Suspense reaches summit for the two last races of the Tour de France à la Voile yesterday 31/7/06

The Tour de France à la Voile 2006 finished on a good note yesterday morning, south of Porquerolles, off Hyères. For the first time since the start of the race in Dunkerque on 29 June, the wind blew at more than 15 knots.

The 31 teams sailed the two last windward/ leeward races according to plan, but the pressure was on out on the race course. Six boats could have won this 29th edition and until the very last legs, the final ranking was still unsure. After the first race, where the team finished second, Defi Partage – Marseille was back in the lead overall, but after finishing 21st in the second race, they let Ile de France fly away with the victory. Jean-Pierre Nicol the skipper commented: “It was really tight. We had to keep an eye on many competitors and it was not easy to negotiate. This victory is magical. It’s a beautiful dream that comes true.”

Ile de France won the Amateur title last year and was actually dreaming of this overall victory since the first day they grabbed the Red Spinnaker on 4 July. In the whole race, Jean-Pierre Nicol and his team have been leading the fleet for five days and were second behind Defi Partage – Marseille for a long time. “We were aiming for the top of the podium, said Dimitri Deruelle, one of the three skippers of Defi Partage – Marseille. For the third time in the row in the history of the Tour de France à la Voile, the team from Marseille finished second overall.

Skipper Pierre-Loïc Berthet commented: “The penalty we received three days ago destabilized us psychologically. We tried to forget about the rankings today while racing, but the disappointed was too big”. Defi Partage – Marseille finishes 10.25 points behind Ile de France and 0.25 points in front of Matondo Congo- Route de l’équateur, third on the final podium.

In the Amateur Ranking, Ile Maurice – Naiade Resorts – EBSCO was almost certainly going to take first place and confirmed their leadership by finishing 8th and 14th in the last two races.

In the Student Ranking, the victory went to Cap Sport – HEC – Ecole Navale by just 1.5 point, despite the nice results of Mer Montagne – Les Saisies – INSA 10th and 5th in the last race. “They deserve to win as much as us, said the skipper Hervé Gautier. They did really well on this TFV. The difference was maybe in the energy, the motivation and a bit of luck. We had all these in the team and I think that’s why we are finishing first.” The Dutch team of VanUden TUDelft finished third overall.