20 teams anticipated for the Tour Voile
Registration for the Tour de France à la Voile 2013 has opened this morning, but the teams are already up and running, making preparations for the first event of the year, Spi Ouest France Intermarché taking place next month in La Trinité sur Mer, all in the build-up for the start of the main event in June from Dunkirk.
The most high profile entry this year will be Franck Cammas, winner of the last Volvo Ocean Race. Cammas is eager to join the Tour de France à la Voile, although he is also busy with Nacra 17 and Class C (Little America's Cup) campaign. For the Tour Voile, he has carefully chosen a team of sailors, many of them specialists in the race: Fabien Henry won the last TFV with TPM Coych while Julien Villion won the amateur class in 2011 and the overall in 2012 with TPM Coych as well. Groupama 34 is already training at the Sailing National School (ENV) in Quiberon and in their homeport of Lorient. The Groupama team is planning to sail 20 days prior to Spi Ouest France.
A key player of the M34 circuit, Courrier Dunkerque is training with Groupama 34. Skipper Daniel Souben and his crew are already sailing too. There is no time to loose for the Dunkirk guys, whose ambition is to win a third TFV.
Former Mini Transat winner Corentin Douguet is planning to launch his Nantes Saint Nazaire E. Leclerc early next week. The team from Nantes will once again see a combination of young sailors and veterans. Corentin has obviously chosen to use the French 470 squad as his recruiting ground. His crew includes Pierre Le Boucher (runner-up for the 470 World 2012 championship and 7th at the London Olympics 2012), Camille Lecointre (runner-up for the 470 World 2012 championship and 4th at the London Olympics) and Ronan Floc’h.
“The 470 is key,” said Douguet, who sailed this winter with some of his crew in a J/80 and in match racing. “We've really got a great team this year.”
Among the Bretons, two time Solitaire du Figaro winner, Nicolas Troussel, has also sailed in match racing with several of his crewmembers this winter and Bretagne Crédit Mutuel is qualified for the French championship in Antibes. Troussel is not planning to announce his team yet “because it’s a tactical asset with some 10 professional sailors,” he explains.
Régis Bérenguier is TPM Coych’s manager. The team won last year but Bérenguier also won’t announce his 2013 crew yet. The only known fact is that the TPM Coych crew will be entirely new. Coming from Hyères, the team should start their season late March at the SNIM in Marseille.
As for Ile de France, Jimmy Pahun is keeping a similar team. Last year, his crew fought well - why change a winning combination? However Vincent Riou, winner of the Vendée Globe 2004-05, will join them for the English Channel and Atlantic stages of the race. Ile de France started sailing this week. “The boat is ready to go. We’ve never started sailing that early,” commented Pahun.
The Southern sailors could surprise us too. Kito de Pavant recently launched a project using skills and companies from the South of France – he calls it ‘the Southern strengths’. Kito knows the race well, but it will be his first time as a skipper.
In Switzerland, Ville de Genève-Carrefour AddictionS is training to compete in the pro class. In the coming weeks the Swiss team will sail with the CEM in La Grande Motte. “There are many rookies in our team," says Elodie Jane Mettraux. "They know the CER and couple of veterans will manage them during the TFV when their racing schedule will allow them. We are now training new helmsmen, tacticians/navigators, trimmers, and bowmen… We are working on growing together for the next three years. A new CER team is taking shape and we are really much looking forward to the 2013 TFV.”
The amateur team Iskareen will start training at home in Germany in March. They will join the circuit for the Normandy Sailing Week, hoping to join all the other M34s this summer along the French coast. Other amateur teams are trying to get budgets together for this summer's race: Mathieu Moures from Martinique, Bienne Voile in Switzerland, Mady Fobert in Belgium, Normandy or Cotes d’Armor. A Spanish team led by Andrés Guerra and different crews from the Netherlands are also working hard to take part in the race this summer. There is also Marcel Herrera's team from the University of Plymouth, that recently competed in EFG Bank Sailing Arabia - The Tour as Messe Frankfurt.
When the Tour de France à la Voile 2013 sets sail from Dunkirk on 28 June this year, amateurs and professionals will start the month-long battle and a fleet of around 20 boats is expected.