Tough start to Tour de France for Team Oz

It was a baptism of fire for the only Australian team competing in the Tour de France offshore series on day one. The team, headed by Brett Dryland and Rod Waterhouse are in second-last place in the 28 boat fleet. Here's the official media release:

Jean-Christophe Mourniac, Tim Mourniac and Pierre-Yves Durand won the first race of Act 1 in the 38th Tour de France à la Voile. They crossed the finish line of the coastal race off Malo-les-Bains (Dunkirk seaside) at 16.39 after more than four hours and a half of racing. Grand Nature Vérandas led the fleet most of the way to take the win one minute in front of Spindrift, with Corinthian team Vannes Agglo – Golfe du Morbihan finishing third just 31 seconds behind.

They were not part of the pre-event favourites, having taken possession of their Diam 24 just two weeks ago. Their skipper Fred Duthil was not even onboard today, as he chose to accompany the team sponsors on the water to watch the race. Yet the multihull specialist (F18, Tornado, ORMA60) Jean-Christophe Mourniac and his crew seemed to have no

trouble leading the fleet for most of the 45 mile long first coastal race. With his 17 year old son Tim (5th in the F18 world championships) at the helm and Pierre-Yves Durand (beach catamaran specialist) trimming the front sails, Jean-Christophe took the lead during the long upwind leg towards Belgium in front of the pre-event favourites Groupama, Spindrift and PRB. And they never lost it, crossing the finish line in first to grab the win.

After their win in the Grand Prix Atlantic in April, Spindrift’s second place on the podium was more expected. In a north to north-easterly breeze 10/15 knots and a beautiful sunshine, the fleet had the perfect conditions to perform. And the other nice performance of the day is the one of Vannes Agglo – Golfe du Morbihan. Quentin Delapierre, Matthieu Salomon et Kevin Péponnet are not professionnal sailors, and they’ve just finished in front of top teams like Groupama, PRB, Sodebo, or Combiwest. But their third place is not really a surprise looking at the early season’s results. Vannes Agglo finished second overall in the Normandy Sailing Week in June and in the Grand Prix Guyader in May. And the youngest crew of the fleet (22 years old average) already has an impressive sailing background, with many titles in dinghy sailing french, european and world championships.

The opening race of the Tour’s new format was a huge success, with crowds of people watching the show from the beach, specially when the fleet was gybing and crossing downwind towards the finish line or reaching 17 knots of boat speed.

Tomorrow the teams will have a break in the competition, with three zero scoring exhibition races. 


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