'2013 Tour de France a La Voile'
@JM LIOT / TFV / ASO
This afternoon, the Tour de France a la Voile race committee secured three races and three opportunities to score for the M34 fleet just off the beaches of Dunkirk. Franck Cammas’ crew (Groupama 34) won the first two races and Thomas Coville (Sobedo) won the final race of the afternoon. Are Cammas’ competitors waking up?
Low tide came at soon, and Dunkirk’s strong currents revealed numerous sandy shallows, keeping M34 crews alert and allowing spectators to enjoy an afternoon’s worth of surprise maneuvers. Still leading the dance and holding off local crew Courrier Dunkerque 3, Groupama 34’s winter training was evident as they jockeyed for position in the pre-start countdown. The attacks came quickly as the rest of the fleet demonstrated their unwillingness to let Cammas’ boat secure an easy win.
The first race started at 11am in 10-15 knots of wind from the northwest. Race committee set a short triangle (.75 nautical miles to the windward mark) course to compensate for the vast shallows and low tide. Groupama 34 take control but Courrier Dunkerque 3 does not give up, taking over halfway… But loose the lead to Cammas again, only a couple a meters from the finish line! Second, the disappointed local crew take sixth and fifth and the next two races. Bretagne-Crédit Mutuel Elite take third after a good leg.
Again, Groupama take control of the second in-port race. Daniel Souben (Courrier Dunkerque) picks the wrong side on the first upwind leg. After a tough first race, Sodebo is doing better. This time around Groupama’s real opponent is Ville de Genève Carrefour Addictions, who take second. Team OmanSail take third.
But Saturday’s last race is not for Cammas’ crew. Sodebo take the best start, a key victory asset on such short racecourses (3,6 miles in total) while Iskareen and Ville de Genève are over the line too early. Sodebo lead from the first upwind mark to the finish line. Coville’s dream team have all it takes to win: four Volvo Ocean Race winners (Coville, Jean-Luc Nélias, Laurent Pagès, Martin Krite) and two World Match Racing Tour experts (Damien Iehl and Thierrt Briend) were onboard today.
Groupama, Sodebo and OmanSail are first, second and third overall tonight while Normandie’s young sailors are leading the amateur ranking.
All 12 M34 are sailing three in-port races tomorrow, weather permitting, before leaving for their first offshore leg. They will set sails from Dunkirk to Breskens, Holland tomorrow at 9pm.
Jean-Luc Nélias, Sodebo navigator: 'We are doing what we can! It’s nice to win a race, especially when it’s the last one of the first day. We took a better start and it’s an advantage to start in the lead on these very short racecourses. You can pick where you’re going and your competitors can only follow. We’ve struggled speed wise since the beginning and we are working on it. I’m in charge of navigation and Laurent Pagès calls the tactics, though we will see a lot of turnover for the tactician position. You’ll see my face all along though! I’ve done around 10 Tours and I’ve been on every step of the podium. Last time I came though, it was in 1999.'
Cédric Pouligny, Team OmanSail skipper: 'Our team often take the fourth place and we want to do better this time. It will be difficult though. I’m not speaking about Groupama and Dunkerque only – other teams are reaching high. Sodebo showed their potential on this last race. They will keep improving and so will Bretagne-CME. It’s all about patience and consistency. The main challenge this time is not to score any bad race because there is no ‘’discard’’ anymore. Consistency will pay.'
Guillaume Pirouelle, Normandie helmsman: 'It’s not so bad for a start. We were second at the first upwind mark of the first race… We lost it all afterwards. We’re getting there and are leading the amateur ranking today. Our main goal is to win this ranking. Our team mixes Normandy sailors. It’s my first Tour and I love it. This is a great experience topping up with y 470 sailing.'.
Tour de France a la Voile website
by Fabienne Morin
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8:16 PM Sat 29 Jun 2013GMT
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