It's has been the most amazing finish in the Tour de France à la Voile 2002. It not only came down to the last race but actually to the last run for Nantes-St-Nazaire to win the regatta by the tiny margin of 1,5 points.
The overall winner changed several times during the final race, sailed today in very light and fluky air off Nice. At one stage Jimmy Pahun's Région Ile de France was third. Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention snatched a spectacular victory in this last race with a huge lead.
The Swiss lake-type conditions suit Etienne David and his crew who had nothing to lose and claimed their sixth victory in the regatta.Suspense was amazing today. At the top mark, Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention was leading, Nantes-St-Nazaire was in 4th and Région Ile de France in 11th. So Nantes-St-Nazaire was winning. At the leeward mark, Pierre-Loïc Berthet's team, in 9th, was still the virtual winner but Jimmy Pahun's crew were in 17th which meant they would be third overall.
When the fleet rounded the windward mark for the second time, Région Ile de France had climbed back to 6th position while Nantes-St-Nazaire was in 4th,therefore Jimmy Pahun was the leader.Everyone was holding their breath during the last run. Nantes-St-Nazaire remained in 4th and it was only when Région Ile de France crossed the finishline, in 8th, that the winner's name was finally revealed.
Last time, the Tour de France à la Voile saw such a close finish was in 1995 when Bernard Mallaret beat Chris Dickson by only a 0,25 point margin.The winning team were all joyful today after this most exciting final race.
"We were three in the competition until the last minute. Everything went fine for us. We're really satisfied as this victory is the award of four years hard work," commented Pierre-Loïc Berthet on the pontoon after having had a sip of Champagne and before being thrown to the water like everyone else.
He then resumed the conversation: "We've had all sort of conditions. Gale force winds, lack of wind, races cancelled and some fog in the Med. We've had it all, from Dunkerque to Nice and for us it¹s just happiness," added the skipper of Nantes-St-Nazaire before dedicating this victory to their deceased crew member who accidentally fell from his hotel room last year at the end of the regatta. "We have a very special thought today for Manu who tragically left us last year."
Though disappointed to have been so close to winning, Jimmy Pahun was sportsmanlike today on the docks. "That's life and that's sport. The crew of Nantes-St-Nazaire were the best. Besides, I think that they had an extra crewmember with them, Manu and that carried them on. They are brilliant winners. They really wanted to win this event and they did it," said the skipper of Région Ile de France before summarising his regatta. "It started badly for us with many points lost in Dunkerque. Then, we were been excellent in the long offshore races. It will remain our best memories. We had a black day in Bayonne that probably cost us the final victory and we did very well in the Med. I'm proud of my crew. They did a great job and were really motivated."
The Swiss of Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention were most happy, after a few bad days, they end this Tour de France à la Voile on a good note. "We'rereally pleased to finish like this. We sailed very well today. It's true that after the start today, as we were leading and saw Nantes-St-Nazaire and Région Ile de France far behind, we thought that we still had a chance. But the top three results I think are pretty logical. I say well done to both of them. I admire both team for what they¹ve achieved," commented Etienne David.
Force EDC wins the student division
The student team comprised of Aussies, Brits and a Dutch girl onboard Force EDC have achieved their goal. They won the student division with an amazinglead and finished in tenth (see page two for Sarah Procter's interview with skipper Simon Sutherland and trimmer Kieran Robb who will be leading an Aussie campaign in 2003.
Panther Team GBR finishes 4th overall
Rob Greenhalgh skipper of the boat comments on his result. "4th overall was our new aim after a poor start to the event. We had a good last race and we sailed really well. It was really interesting to watch how the final race with Jimmy and Pierre-Loic panned out. We were right in the middle of them for the whole race and I think that Panther was a deciding factor in who won the race. I am looking forward to coming back next year, I'll sail again with a similar team to this year. It has been a great regatta with an excellent atmosphere good sailing and it is definitely worth doing again."
Royal Thames finishes third amateur
"Overall it has been the best event that I have ever done, " commented skipper Owen Modral. "It is a real test of your sailing, organisation, stamina and commitment. We have all loved it and definitely want to do it again. In terms of racing we did as well as could of been hoped. We were dragged down at the beginning by a couple of bad results and lack of experience but there is no doubt that our sailinghas improved."
||NANTES SAINT NAZAIRE
||Pierre Loic BERTHET - Marc GUESSARD
||REGION ILE DE France
||VILLE DE GENEVE-CARREFOUR PREVENTION
||PANTHER : TEAM GBR
||Marc BOUVET - Marc AUDINEAU
||DIEPPE SEINE MARITIME
||COTES D'ARMOR TOUTES VOILES DEHORS
||DINARD LA PACHANGA
||CAP UNIVERSITE SAINT QUENTIN EN YVELINES
||Jean Marie GOUT - Hervé LEDUC
||Marc EMIG - Fred Laurent
||CODIAM ENSP DH
||JC NICOLEAU - Nicolas LODAY
||BREST GRANDES ECOLES-ENSIETA-ENST BRETAGNE
||ESTUDINES.FR-PORT DE COMMERCE LA ROCHELLE
||Yann DUBE-Rodolph JACQ
||PSA PEUGEOT CITROEN
||Luc ANGELS - Pierre Yves LAMBERT
||PAPREC RECYCLAGE-NORMALE SUP CACHAN-ENSAE
||Sebastien PETITHUGUENIN-Xavier ROHART
||PONT TELECOM ESTACA DEFI SEP
||Tanguy FOURNIER LERAY-Stephane VENEL
||ILE DE LA REUNION RFO
||T SERVICE INTERIM REGION DE BRUXELLES
||SCIENCES-PO MECENAT CHIRURGIE CARDIAQUE CIC
||Jean Rene GUILLOUX
||JACQUES VABRE-ESC LE HAVRE
||CENTRALE PARIS MEDECIN DU MONDE
||NANTES SAINT NAZAIRE AU FEMININ
||DEFI JEAN BART
||VILLE DE BANDOL-CASINO DE BANDOL
||Marc LE PESQUEUX
||Sophie GILIBERT - Richard Quentin