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Tour Voile starts Friday with a strong international flavour

by Tour Voile 4 Jul 22:12 BST 5-21 July 2019
Tour Voile 2019 © Morgan Bove / A.S.O

The 42nd edition of the Tour Voile starts Friday off Dunkirk in the northeat corner of France with 23 teams set to line up for the gruelling annual multi stop circuit. Racing spans 15 days of Diam 24 OD competition at seven towns and cities culminating in the Grand Final in Nice on 21st July when the 2019 champions will be crowned.

Dunkirk hosts the Grand Départ for the 33rd time in the history of the Tour. From the very first start gun to the final finish gun in Nice, the pressure on the crews and their support teams is relentless. Performing on the water needs to be complemented by smooth, accomplished logistics and perfect reliability across the entire duration of the Tour. Even just a couple of years ago one of the top seeds faltered on the opening weekend in Dunkirk, sustaining damage in one race which ultimately cost them the overall victory.

While the primary goal is to top the general classification, for the first time 2019 sees four different rankings, General, Jeune (youth), Mixed (mixed gender), and Amateur. Dunkirk's long, sandy Malo Les Bains beaches, popular with locals and visitors alike, is the perfect vantage to watch the close to.

The Grand Depart in Dunkirk over the next three days and Nice's Super Final host only stadium nautique style racing whilst Fécamp, Jullouville, Les Sables d'Olonne, Port Bacarès and Hyères each comprise one day of coastal racing - Raid Côtiers - and one day of knockout Stade Nautique. The coastal races normally most of the day, starting at 1230hrs, and cover about 40 nautical miles. The following day each team should race six 15 minutes qualifying heats for two different divisions. The four top teams from each group, A and B, then compete in the Final which is run each day between 1600hrs and 1700hrs.

The pursuit of the overall title, won last year by Lorina Limonade skippered by Quentin Delapierre, is expected to be close. Neither Delapierre nor the team are back this year to defend the 2018 championship. Any one of four of five different teams have an equal chance of success. Cheminées Poujoulat is skippered by French Youth America's Cup sailor Robin Follin and contains several members of the Team Réseau Ixio which finished third last year. Team Beijaflore were second last year and return with Valentin Sipan and Guillaume Pirouelle - 470 youth world champions turned Youth America's Cup sailors - in charge. They have already won Sailing Arabia The Tour this year.

Follin said, "We've been waiting for this for a long time. We are ready to attack. The conditions are set to be quite light in Dunkerque and we like that. Our preparation has been very good but we know our rivals have had the same level of training too. To perform on the Tour, you have to be good every day and sometimes be able to step up the level. We do not consider ourselves favourites, we just want to play our best game as we have done since the beginning of the season, not necessarily going out to lead from Day 1. "

Oman Sail field four teams this year. The two pro teams, EFG Private Bank skippered by 2000 Tornado Olympian Pierre Pennec and Renaissance Services skippered by English double Olympian Stevie Morrison both have excellent podium potential. But the pro teams are complemented for the first time ever by an all Omani team racing in their own right - Team Oman Sail skippered by Akram Al Wahibi - and an all Women team, Sailing Arabia The Tour which is made up of three Omani girls complemented by French multihull Nacra ace Audrey Ogereau and Maelenn Lemaitre.

"It is awesome that we have an all Oman Team on the Tour for the first time. That represents real progress. If you look at their boat handling and the speed they sail the boat they are in the game but just have not yet raced enough at this level. When situations arise which are not what we have managed to train so far in Oman then they are a bit caught out at times. So the are very much a work in progress with great potential." Explains Stevie Morrison, the Briton who competes on his fourth Tour in the Oman colours.

The Oman Diam24 OD programme has been managed by Franck Cammas Sailing. Although the French Volvo Ocean Race and 2013 Tour Voile winner will not race as planned, the teams enjoyed spells of early season training with Cammas which made a positive impact, according to Morrison,

"Franck brings an attention to detail and work ethic which is very impressive. He was with us training every day in Oman in the winter when we were training. The fact we have a massive project with four boats is great and a massive step up. Franck is not scared of this kind of project." Says Morrison who finished fourth on the 2018 Tour Voile with #sailingarabia last year.

There are eight non French teams competing this year. The European team on Pink Lady - Pays de L'Or Sud De France return to race at a higher level that last year, aiming for a top five finish. Skippered by Gabriel Skocjek (FRA), the crew includes Belgian Pieter Tack, Germany's Joahann Kohlhoff and Italian Jacopo Rizzi.

The set of the 42nd edition of Tour Voile in figures

  • 23 crews
  • Four rankings: General (nine crews), Young (seven crews), Mixed (four crews), Amateur (three crews)
42nd Tour Voile comprises:
  • Act 1: Dunkirk (5-6-7 July)
  • Act 2: Fécamp (July 8-9)
  • Act 3: Jullouville (July 10-11)
  • Act 4: Les Sables d'Olonne (July 13-14)
  • Act 5: Port Barcarès (16-17 July)
  • Act 6: Hyères (July 18-19)
  • Act 7: Nice (20-21 July)

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