Although the top three teams in the general classification remain unchanged since yesterday, the first Mediterranean Act of the 41st Tour Voile featured two days of varying conditions and racing and brought the best out of several teams who appeared to hit their stride as the temperatures soared. The fast and furious pace of this event continues, however, as the Tour moves on this evening to its penultimate act in Hyères.
Team #SailingArabia – with Stevie Morrison, Mathieu Richard and Abdul Rahman on board – claimed their first victory of the Tour Voile 2018 in today’s Nautical Stadium leg in Gruissan. Concluding the fifth act of the tour in fine style the winners, powered by Oman Sail, were followed across the line by Team France Jeune who also notched up their best result of the event so far, seventh being their highest ranking in the 10 previous races. Third place went to Bernard Stamm’s Cheminées Poujoulat who were clearly on form today, having qualified top in their group to access the final.
The final push has most definitely begun as the pressure to qualify for Sunday’s Super Final grows. The two dominant leaders from the start of the event – Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan and Beijaflore – both qualified for today’s final and their respective fourth and fifth place finishes leave their positions in the overall classification unchanged. Lorina Limonade – Golfe du Morbihan maintains the overall leadership while Beijaflore slips back one point to sit six points behind them. A battle for bronze is shaping up nicely between Team Reseau Ixio, currently in third place on equal points with Lorina Mojito – Golfe du Morbihan, and today’s victors #SailingArabia – just three points behind.
Team Reseau Ixio failed to qualify for today’s final but an 11th place overall leaves them just about holding on to the lead in the separate Youth Classification, but now on equal points with Lorina Mojito– Golfe du Morbihan in second.
The relatively light southerly air off Gruissan beach today was a world away from yesterday’s gusting tramontane wind and the teams had a 90-minute wait on the water in searing sunshine before the coastal breeze filled in at 1 p.m.
Both #SailingArabia and their second crew on the development team Oman Sail made it into the final today, a much-needed turn of fortune since they lost Tour veteran Ali Al Balushi from their sailing contingent after an injury to his hand in Act 3, and had a difficult Act 4 in Baden, placing at the bottom of the fleet for the first time.
Stevie Morrison, co-skipper of #SailingArabia: “It was a great result for us and also great that Oman Sail qualified for the final, so a superb day for both teams on the tour. It’s great to have some sunshine but we just need a little bit more wind, we had very light winds all day and we didn’t really expect much current but there was a lot so that made starting difficult. We got started well and got ahead and picked the favoured left side of the course, Matt did a great job and Abdul and I kept the boat going smoothly.”
Baptiste Hulin, co-skipper Team France Jeune : “The coastal was difficult for us yesterday (23rd place) and getting onto the podium today was a great response to that. We had a major debriefing yesterday and we started from a good place this morning with a real desire to fight hard. This result has revitalised us.” Bernard Stamm, skipper Cheminées Poujoulat : “Our objective from the start was to finish in the top five in the tour and that is still doable. We’re happy to have left many of our close rivals behind today and it’s always good to gather up some points. We’ll keep fighting to the end, a lot can still happen”.