Cheminées Poujoulat burns bright in Hyères
Robin Follin, Gaulthier Germain and Antoine Rucard of Cheminées Poujoulat shot off the line in today’s Nautical Stadium Final and stormed around the course in textbook fashion, never really looking like they were in danger of being caught. Coupled with a fifth-place finish from overall leaders team Beijaflore, this performance brings them to just six points from the top spot on the Tour Voile with just two days to go. Behind them Team Réseau IXIO – Toulon Provence Méditerranée and Golfe du Morbihan Breizh Cola continue their own battle for a podium finish, posting second and third place finishes today respectively.
The top four spots in the General Classification will ultimately be decided over the weekend in Act 7 in Nice. Tomorrow brings a day of Nautical Stadium racing where teams will be grappling for those last few points that could make the difference in order to gain a place in the Top 10 and a golden ticket to the Super Final on Sunday – where double points are up for grabs.
Robin Follin, skipper of Cheminées Poujoulat has a good day but remained cautious on his return to shore. “It’s going to be tight right to the end. Like every year on the Tour Voile it all comes down to the last few days. That’s what makes this event so thrilling. It will be a fight to the very end. We hope to be in the position we want to be in for the final. There is still a day of nautical stadium racing to go tomorrow and so much can happen so we need to stay focused.” The Final held just metres from the beach in Hyères, to the delight of enthusiasts and sun worshippers alike, saw a fairly fickle thermal breeze characterise racing once again. Cheminées Poujoulat, however, never seemed to be in any doubt about their game plan, barrelling off the starting line and often choosing the left side of the course as their rivals took to the right. Their strategy paid off as they rounded mark after mark ahead of the fleet, consolidating their lead on each leg.
For the two Omani teams sitting in fifth and sixth heading into today’s racing, this was a chance to make up crucial points to bring them closer to a possible podium finish. In the end EFG Private Bank Monaco, skippered by Pierre Pennec, got into the final for just the third time, while Renaissance Services skippered by British double Olympian Stevie Morrison, failed to make the cut for what would have been their sixth final and so move down to sixth overall behind their colleagues.
Morrison was understandably disappointed to see his team’s hopes of a podium finish reduced to a sliver: “We made some mistakes. We’ve all sailed every day and most of the other teams have rotated a little so they’re probably a little bit fresher. But that’s not the reason we didn’t go through. There were some mistakes and it’s quite shifty windy and we got on the wrong side of that one too many times.”
As regards the next few days he was philosophical: “We just have to sail our best and try and enjoy it, I think there’s no chance we’ll be on the podium now so we’ll just go out and see if we can sail our best and what will come will come. We’ll do as well as we can from here going forward, but it’s not as well as we wanted to do.”
Other teams who failed to qualify for this penultimate Final, and will be cursing the missed opportunity, include the two Amateur teams currently sitting within the Top 10: CER Ville de Gèneve, in eighth place overall, and Gregory Lemarchal – Les Sables d’Olonne in tenth. Hot on their heels in 11th place, the all-female team on La Boulangère, who lead the Mixed Classification, have made no secret of their ambitions to score a Top 10 finish in this edition of the Tour and will be giving that their best shot tomorrow.
All teams are back on the road again this evening headed for their final destination in Nice where racing is scheduled to commence tomorrow, Saturday, at 12.30