2003 Tour Voile

The course is announced

Wednesday December 4th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
45 teams are expected to take part in next year's Tour de France a la Voile (Tour Voile) event in fully crewed Mumm 30s.

The race will start from Dunkirk where the race build-up and prologue will take place. Dunkirk is of historic significant because it was from this port on the Channel that the first ever Tour de France started.

The boats must be in Dunkirk from 20 June to prepare for the opening of the Tour Village on 26 June and the prologue on 27 June. Two round the cans courses in the bay will take place the following day.

On 29 June will be the start of the first leg to Dieppe, the 14th time that the famous ferry port has been included on the Tour. The boats will then visit Cherbourg-Octeville (3-4 July), St Quay Portrieux (5-6 July).

This will be followed by the Atlantic coast stages of the race with the leg round Ouessant to Camaret-sur-Mer in the mouth of the Rade de Brest (8 July). The boats will then head south to St Nazaire (10-11 July) and beyond to Ile d'Oleron (12 and 13 July) off La Rochelle before arriving in Arcachon (14-17 July) where they will face the normal inshore courses dodging the sandbanks and oyster beds.

After the traditional breakdown of the fleet and convoy across to the Med by road, the racing will start again from Saint Cyprien to Sete (19-20 July) and then on to Ciotat (22-23 July) and Sainte Maxime (opposite St Tropez on 24-25 July) before the finish in the glamorous Cote d'Azur hotspot of Antibes Juan-les Pins.

Following 40 boats attending in 2002, the organisers see no reason why this should diminish and are expecting 45 for 2003. Remarkably there is a huge return contingent (around about 80%) and is expected that Britain will field several teams again (in 2002 there was a British boat in each of the pro, amateur and student classes). Adrian Stead is known be to be considering a return trip after winning in 2001. The Italians Federico Michetti and Vasco Vascotto are also expected to enter.

The boats used will once again be the Mumm 30 and earlier this year the race organisers announced that they would be sticking with this boat until 2008 (a change to the new Figaro boat had been mooted).

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