Musical chairsThe Tour de France à la Voile has arrived in Bayonne, its last Atlantic stopover before all the Mumm 30s are transported overland to Saint-Cyprien in the Mediterranean. After three successful inshore races in La Rochelle, and a top result in the offshore to Bayonne FORCE EDC remains leader of the student section.
On arrival at La Rochelle, although having spent 32 hours at sea, the Force EDC team had to work late into the night repairing a damaged keel which had been hit by a container on the leg from St Nazaire to Nantes. This obviously did not affect their performance in the next day's three inshores where they obtained 17th place, 6th place and an 8th place.
When asked about the day's racing Ali Sutherland, bowman, explains: "we are a little disappointed with the first result. We started well but in the second beat we opted to take the passage to the right, whereas the wind proved to be favourable for those on the left. However we are very happy with today's performance, last nights work really paid off." That night, after another appearance on the podium at the 'remise des prix', the Force EDC team celebrated until the early hours of the morning, followed by a well-earned day of rest.
The offshore from La Rochelle to Bayonne began 15 July at 08H36. Under a north-easterly wind of 10-12 knots Force EDC had a good start arriving at the windward mark in third position. Throughout the morning the wind increased to around 18 knots and under spinnaker the boats were racing at 10 knots. At 12H56 Force EDC rounded the second mark top of the fleet in first position! The race was extremely close with all boats remaining within twomiles of each other, at 01H25 Force EDC finished in third position, their best result so far. A remarkable consistency was shown throughout the race by the British, Australian, Dutch crew, being the only boat to stay in the Top 3 from the start.
Simon Sutherland (right), skipper describes their progress: "We had a great race, we were winning for most of it but are still happy to come in third. It was a very close race because it was almost all downwind, as the pressure arrived the boats at the back would catch up with those at the front, keeping them very close together. We worked really hard so we did well, we tried to catch every wave, all the crew participated in grinding, etc, we burnt through two winches in the process!"
At the Tour's last Atlantic stopover, Force EDC, with a lead of 71.5 points on their principal rival, continues to be the uncontested leader of the student division, and are eighth in the general section, having remained in the Top 10 from the start.
Force EDS round the top mark in pole position