After much talk and weather analysis, all 12 boats in the Tour de France a la Voile left Deauville at 11.15 in 10 knots of northerly wind and a strong current. The boats are bound for Brest, 245 miles to the west.
Competitors sailed upwind for a while to find more pressure on the right side of the race course – Normandie made the most of this with match racing ace Bertrand Pacé at the helm. Then they reached tack to Barfleur in 17 knots of wind - a wet and tough ride ending at the Basse Renier mark under fractional kite and, latterly, the big ones.
“We had a solid start and a solid, but wet reaching,” reported Leigh McMillan from onboard Team OmanSail. “We had a frustrating time with our fractional kite though. Now we just have to get back into the lead again.”
The wind dropped after the mark as the M34s turned their bow towards towards Cap Blanchard with the current. Average speeds are likely to pick up after La Hague Cape on a long downwind leg across to the Channel Islands. 15-20 knots from the northeast are forecast, building to 25 knots at Ouessant.
“We are going to hit the tidal change so we’ll spend some time in Blanchard,” said navigator Jean-Luc Nélias onboard Sodebo. “I’m wondering whether to stick to the French side and sail past Alderney. A downwind ride is waiting for us tonight, dealing with the current and trying to come back on the leaders.”
The night will be windy and tactical and the sunset on the most western part of France will tell it all. “The next hours will be all about the current and the wind rise. We are getting ready for a hell of a night!” concluded Jean-Baptiste Bernaz onboard TPM-Coych.
Estimated time of arrival in Brest, Brittany is around 11.30 tomorrow.
Overall results after 13 races:
1 GROUPAMA 34, CAMMAS Franck 467 pts - Blue Spinnaker
2 BRETAGNE CREDIT MUTUEL ELITE, TROUSSEL Nicolas 430 pts
3 COURRIER DUNKERQUE 3, SOUBEN Daniel 422 pts
4 TEAM OMANSAIL, POULIGNY Cédric 418 pts
5 SODEBO, COVILLE Thomas 399,5 pts
6 VILLE DE GENEVE - CARREFOUR ADDICTIONS, METTRAUX Elodie-Jane et GROUX Nicolas 372 pts
7 TOULON PROVENCE MEDITERRANEE - COYCH, BERNAZ Jean-Baptiste 362 pts
8 NANTES - SAINT NAZAIRE - E.LECLERC, DOUGUET Corentin 357 pts
9 NORMANDIE, CHOQUENET Baptiste 323 pts
10 ISKAREEN, DITTMERS Christiane et BRUHNS Sönke 320 pts
11 MARTINIQUE - BE.BRUSSELS, WOLTERS Delphine et MOURES Matthieu 292 pts
12 BIENNE - VOILE – SRS, PETER Luzius et KUNZ François 283 pts