The nine teams of the Tour de France à la Voile had a tough day on the water today. In a strong wind, with gusts up to 30 knots, Courrier Dunkerque 3 proved to be the master of the game in its homeport. The team skippered by Daniel Souben won two of the three inshore races and takes an early lead overall.
It was a day for the experienced crew. A day where a single mistake could cost a lot. BE Brussel Bienne Voile paid the full price and was forced to retire from the race in leg 3 after crossing masts with Ville de Genève. And the same race saw Team Omansail and Bretagne Crédit Mutuel dropping their spinnaker in the water and struggling to bring it back onboard.
In such weather conditions, it is not surprising to see the most experienced teams leading the overall ranking tonight. Winner of yesterday’s practice race, Courrier Dunkerque 3 took the first two wins and finished third of the last race. But Daniel Souben will have to keep a close eye on Groupama 34. Last year’s winning team will give everything to defend its title. Their skipper Franck Cammas won’t be onboard until the Mediterranean legs but second skipper Fabien Henry and helmsman Tudgual Becquemie both have a huge experience on the Tour.
Groupama 34 won the last race of the day and is only two points behind Courrier Dunkerque 3 overall. According to their headsail trimmer Matthieu Di Russo, the team is not quite settled with their new M34 one-design sails. It’s the first time all the fleet races with one-design sails, which means all of the nine boats have the same sails on. And this novelty could change the game in this 37th Tour de France à la Voile
Bretagne Crédit Mutuel took two podiums this afternoon and finished the day in third overall, followed by Ville de Genève and Team Omansail.
Tomorrow the fleet will race inshore in the morning, before heading off at 8pm for the first offshore leg to Dieppe in Normandy. Matthieu Di Russo, headsail trimmer onboard Groupama 34:
'It’s the first time the M34s race with the same sails on and it’s very interesting. It took us a while to adapt ourselves to it and find the right set up, but we’re on top of it now and that’s why we finished first on the last race of the day. We are very motivated and focused and I think we will be a lot faster tomorrow.' Mathieu Renault, onboard Courrier Dunkerque 3:
'We had a great time onboard ! The game is very interesting this year with the one-design sails. It’s much tighter and it almost looks like match-racing. We are very happy with our results. If we include the practice race yesterday, we won three races out of four! With the Tour being shorter this year, we have to attack right from the start.' Nicolas Troussel, skipper of Bretagne - Crédit Mutuel Élite:
'We had two good races, but on the last one we dropped the spinnaker in the water and we lost some time. We’re lucky we managed to get it back on board without any damage. Then we passed one or two boats but it was too late. We look forward to be on the race course again tomorrow and catch up a few points. We had a good speed, so we are confident.' Overall ranking:
1 Courrier Dunkerque 3, Daniel Souben 73 pts
2 Groupama 34, Franck Cammas 71 pts
3 Bretagne - Crédit Mutuel Elite, skipper Nicolas Troussel 67 pts
4 Ville de Genève - Carrefoux Addictions, Nicolas Groux 63 pts
5 Team OmanSail, skipper, Sidney Gavignet 63 pts
6 Normandy - Acerel, Baptiste Choquenet 62 pts
7 Toulon Provence Méditerranée, Florian Simonnot 60 pts
8 Nantes Saint-Nazaire, Jean-Baptiste Gellée 56 pts
9 Be Brussels Bienne Voile, Delphine Wolters et Yann Burkhalter 51 pts Event website