Hyères hero of the day, claiming their fifth win of the contest and closing the gap with the leaders of the general classification to three points was Beijaflore. The team composed of Valentin Bellet, Guillaume Pirouelle and Valentin Sipan honed their craft throughout a long day of sailing and led today’s final race comfortably from start to finish. Second were the young pretenders of Team Reseau Ixio, in third place overall and hanging determinedly onto that position ahead of Lorina Mojito Golfe du Morbihan who placed fourth today.
Over the years it has been proven that anything can happen on this tour and teams cannot afford to take their eyes off the prize even for a split second. Leaders Lorina Limonade will be assessing this evening how they managed their poorest showing yet in a Nautical Stadium final as they placed seventh out of eight boats. They retain the Tour leader’s blue gennaker but would’ve been happier extending their lead today rather than diminishing it.
It really is Hyères today, gone tomorrow, as the Tour ups sticks once again and heads for its final destination in Nice and the last day of Nautical Stadium racing before the Super Final on Sunday. In addition to the leaders determined to hold on to their hard-won top spots, a number of crews will by vying to ensure their entry into the all-important Super Final, where double points are awarded. Hovering just outside the top five, Cheminee Poujoulat (third place today) is an ever-present threat and with podium finishes in their last three races are gaining points on #SaillingArabia in fifth.
As usual in this seven-leg, multi-stop contest, consistency and determination paid off as the 26 participating teams battled for a place in today’s final over the course of five qualifying races held in a lively south-westerly breeze and under an unrelentingly hot Mediterranean sun.
In the first group the leaders of the overall classification Lorina Limonade Golfe du Morbihan and their closest rivals Beijaflore both qualified. They were joined by two of the promising young teams on the Tour – Team France Jeune and Dunkerque Voile – both of whom have delivered excellent results over the course of the tour but whose lack of overall consistency sees them sitting below the top eight in the general rankings.
The other qualifying races also saw two seasoned crews make the cut together with a pair of up-and-coming young teams. Reseau Ixio, who have been ramping up their performances over the past few legs, qualified along with Lorina Mojito Golfe du Morbihan, their closest rivals at the top of the youth classification. The #SailingArabia team, by now a Tour Voile regular, and Cheminees Poujoulat, which boasts veteran racers Bernard Stamm and Jean-Christophe Mourniac among its line-up, completed the quota for today’s decisive race.
The final race, set against the beautiful bay of Hyères which hosts the French President’s official summer retreat, was a textbook one for Beijaflore who nailed a great start and maintained a clear margin throughout. In 17-18 knots of breeze they were followed at a safe distance by Team Reseau Ixio for the duration while a few match-race style battles went on further back in the fleet.
Valentin Bellet, skipper of Beijaflore: “We hadn’t had a win since Baden, two acts ago, all three of us are so happy and the counter performance by Lorina Limonade means it’s very positive for us as regards points. It’s good to close the gap with Lorina after a few very strong days from them. We got better during the qualifying races, making a few adjustments throughout the day to get the most out of this final. Now we want to keep sailing well and we’ll see the results at the end.”
Sandro Lacan, skipper of Team Réseau Ixio : “It was a great day for us and a great Act as we finished second in the Coastal raid and the Nautical Stadium. We have consolidated our third place but the Super Final in Nice will count double. We’re in a good position bot nothing is assured.”
Bernard Stamm, skipper of Cheminées Poujoulat: “We did well in the qualification phases. Then in the final we were still missing a little something to win, but third place is not bad at all. Our objective of finishing in the top five is within reach. I’m almost certain everything will come down to the Super Final in Nice on Sunday.”
DE LA COMBATIVITÉ
HELVETIA BLUE BY NORMANDY ELITE TEAM