- Exhibition races for media, sponsors, and spectators
- No scoring, but a good test for tomorrow’s stadium races
- Focus on the Tour’s non-french teams
The fleet had a break from the competition today in Dunkirk. They sailed a series of exhibition races to offer a few hours of action for the crowds who came in force to the beach of Malo les Bains. The results will not be taken into consideration, but this day of sailing in a nice conditions was a perfect test before tomorrow’s first string of stadium inshore races.
Sunshine, flat seas, 10-15 knots of breeze. Who could ask for more? The media and team guests who stepped onboard each Diam24 had the perfect conditions to get a taste at the light, fast and fun trimaran.
The top team led the game, with Cardinal – FenêtréA finishing first the today’s scoreboard, after a win and two podium places. Julien Villion « great conditions on the race course, but we had a strong current so it was technically challenging. It was a bit like a friendly game today as we were not in real race conditions with a guest onboard, but it’s always good practicing starts and crew work ».
Three non-french teams, and potentially more next year
Growing international is one of the Tour de France à la Voile objective. Last year, the event attracted two teams from abroad. And this year, they are three.
Be – Brussels (BEL18) is a belgian campaign led by one of the Tour Voile’s historical figure, Mady Fobert who has brought young and amateur sailors to the event since 1993. After missing last year’s edition, the belgian squad is back with a group of multihull sailors including Nicolas Spilleboudt as the skipper. The enthusiasted crew had a few training sessions in Nieuwpoort before the Tour, but not enough to expect a valuable result. « We all know each other well because we’ve been sailing together for a while but we are discovering a new boat and we haven’t had enough training. Our objective is simply to keep the boat together and to finish the Tour. If we can score a few good races, we will be happy and it will be a nice start for us », said crewmember Morgan Good.
Although he is based in Britanny and is surrounded by a french crew, Swiss offshore sailor Bernard Stamm would not give up his SUI29 sail number. This year is Cheminées Poujoulatsecond campaign on the Diam 24, and they are back with a valuable knowledge that could take them to the top 10. « We know how challenging this event is and we are still learning, but we are hoping to see our results improve throughout the Tour and we are aiming for a top 10 position overall », said Stamm. This year, the Swiss skipper has surrounded himself with olympic sailors Marie Soler and Hugues Puimatto and offshore sailor Gwen Riou.
Oman Airports By OmanSail is the most promising non-french team this year. By finishing 4th of yesterday’s coastal race they have already shown a fantastic potential and could definitely win a few races in this Tour. OMA22 is skippered by multihull sailor Stevie Morrison and match racing sailor Thierry Douillard. The French-British pair have two Omanis (Abdulhaman Al Mashari and Ali Al Balushi) and another talented French crew onboard (Pierre Leboucher). Thierry Douillard, who is the only sailor in the 2016 TFV to have won the event before. « I’ve done the Tour de France a dozen times, the first one being in 1992 or 1993, and I’ve won four of them, one on a Jod35, two on the Mumm and one last year on the Diam24. Few sailing events offer three weeks of racing like this one. The new format is nice, quite similar to what I’ve experienced in the Extreme Sailing Series. I was not sure I would come back this year, but the Oman Sail campaign is very nice because it’s international. That’s what I like about it ! »
A future Diam 24 campaign from Poland ?
Piotr Weltrowski and Filip Walczak are two multihull sailors from Poland. They come from Sopot on the Baltic coast where they have sailed F18 and A Class boats. In September last year Filip took part in the Little America’s Cup with the german team on Lake Geneva and after thinking of a Flying Phantom project, Piotr and Filip have finally chosen to build a Diam24 campaign for next year. « The Flying Phantom is a great boat but the events are not that attractive for a sponsor. Whereas the Tour de France à la Voile is very professionnal and it offers amazing opportunities », says Piotr. « Jean-Christophe Mourniac first told me about it, so Filip and I decided to follow the whole Tour in order to learn more about the event and the boat. I was a guest onboard one of the Diam24 today in the exhibition races. It was my first time on this trimaran and I loved it. It’s fast and it’s fun ! »