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Tour de France à la Voile Act 4 in Arzon - Super Final

by Andi Robertson 16 Jul 2017 22:04 BST 12-13 July 2017

Trésors de Tahiti sailed by Teva Plichard, Pierre Pennec and Manu Mahai triumphed in a nail biting light wind Super Final on a fluky Bay of Quiberon, racing out of Port Crouesty, Arzon.

Crossing the line for their first win of the 40th Tour de France à la Voile they denied a popular local victory for the young guns of Lorina Mojito-Golfe du Morbihan. The team representing Tahiti take over the leadership of the Tour after Team SFS were penalised 9pts by the International Jury because their anchoring kit was measured as too light.

For the much anticipated Super Final in the Golfe du Morbihan sailing heartland that is home and training waters to many Tour crews of all ages and experiences it was unfortunate that the breezes did fill to provide a fitting spectacle.

The afternoon SW thermal sea breeze fought with the gradient NE'ly to produce very unsettled, fickle conditions which really tested light airs boat speed, clean starting and minimised manoeuvres in the Diam 24 trimarans. Indeed only three Qualifying Series races could be completed for each of the two groups before the airs became too light and unsailable.

Even so the Final started in just five to seven knots of breeze and it was the fast starting under gennaker which gave the early lead to Trésors de Tahiti and Lorina Mojito-Golfe Du Morbihan, Solune Robert and Riwan Perron's team – average age 20 – which won the Coastal Raid in Fécamp. The early jump on the short first sprint was key. The two leaders traded places three times during the Final but a perfect rounding of the last gate mark closed the door on the young team.

Winning skipper Plichart remarked: "It's a great victory, we are very satisfied and happy tonight. The qualification races were tense with very variable winds. In the final the wind was a little more stable and we knew we had to get away from the start and hold on to that little lead we had on Lorina Mojito. Team SFS gave us a small gift by jumping the start. And so it is all on again on the overall standins. But we don't get it out of proportion. There are five Acts and our goal is to finish the Tour on the podium. "

Louis Flament of runners up Team Lorina Mojito - Gulf of Morbihan, added, "We wanted to do well in this final. We are often told that our main weakness is our youth. Maybe that shows on the coastals when we are a bit inconsistent. But the more we do the more we will iron out these little difficulties."

Reflecting how the level has risen almost universally since the last edition when Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan dominated, many teams training hard through the off season bolstering their team line ups, Trésors de Tahiti are the sixth team to win from the eight premium points scoring races so far, four Coastal Raids and four Super Finals.

The team skippered by Tahiti's Plichart, who won the Tour in 2003 on Colours de Tahiti et ses Iles and was second in 2007 before a nine years Tour hiatus by the French Polynesian island group, move up to second overall on the Tour leaderboard.

Arzon-Port du Crouesty, Act 4 of nine, has not been good for Sofian Bouvet's event leaders Team SFS. Midway through Jullouville, Act 3 – after three coastal races and two stadium races – the debuting Mediterranean team were 22 points clear at the top. As they leave Arzon-Port du Crouesty and the 40th Tour heads tonight to Les Sables d'Olonne they cede their overall leadership due to measurement infringement.

Team SFS led by Sofian Bouvet was sanctioned this evening by the international jury. They are penalised 9 points of penalties and so lose the top of the overall rankings that they have held since the end of Act 1 in Dunkirk. Trésors de Tahiti now lead overall by six points from Team SFS with Team Oman Sail now four points behind them.

After a disappointing tenth is yesterday's coastal race when Team SFS compounded one bad tactical choice after another and 'felt slow', they jumped the start gun in today's Super Final. The first team to be black flagged in a Super Final on this Tour, they were relegated to the role of frustrated spectators. Their points penalty caps a disappointing weekend for them.

Similarly a poor start from Damien Seguin and Damien Ihel's Fondation FDJ-Des Pieds et Des Mains cost them and their Golfe du Morbihan weekend 11th in the coastal and eighth today sees them drop from second to fourth.

Two of the non-French international teams made eight team Super Final. Team Oman Sail were slow off the line but battled back to a useful sixth place which promotes them to third overall on the leaderboard.

"We made a bit of a hash of the start but Mat (Richards, tactician) did a great job of giving us opportunities and at the leeward mark the wind just shut down but we got an opportunity and took it." Said Stevie Morrison, Oman Sail's helm and co-skipper, "It is a bit irrelevant where you are on the leaderboard right now. You'd rather be leading than third, and rather be third than sixth, but this is such a long Tour. I still don't feel have really sailed well. We have sailed alright. I think we can win the stadium racing. And, personally, I really want to win a coastal race because I find them really good fun. We are happy. We are tired but we have a good spirit. We are quite relaxed and like to have a smile on our faces. There was a bit more tension in the team last year which has its positives over two or three days, but it is tiring and draining over a month of racing. Mat and Thierry (Douillard) are great guys and Ali and Abdul almost always are smiling. We have evolved as a team. Last year flattered us."

And the Spanish flagged New Territories made their second Super Final of this, their first ever Tour Voile, finishing fourth today, just ahead of Oman Sail, "We start well and now I feel that in the stadium races we can do OK. The coastal races are a disaster! We need to improve. I think our speed is improving all the time. But on the stadium races 80 per cent is the start and the race to the first mark." Said New Territories' Olympic bronze medallist Hugo Rocha.