Today’s rest day may not actual entail much repose, but it will allow the 23 teams taking part in the 42nd Tour Voile to travel overland from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean. After legs on the North Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic, three more Acts – equating to six days of racing – are left to play out before the end of the competition on Sunday 21st July.
The battle is very much alive among the top teams in the General Classification given that the leader, Team Beijaflore, sits just two points clear of Cheminées Poujoulat in second place and 10 points ahead of Team Réseau Ixio – Toulon Provence Méditerranée in third. Aside from the general classification, the battle also rages on within the various groups competing for the Youth, Mixed and Amateur rankings.
For the past two years the leadership battle has come right down to the wire in the Super Final in Nice, and it is looking likely that this could once again be the case in 2019. With the top 10 teams qualifying and double points awarded, the final clash taking place next weekend is set to be a nail-biting affair. Since the Tour Voile got underway in Dunkirk on 5th July the current top three – Team Beijaflore (skipper: Valentin Bellet), Cheminées Poujoulat (Robin Follin) and Team Réseau IXIO – Toulon Provence Méditerranée (Tim Mourniac) – have not let up the pressure. They are the only teams never to have missed out on a Nautical Stadium Final up to now, and with a just 10-point delta from first to third place, previous experience shows that everything could change very quickly, particularly in the upcoming Coastal Raid competitions.
Although the top trio currently hold a fairly comfortable lead over their closest rivals, much could happen over six days of racing in the Med and the teams coming up behind them will keep the pressure on right up to the final races in the Bay of Angels. Despite having nailed three convincing wins in the Nautical Stadium races, the Omani team of Renaissance Services (Stevie Morrison) holds fourth place, 25 points behind Réseau IXIO – Toulon Provence Méditerranée. They in turn are hotly pursued by Golfe du Morbihan Breizh Cola (Solune Robert/Riwan Perron) and EFG Private Bank Monaco (Pierre Pennec). All three have been racing at a very high level but have lacked the consistency necessary to hit the top of the leaderboard, each will be fighting for their place in the top five, and each will ready to jump on the slightest mistakes made by the leaders.
Seven of the 23 teams taking part are racing in the Youth Classification, which is dominated by Cheminées Poujoulat, who boast a clear lead over Golfe du Morbihan Breizh Cola and Océwood #Waterfamily (Baptiste Hulin/Simon Bertheau). These three are also sitting within the top 10 of the general classification and will be hard for the rest of the group to catch.
The Amateur Classification has also produced some interesting battles, notably between Gregory Lemarchal Les Sables d’Olonne (Emeric Dary) and CER – Ville de Genève (Victor Casas/Laurane Mettraux), who hold seventh and eighth place respectively in the General Classification, with just a single point between them. Both have performed consistently well, managing to qualify for five of the six Nautical Stadium finals, and both will be intent on consolidating their rankings and upsetting the hierarchy.
In the Mixed Classification meanwhile it is no surprise that the girls of team La Boulangère are at the top of the class. Skipper Mathilde Géron and her crew are aiming at a good final placing in the General Classification and will be looking to regain the momentum they showed at the start of the Tour. Although La Boulangère has stretched far ahead of the other female teams, behind them only nine points separate Helvetia Purple by Normandy Elite Team (Pauline Courtois) and the Omani team EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour (Audrey Ogereau).