Southern French boat Capsport, skippered Xavier LECOEUR and Bernard MALLARET, easily won the Tour de France à la Voile 2003. The winning boat scored 47.25 points more than the second overall, Jimmy Pahun's Région Ile de France.
Julien FARNARIER'S Ville d'Antibes NEC end up at the third place overall. The defending champions onboard Bouygues Telecom will console themselves with the satisfaction to have won the last point-scoring race today in Antibes ahead of Italy's Joe Fly Sailing Team whose learning curve has been really steeper in the last few days. As expected, the Aussies of Southern Sun Team Australie finished in 10th. Hervé Gautier's CSC Essec boat won the amateur division while Bruno BARBARIN'S INSA won the student division.
Four boats have been dominating this 26th Tour de France à la Voile. Winning boat Capsport had started this month long- regatta very well as she snatched victory not only in the non-point scoring prologue but also in the first two inshore races. Xavier LECOEUR'S team managed to stay at the top of the leader board for six days before to drop down to fourth place overall. Three other boats have been in fighting for final victory from the very beginning: Jimmy Pahun's Région Ile de France, Julien FARNARIER'S Ville d'Antibes NEC and Pierre Loïc BERTHET'S Bouygues Telecom. The latter were standing in first place overall with a good 42,5 points lead at the end of the Atlantic part. But Nantes's team did not seem to be able to keep their momentum in the Med. At the contrary Capsport bounced back on their feet in the Med. It's in Sète that the southern boat, then skippered by three times winner Bernard Mallaret, managed to come back into first place overall. "They won the Tour de France à la Voile in Sète", said Jimmy PAHUN a couple of days ago as he did not believe then that he could still win this event. However, Brittany's skipper, who was participating in the Tour de France à la Voile for the 19th time, is very happy with his second place knowing that, unlike the previous years, he had a team made of young and un-experienced sailors.
Where Bouygues Telecom is the team that won most races, Capsport have been more consistent. Lack of consistency has also penalised Région Ile de France and Ville d'Antibes NEC.
Though they were considered as one of the favourites, the Italians have also failed in being consistent and therefore end up in 7th place overall. Federico Michetti and his most talented team among which were Vasco VASCOTTO, Luca SANTELLA, Flavio FAVINI and America's Morgan LARSON have learnt a lot about what it takes to win the Tour de France à la Voile, an endurance event. Like the Aussies, the Italians expected stronger breeze and had designed their sails for heavier wind. Melbourne's Kirwan ROBB and Mike SMITH onboard Southern Sun Team Australie have reached their goal, which was to finish in the top ten. However, the Aussies were hoping to manage to climb one or more two steps on the leader board. They want to come back next year and take their revenge.
Xavier LECOEUR, skipper of winning boat Capsport : "Our force was to often change crew to permanently have fresh blood onboard our boat. We also made sure to have the right people at the right place. I myself sailed in the Channel and in the Atlantic as, coming from Normandy, I know those areas better. While Bernard Mallaret and François Brénac sailed in the Med, where they're from. Dimitri Deruelle and Damien Iehl, who had been sailing for a while in the Atlantic came back for the last three days. Without to mention the precious help of Kito de Pavant (winner of the Solitaire du Figaro in 2002) who was our navigator during the first half of the regatta" .
Jimmy PAHUN, skipper of Région Ile de France: "We had a great Tour de France à la Voile. It had been a long time since I hadn't experienced such a nice regatta sportively and humanly. I'm very happy with my young crew. We lacked some experience. Capsport had a most experienced made of many talented sailors. First place is not always necessary. The most important is to finish being proud of your crew and with the impression that you did a good job. It's a victory"
Julien FARNARIER, skipper of Ville d'Antibes NEC: "Our objective was to finish in the top three. So we're happy. We nearly came in second place. But we would have needed another couple of races but it has to end one day. That's part of the game".
Federico Michetti, skipper of Joe Fly Sailing Team: «"I'm a little bit sad because the Tour de France à la Voile is finished. I'm not disappointed. I'm happy. A little bit tired. Because we push a lot to try to come back a little bit every day. The end has been stressful. It's been a great experience. We learnt a lot. We now know what is good to do and what is not good to do. We understand how it works and it's important for next year. It's been a great ."
Kirwan Robb, co- skipper of Southern Sun Team Australie: "I'm slightly disappointed as I finished in 10th last year with Force EDC and I finish in 10th again. But it was our goal in the top ten and we did it so it's good especially considering that most of the teams had never sailed offshore. It's been a light air event and we would have preferred some heavier breeze. But we've learnt a lot. We did not have enough practice at fleet racing and starts because we were the only Mumm 30 in Victoria so before we came here, we had never sailed against a Mumm 30 before".
Overall Top Ten
||(Xavier Lecoeur/Bernard Mallaret)
||Région Ile de France
||Ville d'Antibes NEC
||(Julien Farnarier/Marc Bouvet)
||(Pierre Loïc Berthet)
||(Maxime Paul/ Thierry Bouchard)
||(Pierre-Laurent Garnero/Fabien Henry)
||Joe Fly Sailing Team
||Ville de Genève Carrefour Prévention
||(Julien Di Biase)
||Southern Sun Team Australie
||(Kirwan Robb/ Mike Smith)