Team New Zealand to race in Tour Voile
Adrian Stead and his crew dominated the 2000 Tour in their Mumm 30 Barlo Plastics, but this year he is focused on the IC45 campaign for the Admiral's Cup, again sponsored by Barlo. Likewise, Tony Buckingham's Easy Oars, which finished third in 2000, is unlikely to return - leaving the way clear for the top French professional teams and Team New Zealand themselves.
After cancelling their participation at the last minute last year because of the mass defection to other America's Cup syndicates, the Kiwis have decided to come back. They are eager to win after having been so close to doing so in 1999 when Luc Dewulf's "Kateie" sailed to victory in the protest room.
"The Tour is a special event for us, nice for team building as we sail in slightly different roles and we meet different people", said Tom Schnackenberg. Besides Schnackenberg, the team will be composed of the most high-profile sailors in Team New Zealand - Dean Barker, Hamish Pepper, (both 2000 World Match Racing Champions), Frenchman Bertrand Pacé, Mike Quilter (recent winner of The Race aboard Club Med) and young match racing talent Cameron Appleton.
There might be one or two America's Cup challengers to face the Kiwis, as well as some strong European teams. For the first time Italy, the current holder of the Mumm 30 European and World Championships, will participate in Tour Voile. Imperia's Federico Michetti set up a team called "Italia" with some of the "Seven Team" that lifted the European Championship.
Swiss skipper Etienne David and his crew aboard "Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention" will try their best to keep on climbing on the points score board as they've been doing in the past two years.
As for the French, Alain Fédensieu, 2nd in Tour Voile 2000 and winner of the "Championnat de France de Course au Large" will be looking to go one better on "TBS-Marseille". Fédensieu has hired Olympic sailors like 49er helmsman Dimitri Deruelle who participated in the Sydney Olympic games. Fédensieu has also chosen the talented match racer Nicolas Charbonnier, who recently became Junior World Match Racing Champion.
Jimmy Pahun aboard "Région Ile de France" will also be one the favourites with ocean racer Isabelle Autissier amongst his crew.
Former 49er world No. 1 team Marc Audineau and Julien Farnarier along with Marc Bouvet, and Sébastien Col (Melges 24 European Champions) and Dominique Vittet (former winner of the single handed-race La Solitaire du Figaro) will sail together aboard Ville d'Antibes.
The amateur division includes Duncan Robinson's British team and his skipper Daniel Jones, who are training hard on their Mumm 30 "Panther AMG". Solo ocean racer Frenchman Marc Thiercelin, who recently finished fourth in the Vendée Globe,, will have show-business personalities sailing aboard his boat "Cinema".
There a growing interest among the student sailors with 21 teams already pre-registered. The RYA is entering a group of students, which will be the first time a non-French team has entered this division.
All in all, 60 teams have pre-entered for the event, up on last year's count of 52. In fact, organisers are hopeful of breaking the all-time high for the event, which was back in 1988.
For more information, try the official Tour Voile website.