25th anniversary Tour Voile

Another strong contingent expected including Royal Thames entry

Monday March 18th 2002, Author: Isabelle Musy, Location: France
Already an impressive 60 teams have pre-registered for this celebration 25th anniversary year in the Tour de France a la Voile.

The 2002 race should see tight and good racing among high profile crews and young ones eager to do well. Among the contenders are the ones who have been participating since the early years such as Jimmy Pahun, Alain Fédensieu and Vincent Portugal, some who have joined later such as Marc Thiercelin, Isabelle Autissier, Serge Madec and Gildas Philippe. On top of that, we'll find some foreign threats such as Swiss competitor Etienne David, Australian Nick Moloney and Italian Vasco Vascotto.

The Tour de France à la Voile is also a chance for young unknown skippers to compete in a high level one-design (Mumm 30) race thanks to the traditional three division system: overall, amateur and student ranking. The event has always been a good springboard and therefore is aiming at involving many young sailors from all over France.

At present it looks like two teams will be entering from UK waters aiming to follow in the footsteps of Adrian Stead's Barlo Plastics, winner of the 2000 Tour Voile. Rob Greenhalgh, skippering Panther, leads the strongest team with several big names already involved. Mike Broughton, top navigator who last year competed with Simon Shaw's student team, has shown an interested in sailing with the team. The team are currently looking for a sponsor, however enough funds have already been confirmed for the team to make it to Dunkerque for the start in late June. Also joining the team from Shaw's boat will be up and coming bowman Jeremy Elliot.

The second entry is from the Royal Thames YC. Mumm 30 owner, and Royal Thames member, Richard Bonham-Christie has donated his boat to the club following it's success last year with Simon Shaw at the helm. The team is already up and running with their first outing last weekend during the Warsash Spring Series. Though the team's budget is unlikely to reach that of Greenhalgh's, last year's success and the knowledge gained for it, will no doubt prove to be an advantage in the run up to this year's event.

Aside from the British team the Tour Voile is often the main goal in yacht club's training and competition programme. About 20 boats sponsored by local regions and departments in France will line up on the start line of the Tour de France à la Voile 2002.

The event not only attracts French sailors but has also raised a big interest abroad. Nine foreign teams have pre-registered. There should be foreign entries in each division. For the first time, there is an Israeli entry Team Israël.

To be noticed as well, the participation of an Aussie team with Team Australia skippered by Nick Moloney. Once again, the event will welcome two Swiss boats ( Ville de Genève and Bienne Voile) as well as a Belgian team ( T Service Intérim Région de Bruxelles). Another team to watch will be the Italian squadra skippered by the talented Vasco Vascotto, Mumm 30 World Champion.

The Tour de France à la Voile has traditionally been a good way to promote a cause or charity. Once again, there will be several campaigns such as Tepacap, Défi Sport Adapté, Ponts et Polytechnique Défi Sclérose En Plaque, Sciences Po Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque.

The Tour de France à la Voile will celebrate its 25th birthday and to the support of its sponsors AGF, Sony France et Sun Microsystems (main sponsors), M6 et France INFO/France BLEU (Media partners).

Overall class (16 pre-registered)

Racing will be tight. Once again, the professional teams should fight hard to finish in the top three. Ville D'Antibes Nec, Ville De Genève, Marseille, Nantes Saint Nazaire, Vitamine Hyères C.O.Y.C.H will all be in the running. But they will face serious threats such as Jimmy Pahun and his dream team made of talented sailors such as Isabelle Autissier and Laurent Pages. Vendee Globe skipper Marc Thiercelin, who skippered the movie stars boat Kenzo in 2001 is coming back with a stronger crew. Italy's Federico Michetti and Vasco Vascotto should be hard to beat as well as the Aussies and the Swiss.

Amateur class 17 pre-registered)

The amateurs should also have intensive racing with well tuned-up teams such as Codiam-Ensp Dh, Csc-Essec, Dinard, Ville De Bandol Européenne De Casinos) and new comers such as La Réunion RFO, Dunes de Flandre and PSA Peugeot Citroën.

Student ranking (24 pre-registered)

There is an important increase of the student entries with 24 pre-registered entries. Cap Université Versailles Saint Quentin En Yvelines, Insa, Polytechniqu and many others will no doubt feature highly in the event. A new campaign Jacques Vabre ESC Le Havre should see a student team welcoming some of the Transat Jacques Vabre winners.

See page 2 for the Tour Voile programme...

Mumm 30s starting one of the legs during last year's Tour Voile

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