Rob Greenhalgh’s Panther Team GBR won the practice race in the 25th Tour de France à la Voile yesterday

Rob Greenhalgh’s Panther Team GBR won the practice race in the 25th Tour de France à la Voile that took place off Dunkerque in Force 4 yesterday.

After a long postponement the 40 Mumm 30s got off to a clear start with Panther Team GBR taking the clean air and going right up the beat.

At the windward mark the fleet was tightly packed with Panther Team GBR followed by Jimmy Pahun’s Region Ile de France. The first run proved particularly dramatic with Sylvain Chtounder’s Theoule Mandelieu getting their spinnaker caught on a spectator boat and, on the second run, CSC Essec skippered by Hervé Gautier crashed gybed taking out several other boats in the process.

After rounding the third buoy the top positions for the race were well established, and Panther Team Panther went on to take victory. Their strong lead established caused French spectators to liken Panther Team GBR’s style and flare for sailing to that of Adrian Stead’s winning Barlo Plastics in 2000. Rob Greenhalgh commented: “We’re pleased with the boat speed and the way things went. We’re looking forward to doing some proper racing today. The top ten held places for three other foreign boats but also heralded surprises in the form of the student boat Ensam HEC who finished second overall. The latter is skippered by Marc Emig, a professional sailor, who has participated many times in this event.

Royal Thames, the other English boat, skippered by Owen Modral, had a successful race as they finished third in the amateur division. Although none of these places count for points, the British teams are demonstrating that they mean business and intent to reach their goals. The test will now be consistency and achieving a string of solid results, which are essential in order to win the Tour de France à la Voile.

Results

1st Panther Team GBR / Rob Greenhalgh

2nd ENSAM-HEC /Marc Emig

3rd Nantes -St-Nazaire / Pierre Loïc Berthet

4th Région Ile de France / Jimmy Pahun

5th Ville d’Antibes-NEC / Julien Farnarier