Tour de France à la Voile - Groupama 34 wins Prologue Race

Tour de France a la Voile 2013 Prologue - Franck Cammas, Groupama 34
© Jean-Marie Liot
The 2013 Tour de France a la Voile begins in just two days’ time with a practice race being held today for the fleet. 'This practice race had the spirit of a real one,' said a smiley Cammas back on the dock in Dunkirk after Groupama 34’s victory in today’s trial. Today’s event did not count towards the overall ranking and although every team had guests onboard, the 12 M34s sailed the first course of the TFV 2013 as though it counted.

The starting gun fired at 3pm. The first upwind mark was set 0.8-miles away under a cloudy sky and 10 knots of breeze from the SW. Ville de Genève Carrefour Addictions rounded the windward mark first, followed by Groupama 34.

During the three-lap triangle race, Cammas and his seven crewmembers quickly took the lead for keeps. With the changing of the tide, so did most of the positions behind Groupama 34. The offshore side of the course was favored up until the second downwind leg, when the beach side became ideal. Daniel Souben’s men recognized the change and Courrier Dunkerque finished in second place. OmanSail took third and Nantes-St Nazaire E.Leclerc placed fourth. Ville de Genève, recently promoted to the professional level, crossed fifth.

There were no points earned in today’s race, but eyes are already set on Franck Cammas as a Tour favorite.

The French sailor disagrees. 'You should not draw conclusions after a single practice race. We were not even equal since we all sailed with different guests. No, no, no, it’s not going to be a Groupama month!'

Truth is, the 11 other teams know better. The Tour de France à la Voile 2013 officially begins with tomorrow’s inshore races, and points will be at stake (coefficient one per race). The fleet will depart the Hollandais Pier at 9am and will sail three in-port races, weather permitting.

Franck Cammas, Groupama 34 skipper: 'There is no need to overthink the favorite position whatsoever. We had guests onboard today so we were not even sailing all in the same configuration. Racing starts tomorrow. The team is motivated and as long as they focus, I won’t tell them off! It will be all about being in the race and being fast for tomorrow’s race – not an easy task with these boats. It isn’t easy to recover from a bad start, for example. As long as we are fast, I think we won’t make too many boat handling or tactical mistakes. It’s a fun game!'

Daniel Souben, Courrier Dunkerque 3 skipper: 'The favorite team controlled the practice race but the game is still open! Thinking of a two-team duel would be a trap. Both our teams may be a bit ahead of the game at the moment but the difference isn’t that big and can be upturned as the Tour goes along. Five or six boats are able to be on the podium and three or four can win. We are not happy with our practice race: we placed ourselves badly on the racecourse but managed to come back with the change tide. Such races may not count towards the overall ranking but they are key for the adrenaline to kick in.'

Elodie-Jane Mettraux, Ville de Genève – Carrefour Addictions skipper: 'We were looking forward to be back on the water, to sail and see the boat going well after these training months. It was nice to see we were fine speed wise: we know how painful is a Tour when you’re slow! Going from the amateur ranking to the professional one doesn’t change much – apart from the opportunity for a couple of youngsters to earn some money sailing in Switzerland. We have five pro sailors onboard but we also have five rookies. We’re still in the lines of Genève’s educational project. I’m genuinely looking forward to tomorrow’s race.

Practice race - positions - coefficient 0:

1 Groupama 34, Cammas Franck, 25 Pts
2 Courrier Dunkerque 3, Souben Daniel, 24 Pts
3 Team Omansail, Pouligny Cédric, 23 Pts
4 Nantes - Saint Nazaire - E.Leclerc, Douguet Corentin, 22 Pts
5 Ville De Geneve - Carrefour Addictions, Mettraux Elodie-Jane Et Groux Nicolas, 21 Pts
6 Iskareen, Dittmers Christiane Et Bruhns Sönke, 20 Pts
7 Sodebo, Coville Thomas, 19 Pts
8 Bretagne Credit Mutuel Elite, Troussel Nicolas, 18 Pts
9 Toulon Provence Mediterranee - Coych, Bernaz Jean-Baptiste, 17 Pts
10 Normandie, Choquenet Baptiste, 16 Pts
11 Martinique - Be.Brussels, Moures Matthieu, 15 Pts
12 Bienne - Voile – Srs, Peter Luzius Et Kunz François, 14 Pts

Event website
http://www.sail-world.com/111358