Groupama 34 won today’s 41 mile offshore leg from Rosas, Spain to Gruissan, France in the Tour de France a la Voile, with Courrier Dunkerque 3 claiming second and Sodebo third
The fleet initially left Roses motoring towards Selva. The start gun was eventually fire once six knots had filled in from the northeast with Courrier Dunkerque rounding the windward mark first.
The sea breeze duly kicked in, reaching 15 knots, but its direction was not as east as planned. This factor affected sail choices with bigger spinnakers being set but then being taken down again and replaced by the fractionals.
“We were the first ones to hoist the fractional kite again and that paid very well,” said Sodebo helmsman Mathieu Richard. “We couldn’t sail the direct route anymore with the bigger one and with the fractional kite we were faster and sailing straight to Gruissan. That put us into third place.”
Another key sail change occurred around 1600. “Courrier Dunkerque was in the lead,” recounted Groupama 34 skipper, Franck Cammas, “and we overtook them by changing our kite before them and moving windward.”
All these spinnaker choices were crucial to today’s offshore leg, scored with a 2x co-efficient: Groupama’s victory, Courrier Dunkerque’s second place – who are now closing the gap on second overall Bretagne Crédit Mutuel now just 7 points ahead.
Normandie’s 4th place - the amateur crew sailed with three women onboard today, including Figaro skipper Claire Pruvot, and they are delighted with this result.
Franck Cammas, continued: “We’ve been lucky to finish first but it’s never with a big lead. There are 160 points left so nothing is over, mathematically speaking.”
Daniel Souben, skipper of Courrier Dunkerque 3 recounted his race: “We took off with a great start and led at the offset mark. We made the first sail changes well, but then the wind didn’t shift as planned. We had to go from the big kite to the smaller one and we waited a bit too long… Groupama was to weather and overtook us then, taking the lead and we never regained those three or four boatlengths. We are disappointed not to win this one, but it was not a bad one overall: we are getting closer to the second place, seven points behind Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Elite.”
Mathieu Richard, Sodebo helmsman said: “Very happy because we didn’t take a great start: we were in 9th or 10th position at some point. Anything can happen during such races; we did our best all along. There were many sail changes and that went well – more importantly, at the right time.”
François Kunz, Bienne Voile co-skipper added: “Our “south team” is delighted with this 10th place! We started very well even though that didn’t end up as planned. We worked hard, changing spinnakers and getting closer from our competitors. The same leg last year was too windy and this time around it was just fine. We are really motivated but training is missing.”
Tomorrow three in-port races in Gruissan are scheduled - weather permitting.
Results after 25 races:
1 GROUPAMA 34, CAMMAS Franck 968 pts - Blue spinnaker
2 BRETAGNE CREDIT MUTUEL ELITE, TROUSSEL Nicolas 896 pts
3 COURRIER DUNKERQUE 3, SOUBEN Daniel 889 pts
4 SODEBO, COVILLE Thomas 869, 7 pts
5 TEAM OMANSAIL, POULIGNY Cédric 857 pts
6 TOULON PROVENCE MEDITERRANEE - COYCH, BERNAZ Jean-Baptiste 767 pts
7 VILLE DE GENEVE - CARREFOUR ADDICTIONS, METTRAUX Elodie-Jane et GROUX Nicolas 751 pts
8 NANTES - SAINT NAZAIRE - E.LECLERC, DOUGUET Corentin 742 pts
9 NORMANDIE, CHOQUENET Baptiste 707 pts
10 MARTINIQUE - BE.BRUSSELS, WOLTERS Delphine et MOURES Matthieu 662 pts
11 ISKAREEN, DITTMERS Christiane et BRUHNS Sönke 651 pts
12 BIENNE - VOILE – SRS, PETER Luzius et KUNZ François 599 pts