- Up to 25 knots of wind along the cliffs of Normandy
- Another victory for Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan
- Fierce battle between Grandeur Nature Véranda and Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne
- Six squads from Normandy out of 24
As the second stage of the 2016 Tour Voile, competition has moved from Dunkirk, to Dieppe in Normandy, where racing will take place over July 11 and 12. And for day 1 of Act 2, the fleet had another day of testing conditions with up to 25 knots at one mark of the course that took the 24 boats east and west of Dieppe along the spectacular chalk cliffs of Normandy.
The trimarans sailed the 32 mile course in a bit more than three hours, but the solid breeze and choppy seas were hard on the crew. « Our team trained for medium winds, not for these strong winds that are unsual in July », said Fred Guilmin, crewmember on Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne. « We should have milder conditions in Roscoff and Baden, and then maybe stronger winds again in Roses and Gruissan. We will see ». « That’s a pretty intense start for a TFV », said CMB skipper Nicolas Troussel. « We’ve had solid winds for a couple of days now, so it’s getting hard physically, but our crew had a huge TFV experience and we take turns onboard. We have to rest before getting too tired, and we know how to manage that ! »
One team seems to enjoy these conditions : Team Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan. Today Matthieu Salomon and Quentin Delapierre scored a third victory in three days of racing, and have demonstrated amazing skills to sail faster than other boats upwind. Despite an average start, they climbed up the fleet in the first beat and finished with a comfortable lead over Grandeur Nature Veranda and Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne. « It was a tricky course, with waves and strong gusts », said Salomon. « It was very hard physically. We didn’t do a great start, but Quentin (Ponroy) took a great tactical option and then we just had to follow the navigation that Hervé Gautier prepared for us this morning. All we had to do was to focus on our boat speed. And for sure, we enjoy strong wind conditions upwind ».
Grandeur Nature Véranda will also be a team to watch this year, as Jean-Christophe Mourniac comes back in the TFV after last year’s third place overall. Today they fought a fierce battle with Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne juste behind Team Lorina. « For now the Lorina young guys are winning, but we are slowly putting pressure on them. The Tour if three week long and I think we will have better stages in the Mediterranean that we did last year. We haven’t sailed much this year before the Tour so it takes us more time to find the pace. But we are getting there. We just have to be careful and not lose too many points », said Mourniac.
Dieppe has hosted the Tour Voile 27 times in 39 years, but welcomes the fleet of Diam24 for the first time. And this year, the Normandy region is represented by six teams out of 24. Helvétia Blue by Normandy Elite Team is one of them. The local team, skippered by Guillaume Pirouelle and Victor Migraine arrives in its home land after performing in yesterday’s stadium racing and scoring a fantastic 6th place in the grand final. « It was amazing to be part of the grand final yesterday. The racing is different with 6 boats instead of 12, but there is no room for error. It’s definitely the race to win. You have to give your best », said Pirouelle this morning at the media conference.
Helvétia Purple by Normandy Elite Team is another local team, 100% female crewed. Pauline Courtois is the co-skipper (with Jennifer Poret), and as a match-race specialist, she knows about intense, short and fast racing format. « It’s really exciting and although I come from keelboat sailing I wanted to come and try out the Diam24. The great aspect about the Tour de France à la Voile is it gathers really high level sailors from all horizons, and now multihull sailing is everywhere, even in the World Match Racing Tour with the M32 catamarans ! »
Tomorrow is day 2 of Act 2, and another string of six inshore races are scheduled to offer the teams a chance to qualify for Dieppe stadium Grand Final at 3.45pm.