Second class for the 2014 Tour Voile
Organiser of the Tour de France à la Voile for the last two years, Amaury Sport Organisation is constantly developing the race created by Bernard Decré in 1978.
After assessing the future of the fleet for several months, ASO is attempting to improve young and amateur participation in the Tour de France à la Voile, along with professional teams. To help such teams to enter races in the future, ASO is going to add a second class with the Grand Surprise. This 9.54m long monohull is cheaper than the M34 and is a common keelboat widely used by young and amateur sailors. The Grand Surprise fleet is now one of the biggest one design fleets in Europe.
Amateur teams will be able to sail with one professional sailor onboard, but he/she won’t be allowed to steer during the inshore races.
Mixing M34 and Grand Surprise, the Tour de France à la Voile fleet will improve the competition.
“The Grand Surprise is a well-know, seaworthy and financially optimised one-design boat,” says ASO CEO Yann Le Moënner. “It seemed like the ideal boat to allow young and amateur teams to come back to this race they’ve been dreaming about alongside experienced sailors competing in M34. This evolution respects the event’s historical values. It helps us strengthening the fleet and renewing the history of the race, the door to offshore sailing for youngsters and amateurs.”
This decision already seems to be accepted by competitors – several student teams showed signs of interest for the 2014 race if there was a cheaper option.
The French Sailing Federation and its President, Jean-Pierre Champion, agrees with the change: “Welcoming a second boat in addition to the M34 for the 2014 edition of the Tour de France à la Voile is surely to best way to attract young, amateur and female teams again. The Grand Surprise fleet will be strictly one design (sails included) and it totally follows the French sailing lines our Federation is supporting,”
Grand Surprise Class President Jean-François Guilmard is looking forward to see the class’ teams entering the race. “It’s a recognition for a boat, whose success never stops since launching the class. Over 2000 Federation members have sailed a Grand Surprise in 2012, making it the leading one-design class.”