In the Tour de France à la Voile, there are twelve teams sailing upwind in the North Sea, 96 drenched sailors hiking and looking at waves, current and cargos. The competitors set sail from Breskens at noon and will arrive in Dieppe tomorrow around 1pm.
2013 Tour de France a la Voile
'The war is on!' said a cheerful Nicolas Groux, trimmer for Ville de Genève Carrefour Addictions on the VHF. 'That’s what we are here for. I love upwind sailing.'
That’s a tough call – he loves it despite a rainy and foggy start, despite the perspective of 24 hours of a heeled boat and despite the seasickness affecting some of the competitors.
The fleet reached the French waters at 7pm tonight. Groupama, Sodebo, Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Elite, OmanSail and Ville de Genève Carrefour Addictions are in the front pack. But all boats are sailing apart and there is no clear leader at this point.
Martinique – BE Brussels amateurs lost all electronics at the start in Breskens. They are sailing without data on deck. 'One of the crew has to stay inside the boat to follow the map on the computer,' said co-skipper Mathieu Mourès. 'It’s not very practical.'
They keep looking, tacking, crossing, trimming and avoiding ships. There is no more than 10 knots of wind now blowing from the SW but five knots of current and swell made the game a tougher one. Wind is dropping because of the upcoming tidal change and current will soon reverse.
At night all 12 teams will sail past French capes Blanc Nez and Gris Nez to reach Boulogne-sur-Mer at dawn. Race director Christophe Gaumont’s ETA is around 1pm tomorrow at Dieppe.
Daniel Souben, Courrier Dunkerque 3 skipper: 'We didn’t take a great start when leaving the Escaut river delta because of the current but we are coming back. We already took over half of the fleet. No tactics needed but focus, speed and trimmings. I’m rating the comfort onboard three or four over 10 right now because it’s still daylight. At night I cannot tell yet!'
Mathieu Mourès, Martinique – BE Brussels co-skipper: 'We lost all electronics at the start! One of the crew has to stay inside the boat to follow the map on the computer. It’s not very practical but we are getting there and we will keep trying to fix it.'
Overall ranking after eight races before jury:
1 Groupama 34, Cammas Franck 247 Pts - Blue Spinnaker
2 Courrier Dunkerque 3, Souben Daniel 224 Pts
3 Bretagne Credit Mutuel Elite, Troussel Nicolas 220 Pts
4 Team Omansail, Pouligny Cédric 220 Pts
5 Ville De Geneve - Carrefour Addictions, Mettraux Elodie-Jane Et Groux Nicolas 199 Pts
6 Sodebo, Coville Thomas 197 Pts
7 Nantes - Saint Nazaire - E.Leclerc, Douguet Corentin 193 Pts
8 Toulon Provence Mediterranee - Coych, Bernaz Jean-Baptiste 191 Pts
9 Normandie, Choquenet Baptiste 171 Pts
10 Martinique - Be.Brussels, Wolters Delphine Et Moures Matthieu 163 Pts
11 Iskareen, Dittmers Christiane Et Bruhns Sönke 163 Pts
12 Bienne - Voile – Srs, Peter Luzius Et Kunz François 146 Pts
Offshore ranking after one race before jury:
1 Groupama 34, Cammas Franck 75 Pts
2 Team Omansail, Pouligny Cédric 72 Pts - Green Spinnaker
3 Bretagne Credit Mutuel Elite, Troussel Nicolas 69 Pts
Technical ranking after seven races before jury:
1 Groupama 34, Cammas Franck 172 Pts
2 Courrier Dunkerque 3, Souben Daniel 158 Pts - Red Spinnaker
3 Bretagne Credit Mutuel Elite, Troussel Nicolas 151 Pts
Amator ranking after eight races before jury:
1 Normandie, Choquenet Baptiste 171 Pts - Pink Spinnaker
2 Martinique - Be.Brussels, Wolters Delphine Et Moures Matthieu 163 Pts
3 Iskareen, Dittmers Christiane Et Bruhns Sönke 163 Pts
4 Bienne - Voile – Srs, Peter Luzius Et Kunz François 146 Pts
Tour Voile website