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Manche Basse-Normandie wins first offshore leg

'Manche Basse-Normandie crew win first offshore leg - Tour de France à la Voile'    © Jean-Marie Liot

Manche Basse-Normandie has won the first offshore leg in the Tour de France A La Voile.

The M30s of the Tour de France Sailing Race left Dunkerque yesterday evening. They arrived at noon in Dieppe. This 94 nautical miles offshore leg was raced in light winds, and Manche Basse-Normandie (Benoît Charon, Nicolas Jossier) did the best performance.

However, hazardous conditions near Dieppe allowed some 'outsiders' into the top ten! On the other hand, some favourites such as former leader Toulon Provence Méditerranée – COYCHyères (Fabien Henry) lost everything getting stuck in front of Dunkerque without a blow of wind. Nouvelle-Calédonie (Ronan Dreano) finished second in this race, and is now leader in the general ranking.

94 nautical miles in fifteen hours, and a very precise and difficult navigation. The fleet was very close during the evening, and it spread out throughout the night. A few boats sailed ahead of the others up to Dieppe, but a few miles away from the arrival, a whole group got stuck in no wind. Amongst them were yesterday’s leader Toulon Provence Méditerranée – COYCHyères (Fabien Henry) and Elcimaï – Ville de Marseille (Dimitri Deruelle). They ranked eighteenth and twentieth in Dieppe.

The crew of Manche Basse-Normandie (Benoît Charon / Nicolas Jossier) won this offshore leg bound to the second stop-city of the Tour de France Sailing Race. 'At the first buoy we ranked OK, then we chose a wrong option off the coast and were behind everybody. Thanks to a wind shift, we went back in the first half of the fleet. After that, we only had to go, boat after boat, up to the first place!' Ville de Genève – Carrefour Prévention (Etienne David) and Nouvelle-Calédonie (Ronan Dreano) couldn’t help it! But it remained a tight race till the end 'when the wind dropped, the three leaders were stopped in front of Dieppe, which allowed Ile de France (Jimmy Pahun) to come back to the third place'.

The crew Solidarités Nouvelles pour le Logement (Eric Brezellec) ranked sixth. The skipper is quite satisfied by this: 'we trained a lot this year, our aim on the Tour de France Sailing Race is to finish on the podium. Tonight we did the wrong option at cap Gris-Nez, but we managed to catch up at the end of the race'. Défi Arts et Métiers – Icade – contre la SEP (Julien Marcelet) ranked tenth, just before CSC – HEC – Ecole Navale (Hervé Gautier).

Alexis Littoz and Lucas Millieret’s crew is going to keep the Bouygues Telecom spinnaker, i.e. that of the leader in the amateur ranking. Ville du Port – Région Réunion (Gabriel Jean-Albert) is now second before Saint-Malo Purflo Team SNBSM (François Lebourdais). 'It was a very exacting race, especially as far as strategy is concerned! Since the beginning we were in the leading group, but we didn’t manage the first wind shift properly, so we ranked only in the second half of the fleet in front of Boulogne, far away from the leaders. It is only in front of Dieppe that we could find some more wind.'

Nouvelle-Calédonie (Ronan Dreano) is the new leader of the overall ranking, only three points before Bâtisseurs du Morbihan (Victor Lanier / Nicolas Pauchet). Manche Basse-Normandie (Benoît Charon, Nicolas Jossier) is now on the third step of the podium.

The competitors will leave the harbour at 11.30am tomorrow for windward leeward races in front of Dieppe.

by Anatole Lucet


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2:48 AM Wed 2 Jul 2008 GMT

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