Tour de France à la Voile visits Netherlands
BRESKENS – On June 28, the 2013 Tour de France à la Voile sets sail for a month of racing down France’s Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts that includes a stop in the Netherlands. Like the bike version, the sailing tour is organized by the Amaury Sports Organization which has worked hard to beef up shore activities. Says ASO chief Yann Le Moënner: “The crisis affects everyone. I won’t lie. We had hoped for more boats.” The 2013 event features 13 one-designs.
The event starts with 3 days of in-shore racing at Dunkerque on June 28. It then swings north to Breskens in the Netherlands for a 2nd visit (the first was in 1988). On July 2, the boats head down France’s Atlantic coast. In all, they will visit 11 ports and are trucked midway through the race from France’s Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Breskens stop (photo of marina) shows Dutch ambition to position the Netherlands’ southwestern corner _ where dozens of marinas dot the estuaries of the Rhine, Scheldt and Meuse rivers _ as a premier yachting region in northern Europe.
Famous skippers have taken part in the Tour de France à la Voile race, including 4-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts. The race, for both professionals and amateurs, was first held in 1978. Since 2011, it has been run in one-design Archambault M34s, trailereable, 10.34-m racers with a carbon rig and lightweight hull.
Headlining the 2013 race is Franck Cammas whose Groupama team won the last Volvo Ocean Race. Cammas has been in 3 training races. “We were late compared to some of our competitors,” he says today. “But our shared training sessions helped us to improve. Our team is mixing Groupama sailing team veterans, with whom we won the Volvo Ocean Race, and young sailors. (The Tour de France à la Voile’s) inshore and offshore legs, reminds us of the Volvo.”