desjoyeaux, François Gabart, or Vincent Riou, who won everything this year on the Diam 24 circuit. « The future of sailing, in general, is the multihull. I am absolutely sure of that », explained François Gabart.  And for Michel Desjoyeaux, « the objective is to have more boats and more sailors on the Tour de France à la Voile. The Diam 24 complies with the necessary flexibility on a mobile event along the French coasts, taking into account the timing priorities for the entertainment on land ! »

The Corinthians are also very intertested by the new series that should keep developing this year. Paul Adam, President of the Ligue Haute Normandie who initiated the Normandy-Acerel M34 campaign, who just won the Corinthian ranking this year, is supporting the Tour’s evolution : « The Tour de France à la Voile needed to be rejunevated. We are heading torwards a more attractive type of sailing, that is also a show for the spectators. The lower financial conditions will encourage the smaller teams to come back to the event ». The new course will be revealed during the Nautic – Paris Boat Show in december, as well as a few competitors already involved for the next edition. The objective is to offer a diverse fleet, gathering various families of sailing, olympic sailors, offshore sailors, professionnal crew members, and corinthian teams. The Tour de France à la Voile is en route towards its future on three hulls ! 

Quotes from :

Michel Desjoyeaux skipper :
« The Tour is a model in french crew handed sailing. Many young sailors have grown to top level racing and became pro after sailing on the Tour. Multihull sailing is clearly part of the french sailing and technological culture, and now it is finally going international ! It’s great gather the two and revive this major event. The objective is to have more boats and more sailors. The Diam 24 complies with the necessary flexibility on a mobile event along the french coasts, taking into account the timing priorities for the entertainment on land »

Vincent Riou, skipper of the 60’ monohull PRB :
« The Diam 24 is a light and fun sport boat. It’s full-on and it’s going to be a great show. I was looking for another boat on top of my 60 foot monohull. It’s an easy campaign to take on. The Diam 24 series has just started and it already attracts top people. And the Tour de France à la Voile is also an institution. I think the Diam 24 can rejunevate the event. It will be a great campaign to do the Tour on a multihull. I just love the idea ! »

Daniel Souben, skipper of Courrier Dunkerque 3 :

« We are at a time when the Tour has some difficulties despite the level of the competitors and the excellent media cover. We don’t have enough teams. So we can’t refuse the opportunity to rejunevate. The solution they found should allow attract many teams to the event and facilitate the mix of professionnals and corinthians. It will be a different format as we are going to lose the offshore legs. But it will bring some new competitors including a younger generation and some people from the multihull world. The Diam 24 in the Tour is a good thing, from a communication point of view, but also from the budget point of view. It’s definitely worth trying ».

Eric Hainneville, President of the Diam 24 class :
« The introduction of the Diam 24 as the new boat for the Tour de France à la Voile is a bit stressful for me, as a president of the Class. The bar is set high right from the start. We just want to be good enough so that no one is disappointed. As a sailor, it’s a fantastic project. I think it’s a recognition of the multihull as a proper racing platform. Sailing a multihull requires real sailing abilities. The America’s Cup helped a lot in this recognition. With Vianney Ancelin, we wanted a sensationnal boat, for a reasonnable price, simple and easily accessible. It was a real challenge. This boat will attract other types of sailors, both on the pro and on the corinthian side. It will give the Tour de France à la Voile a new dimension. I think it’s fantastic. There is a real mutual trust amongst us, the sailors, the class, and the race organisers ».

Nicolas Honor, project manager of Oman Sail :
« The fact that A.S.O is changing the boat is a good thing. Unfortunately today, the entries are decreasing every year on the Tour de France à la Voile. A.S.O had the courage to do something about it. Regarding Oman Sail, our project is more offshore sailing orientated, but we also have our MOD70 so the Diam 24 could be an interesting platform for us. We can readjust our omani sailors training program. We are more than 50% sure to do the Tour de France à la Voile again next year. But there are still some question marks because the Oman Sail program for next year hasn’t been established yet for the various circuits we are involved in. In brief, if we have an opportunity to do the Tour on a Diam 24, we will take it ».

Sidney Gavignet, skipper of Team Oman Sail :
« Moving to multihull is simply in the mood of our time. This change was necessary. To find a more affordable platform is logical considering the economic situation. I think the competition will be homogeneous. The big teams will prepare like big teams do and then we will have some sailors who don’t come from offshore sailing but from the sport multihull. I trust A.S.O to make the right choices ».


François Gabart, skipper of Macif :
« I did my first Tour in 2002 or 2003 and at the time I was sailing on Tornado. On the Tour I discovered offshore sailing, nightime racing, sailing with the tides and current… But I thought monohulls were a bit slow. AT the time I remember I told myself that it would be great to do it on small multihulls ! Therefore I think the evolution of the Tour de France à la Voile is very positive. And the future of sailing in general is multihulls. I bought a Diam 24 before even knowing it would be the new Tour boat. It’s an excellent boat, very accessible, both from a budget point of view and from a technical aspect. The Tour will be more popular, for the public and for the competitors. The mix has always been the Tour’s strength ! »

Courrier Dunkerque 3, winner of the 37th TFV

July 26th 2014

After three last inshore races today in Nice, Daniel Souben and his crew won the Tour de France à la Voile. It is the third time that the team of Courrier Dunkerque finishes the event at the top of the podium, after winning the race twice in a row in 2008 and 2009. Last year’s champion Groupama 34, who managed to get as close as 7 points from the race leader just a few days ago, was not strong enough to beat Courrier Dunkerque. The key to Daniel Souben’s success this year has been an incredible consistancy, on both inshore and offshore races, and a fantastic team work. « Our strength also comes from the fact that our crew remained the same from the beginning to the end. Before we would have brought some fresh blood to the team for the Mediterranean, but this time we were the same 9 crew from Dunkerque to Nice », admitted skipper Daniel Souben.

The two rivals have offered some exceptionnal sailing moments. In Bréhat, for example, the two boats started a crazy match-racing duel a few meters from the rocky shores. Groupama 34 performed really well in the inshore races but missed two major high scoring offshore legs, which ended up costing them a lot. Every single mistake in this year’s game actually cost a lot to both teams. And one of the reasons for that might be the new one-design sails that the teams received just before the event started in Dunkerque and that leveled the competition. But Groupama 34 also had an amazing crew, with Fabien Henry (who has 12 Tours under his belt as a skipepr or project manager, including 5 victories) as a skipper for the Atlantic side of the race, and Franck Cammas for the Mediterranean. « It was a fierce battle until the end and it was not easy at the beginning of the Mediterranean when we saw Franck stepping onboard and winning a few races in a row. He has this ability to gather and motivate his troups and it could be intimidating. But we never stopped believing in a possible victory. We stayed strong until the end », declared Daniel Souben.

Third place of the podium was disputed until the end today in Nice. Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Elite was still third this morning when they left the dock, but Team Oman Sail managed to reach their goal, stepping up on the podium for the first time in five participations in the the Tour de France à la Voile. The Omani crew who was in difficulty in the Mediterranean sailed better in the last few days. Last night they were back three points behind Nicolas Troussel, and the three races today in Nice were enough for Oman Sail to win the few points they were missing to realise their dream. The team skipper Sidney Gavignet greeted the progress of his Omani crew.

The Corinthian team Normandy Acerel can also be proud of their performance in this Tour. Baptiste Choquenet won the Corinthian ranking but also finished 5th overall, in front of the professionnal team Ville de Genève - Carrefour Addictions. The Normands sailed really well since they arrived in the Med. The team quickly found their marks with their new crew, including match-racer Cédric Château and Figaro sailor Alexis Loison.

Although Nantes Saint-Nazaire outshined in the last few races, it was not enough to get back in contact with Normandy-Acérel. Jean-baptiste Gellée and his team finished 7th overall, in front of the young crew of Toulon Provence Méditerranée Coych who struggled finding their rythm with their new crew members who stepped onboard for the Med.

The Belgian-Swiss team Be- Brussels – Bienne Voile finished 9th but will keep great memories of this Tour de France à la Voile. They have learnt a lot and never stopped progressing from Dunkerque to Nice. They deserve a trophy for their cheerfulness and their dedication.