Elcimaï-Ville de Marseille wins last offshore leg

Tour de France à la Voile
© Jean-Marie Liot
The M 30s left Marseille this morning and sailed in changing winds all day long. It blew from twenty knots this morning to only two by the end of the race. Elcimaï – Ville de Marseille (Dimitri Deruelle) is the winner of the day: he arrived more than twenty minutes before the second Courrier Dunkerque (Daniel Souben)! Nouvelle-Calédonie (Vincent Portugal / Ronan Dreano / Bernard Mallaret) finished after the time limit, just as twenty-two other competitors.

They lose their chance to win the Tour de France Sailing Race in this race. Courrier Dunkerque (Daniel Souben) is still first in the overall ranking… will they manage to remain so until the end, tomorrow evening?

The departure was set to be yesterday, but had to be postponed until the mistral was away. The twenty-seven M 30s started the race at 9.22am in a wind which blew between 15 and 20 knots. A gust of wind blew up as strong as thirty knots, but after that, the wind became lighter and lighter throughout the day. As a result, most of the 48 nautical miles were sailed in three knots of wind.

The leader was too far away for the others: twenty-two minutes before the second, and another half hour before the third Val Thorens (Lucas Millieret / Alexis Littoz) arrived. Behind them, only Perpignan Méditerranée CA (Paul McKenzie) and Ville de Genève – Carrefour Prévention (Etienne David) had the time to finish before 8.10pm, the limit time. CSC – HEC – Ecole Navale (Hervé Gautier) and Nouvelle-Calédonie (Vincent Portugal / Ronan Dreano / Bernard Mallaret) missed it with only a few meters of delay… In these light winds, 'it took us more than half an hour to sail the last hundred meters!'

Will Elcimaï – Ville de Marseille go on till the end?
Dimitri Deruelle’s crew ranked fifth at the first buoy. After that, they chose to stay offshore. 'We were confident since the beginning on our choice. Once we were ahead, we only had to increase the distance' says helmsman Morgan Lagravière. Elcimaï – Ville de Marseille crew will do their best tomorrow to try and take the lead of the race!

Courrier Dunkerque is still first in the overall ranking
Daniel Souben’s crew still ranks 23 points ahead of Elcimaï – Ville de Marseille (Dimitri Deruelle). Still, they were behind them for most of the race: 'Elcimaï – Ville de Marseille was offshore, we were in the middle and Perpignan Méditerranée CA was ashore. When the wind got lighter, we had to go offshore to get some more wind, that’s how the positions changed' explains tactician Erwan Le Roux.

The last word of this 2008 Tour de France Sailing Race will be told tomorrow in front of Hyères – Toulon Provence Méditerranée. A thousand nautical miles after the departure, everything still may change!