Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan, the defending champions, got their fizz back today at the fashionable beachside summer resort of Jullouville on the beautiful Baie du Mont Saint-Michel on the 40th edition of the Tour de France à la Voile when they won Act 3’s Coastal Race ahead of Tour leaders Team SFS.
Around a triangle shaped coastal course of around 40 nautical miles, defined by turning marks at the Isles de Chausey – to the NW of the start – a long downwind offshore to turn at the picture postcard Mont St Michel reaching to the finish off the beach in front of a big holiday crowd, Lorina Limonade –Golfe du Morbihan crossed the line first, just ahead of Tour leaders Team SFS with early race leaders Coved-Paprec in third and Beijaflore in fourth.
Lorina Limonade, the team which dominated last year’s round France circuit, winning the event with an Act to spare, misfired in Dunkirk – notably having to retire during the Qualification Series with damage sustained in a start line collision. But in light to moderate sea breeze conditions today Team Lorina Limonade got ahead of their nearest rivals Coved-Paprec and Team SFS on the approach to Mont Saint Michel and could not be caught on the straight line sprint to the finish.
Quentin Delapierre, skipper of Team Lorina – Golfe du Morbihan was relieved and visibly pleased as his team moves one place up the leaderboard to ninth overall, but at 38pts behind the Tour leaders Delapierre conceded wryly, “Overall victory is no longer in our grasp, but we’re trying to win as much as we can and pull together. Whatever happens, this is great team and we’ll be doing our utmost to get as well placed as we can in the rankings in Nice.”
Second today Sofian Bouvet’s Team SFS increase their overall margin at the head of the Tour standings to 20pts. Over the five races to date, three Coastal, two Stadium, they have sailed 1,1,2,3,2. They lead during the downwind three cornered tussle to Mont St Michel but Team Lorina Limonade got the shift and pressure on the approach.
Today’s winning skipper Delapierre added, “That win is good for us. You don’t need to tell me! It was complicated. We got off to a good start, and in the first third we had good speed. After that, either we had weed or some other problem, as we weren’t as fast. We didn’t do well passing the clearance buoy. It’s been hard since Dunkirk, so we are getting used to that sort of situation. We never gave up. Kévin really prepared the course strategy and navigation well. With Bruno, we did what we could to keep the boat moving as best we could. We enjoyed the final downwind run, as the boat was more like the one we were used to manoeuvring. Even in the pre-season, we didn’t really manage that. This win does us good. Finishing was a relief and we really enjoyed it. For Kévin, there was a lot of stress, as it wasn’t really right for the forecast he had. He tried some tricks upwind, but the wind was further left than forecast. Bruno and I just kept trying to keep the boat going. It was a bit of a fight, so we’re not satisfied with everything. We need to find some solutions. We tidied things up. ”
Aurélien Ducroz’s Team Coved-Paprec, fourth overall last year, were the early leaders but slipped to third at that key final southernmost turn. Chamonix based Ducroz was better known as the double freeride ski world champion, took up offshore racing seven years ago, racing in the Mini 6.50 class, the Class 40 and Figaro. He spends 130 days on snow skiing and now a good 100 days a year sailing or racing. He spent the Spring skiing in Spitzbergen and aims to compete in the Vendée Globe in 2020. In November he will race the Transat Jacques Vabre with Vendée Globe 15th placed finisher Romain Attanasio.
Ducroz, who does the bow of the boat, explained today. ‘We were at the front for more than half of the race. Lorina Limonade – Gulf de Morbihan were inshore on the run SFS and Beijaflore on the right offshore with the majority of the fleet behind. At some point you have to decide who to cover. We left Lorina to cover the others and that let them off the hook. But it is good to be up the front, seeing we have speed and can live with the best guys. But it is a good day, a new start for our Tour.”
Team Oman Sail move up to fifth place overall on the results ladder, finishing sixth today. They lost one place on the approach to the last turn but were always in the leading mix. Matthieu Richards, match racing champion and navigator/strategist recalled:
“There were some windshifts we missed on the run a bit and we were struggling for speed at times, maybe not enough gennaker halyard tension, so we lost one place downwind. There are three boats which I feel are a step ahead, Team SFS, Beijaflore and Lorina Limonade, then there are a group of us behind.”
Beijaflore, with Kiwi Jason Saunders on board, finished fourth today and lie fourth overall, just two points above Oman Sail.
by A.S.O./Tour de France à la voile