Tour Voile diary

John Greenland looks at the form of the three British teams taking part in the Tour Voile
Just three short weeks have passed since the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race and already the yachting community has moved on to the next event, the Tour de France a la Voile. This year two British teams have accepted the challenge of this gruelling 30 day event. Robert Greenhalgh, skippering Simon Sarsfield's Panther in the Professional division, and Owen Modral, skippering Royal Thames in the amateur division, have each entered the event intending to win their category of racing. Time and time again French sailors return to this intense one design event which sees teams race around the coast of France for the month of July - the largest leg being some 244nm of punishing racing around the north eastern tip of France. Over the past three years the event has rapidly risen in prestige, last year several America's Cup teams - in particular Team New Zealand - have entered the event. Two years ago Adrian Stead, skippering Barlo Plastics, won the event. Many of the team graduated to compete the 2001-2 Volvo Ocean Race. Last year it was the turn of the student team, led by Simon Shaw, to fight for Team GBR. Again, they were successful, winning the Student division and finishing ninth overall. The question is - who's involved, and what are their chances... Scanning through the sailing CVs of the Greenhalgh's team it is clear the campaign means business. Ever since the Mumm 30 Worlds in Sardinia last year, where the team finished fourth, Greenhalgh has been focused on this event. Fortunately the team secured funding early, which is a vital element as so convincingly shown by John Kostecki's illbruck Challenge in the Volvo. While French teams worried about finance, the Panther squad focused on testing and handling. When the French teams were concentrating on crew work,