Tour de France à la Voile - Groupama 34 dominates the fleet

Groupama 34 in action during the Tour de France a la Voile 2013
In the Tour de France a la Voile, after navigating the first two stretches of water, the English Channel and the North Atlantic, Groupama 34 is dominating with a 55-point lead over the second boat. In the past 35 editions of the Tour, it would seem that such a performance has never been matched before. Franck Cammas certainly isn't letting it be said that he has already won the Tour however. Mathematically, the skipper of Groupama 34 is right, as there are still nearly 2/3 of the points to be distributed in the Mediterranean section of the race. As such, anything is still possible.

Though some observers were beginning to cast some doubt over Groupama sailing team's ability to win this Tour, the three races contested at Saint Gilles Croix de Vie will have given them a cold shower, with three superb victories secured by Franck and his crew, as Bretagne Crédit Mutuel lament a poor day's racing.

As has often been the case since the start in Dunkirk, the crew of Groupama 34 got off to some good and not overly risky starts, made fast headway, manoeuvred to perfection and opted for the right tacks with a very inspired Tanguy Cariou calling tactics: 'It's true that we're very quick in the light airs. The crew is highly focused too', explains a cheerful Franck Cammas, surprised when he's asked if he can let some other competitors win sometime. 'If we could win everything, we wouldn't deprive ourselves of it. Don't think for a minute that it's easy though. The general level is very high and the results of the races are often uncertain just moments before the finish'.

Surrounded by a superb crew combining experience, youth and above all determination, the skipper of Groupama 34 is also reaping the rewards of excellent preparation and a training programme, which included the team from Dunkirk, skippered by Daniel Souben, who is currently lying in third position some eight points shy of second place.

The only surprise for Franck Cammas is his ranking in the offshore sprints: 'I expected us to perform better in the offshore races, which are our speciality'. It should be noted though that they have won three out of six...

Ultimately, of the 36 factors awarded, Groupama 34 has won 20 of them. That equates to the exact same number as those remaining in the Mediterranean stage...

Between now and Saturday however, the skipper is returning to Lorient to get some rest and also to spend some time at Groupama sailing team's base, where the C-Class catamaran, aboard which he will be contesting the World Championships at the end of September in Falmouth, is in the process of being assembled.

Next meeting on 20 July in Roses, Spain, for the final week of racing in the 36th Tour de France, which will draw to a close in Marseille on 28 July.

Provisional overall ranking in St Gilles Croix de Vie:

1. Groupama 34 with 868 points
2. Bretagne Crédit Mutuel : - 55 points
3. Courrier Dunkerque : - 63 points
4. Sodebo : - 81 points
5. OmanSail : - 99 points
6. TPM : - 177 points
7. Genève : - 187 points
8. Nantes St Nazaire : - 204 points
9. Normandie : - 242 points
10. Martinique BE Brussels : - 272 points
11. Iskareen : - 284 points
12. Bienne Voile : - 329 points

Groupama website