At 11.15am the Tour de France Voile 245-mile offshore leg from Deauville to Brest got underway. All 12 M34 had a reaching sail to Barfleur, flew the kite north of the Cotentin peninsula and are rounding La Hague Cape this evening ETA in Brest, Brittany, around 11.30am tomorrow.
2013 Tour de france voile
After much talk and weather analysis, all 12 boats left Deauville at 11.15am in 10 knots of north wind and strong current. Brest is waiting for them 245 miles farther west.
Competitors sailed upwind for a while to find more pressure on the right side of the racecourse – Normandie led that tactical move with match-race star Bertrand Pacé at the helm. Then they had a reaching tack to Barfleur in 17 knots of wind, a wet and tough ride ending at the Basse Renier mark with fractional kites and, soon, the big ones too.
'We had a solid start and a solid but wet reaching,' said Leigh McMillan onboard Team OmanSail. 'We had a frustrating time with our fractional kite though. Now we just have to get back and lead again.'
The wind dropped after the mark and the M34 sailed with the current towards Blanchard. Average speeds are likely to pick up after La Hague Cape on a long downwind tack across the Channel Islands. 15 to 20 knots from the NE are forecast, reaching 25 knots in Ouessant.
'We are going to hit the tidal change so we’ll spend some time in Blanchard,' said navigator Jean-Luc Nélias onboard Sodebo. 'I’m wondering whether to stick to the French side and sail past Alderney. A downwind ride is waiting for us tonight, dealing with the current and trying to come back on the leaders.'
The night will be windy and tactical and the sunset on the most western part of France will tell it all. 'The next hours will be all about the current and the wind rise. We are getting ready for a hell of a night!' concluded Jean-Baptiste Bernaz onboard TPM-Coych.
Estimated time of arrival in Brest, Brittany is around 11.30am tomorrow.
Erwan Israël, Groupama 34 navigator:
'The wind dropped as planned off Cherbourg and we are getting some food and drying up a bit after a rather wet reaching leg. We will reach Blanchard, a decisive point, just after the tidal change. Timing is tight to cross Blanchard with a favourable current so we’re hurrying up. Then we will sail past the Channel Islands and see what everyone is doing. Sailing conditions will be ideal for the M34 with 15 to 20 knots downwind, reaching the Four at dawn.'
Jérémie Beyou, Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Elite:
'Leaving Deauville wasn’t easy in light wind and strong current. We didn’t start well but managed to do better later. The reaching tack was wet before the wind got lighter North of the Cotentin peninsula. We will cross La Hague Cape with the tidal change. The wind will be stronger after the Cape, sailing through the islands and gybing with the kite… A nice night!'
Jean-Luc Nélias, Sodebo navigator:
'The bay of Seine was wonderful with a good wind. Boats were flying over the sea spray. We are going to hit the tidal change though, so we’ll spend some time in Blanchard. I’m wondering whether to stick to the French side and sail past Alderney? I don’t know yet if we are going to keep our competitors under control or play our own game. A downwind ride is waiting for us tonight, dealing with the current and trying to come back on the leaders.'
Leigh McMillan, Team OmanSail:
'We are relatively happy with our position. We had a solid start and a solid but wet reaching. We had a frustrating time with our fractional kite though. Now we just have to get back and lead again! The upcoming transition and the tidal change may be the perfect opportunity for that.'
Jean-Baptiste Bernaz, TPM-Coych co-skipper:
'A good start, though we lacked some speed. We came back in the game and sailed next to the rocks when reaching the Cape. The next hours will be all about the current and the wind rise. We are getting ready for a hell of a night!'
Overall ranking after 13 races before jury: 1 GROUPAMA 34, CAMMAS Franck 467 pts - Blue Spinnaker 2 BRETAGNE CREDIT MUTUEL ELITE, TROUSSEL Nicolas 430 pts 3 COURRIER DUNKERQUE 3, SOUBEN Daniel 422 pts 4 TEAM OMANSAIL, POULIGNY Cédric 418 pts 5 SODEBO, COVILLE Thomas 399,5 pts 6 VILLE DE GENEVE - CARREFOUR ADDICTIONS, METTRAUX Elodie-Jane et GROUX Nicolas 372 pts 7 TOULON PROVENCE MEDITERRANEE - COYCH, BERNAZ Jean-Baptiste 362 pts 8 NANTES - SAINT NAZAIRE - E.LECLERC, DOUGUET Corentin 357 pts 9 NORMANDIE, CHOQUENET Baptiste 323 pts 10 ISKAREEN, DITTMERS Christiane et BRUHNS Sönke 320 pts 11 MARTINIQUE - BE.BRUSSELS, WOLTERS Delphine et MOURES Matthieu 292 pts 12 BIENNE - VOILE – SRS, PETER Luzius et KUNZ François 283 pt Offshore ranking after 3 races before jury: 1 GROUPAMA 34, CAMMAS Franck 221 pts 2 BRETAGNE CREDIT MUTUEL ELITE, TROUSSEL Nicolas 215 pts - Green Spinnaker 3 TEAM OMANSAIL, POULIGNY Cédric 202 pts (...) Technical ranking after 10 races before jury: 1 GROUPAMA 34, CAMMAS Franck 246 pts 2 COURRIER DUNKERQUE 3, SOUBEN Daniel 224 pts - Red Spinnaker 3 SODEBO, COVILLE Thomas 218 pts Amator ranking after 13 races before jury: 1 NORMANDIE, CHOQUENET Baptiste 323 pts - Pink Spinnaker 2 ISKAREEN, DITTMERS Christiane et BRUHNS Sönke 320 pts 3 MARTINIQUE - BE.BRUSSELS, WOLTERS Delphine et MOURES Matthieu 292 pts 4 BIENNE - VOILE – SRS, PETER Luzius et KUNZ François 283 pts