Tour de France à la Voile – Team SFS extend

Back for a second challenge on the Tour de France à la Voile after their debut in 2015, Beijaflore Sailing Team collected maximum points today as winners of the Stage 2’s Stade Nautique Final in Fécamp on France’s Côte d’Albâtre, just east of Le Havre.

With 2012 ISAF Youth 420 World Champion and 470 Junior World Champion Guillaume Pirouelle, from nearby Le Havre on the helm, Kiwi double Olympian Jason Saunders on tactics and skipper Valentin Bellet, Beijaflore overhauled the early leaders of the eight boat Super Final, Coastal Race winners Lorina Mojito-Golfe de Morbihan at the top of the second beat and held on to win.

After brisk 12-14kts SW’ly winds for five sparkling qualifying rounds, the breeze faded to 7-9kts for the Super Final, making the strong tidal flow a key factor in each decision. For Beijaflore, making sure they had set up perfectly for the lighter airs was an important component in their winning mix.

The super consistent overall leaders of the Tour Sofian Bouvet’s Team SFS Voile extend their margin to 13pts. They finished third today and now have sailed 1,1,2,3, never off the podium as the circus train moves Julloville where racing starts again on Thursday 13th July. Second overall are Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et Des Mains (Damien Seguin and Damien Iehl) and third are Teva Plichart’s Trésors de Tahiti.

Beijaflore return to the 40th edition of the annual Tour Voile with the stated aim of winning outright. The team which is centred at Chatelaillon south of La Rochelle did not make a strong enough start at Act 1 in Dunkirk, 11th in the long race and 14th in the Stadium Nautique. But, adding 50pts – the maximum allocation for winning the Fécamp SuperFinal – to 48pts for third on yesterday’s Coastal Race sees them elevated to fifth overall on the Tour de France à la Voile’s General Standings after two Acts.

“We wanted to be conservative in the qualifying series and make sure we could ramp it up for the Super Final.” Said Saunders, “ That is what we did. The current played a big part in the day. First it was pushing us down a lot and then it was pushing us upwind a lot. And the wind, was crazy. It was very light in the final and we just made sure we were right on top of our boat set up, changing it to make sure we were always fast.”

We have done a lot of training. We have had some good results. We have good starts, we have good speed and how we sail the boat around the course, we know we can win the event. We just need to sail like we did today.

Saunders added: “At the moment we are going well but you just don’t really look at the overall points and the leader board. There is such a long way to go.”

The young team on Lorina Mojito who fly the pink colured gennaker as leaders of the Youth division started out with a big lead today and looked odds on to complete the double, and add the Super Final points to the win in the Coastal Raid, but with second today they are the top scoring team of Act 2 and lie seventh overall.

Upwards progress of sorts for Oman Sail who sailed a good Qualifying Series and finished fifth in the Super Final. They were slightly tame after the start line in the lighter conditions. Although still sixth on the General Standings they are on the same aggregate points as Beijaflore and only ten points separate second from seventh.
“It was a lot lighter in the Final and maybe we were not powered up enough and so a little slow at the top of the first reach where SFS rolled over the top of us.  That is unusual so we were not so quick. Then it was a race of patience. We sailed well today, started well. Maybe in the Final we need to add more risk, then you have to judge that. We are happy enough.” Oman Sail Helm Stevie Morrison concluded today. 

After winning their first race of the day, going 7,8 in their other two heats Hugo Rocha and the Spanish flagged New Territories crew were challenging to make the Act 2 Final when their port float rudder was hit and damaged. New Territories flagged the other team who were disqualified but the damage meant they had to return to the dock in Fécamp, forego any chance of racing in Race 5 and therefore of making the Final.
“It’s disappointing not to get redress but that seems to be the rules, it is like F1 if you are damaged you are out. But that’s the rules. It was good to get a win though and we will be ready for the next race. It happens.” Hugo Rocha explained.

New Territories were awarded the Prix Finagaz de la Combativité a special award decided by Michel Desjoyeaux for a sporting performance.

  1. Team SFS – 197 pts
  2. Fondation FDJ – Des Pieds et des Mains – 184 pts
  3. Trésors de Tahiti – 180 pts
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