During the Paris boat show, the French Sailing Federation and the Figaro Beneteau class have announced that the Tour Voile will be back in 2023, in Figaro 3, with a shorter format than historically, one that will include the Tour de Bretagne. Tip & Shaft tells you more about this latest guise.
A little less than a year after the withdrawal of Normandie Evénéments (see our article), which organized only one edition, in 2021, the Tour Voile will be back next July on a new class, the Figaro Beneteau 3. The announcement was made official during the prize giving ceremony of the France Elite offshore racing championship by the president of the Figaro Beneteau class, Jean-Bernard Le Boucher, and that of the French Sailing Federation, Jean-Luc Denéchau.
“There was a real desire within the Federation to deliver a competition that could train young people in offshore racing, explains Denéchau. “We worked with the Figaro class on a project with two key words: training and financial accessibility .” Hence the choice of the Figaro 3 – the agreement with the class covers three years – and is so far preferred, for example, to the future Sun Fast 30 One Design (ex Class30), which its promoters, including the UNCL, would have seen as the class for the Tour in the medium term.
“We live in a world that has changed economically,” continues the president of the FFV. “So in the end we wanted to use existing boats, I don’t want our clubs to have to make significant investments out of their reach to train their young people in offshore racing.”
The president of the UNCL, now joined with the Yacht Club de France, Géry Trenteseaux are not taking umbrage: “I met Jean-Luc Denéchau and Corinne Migraine (vice-president) at the beginning of September about this and they were clear, so there is no disappointment. And anyway, our one design would not be available in sufficient quantities in 2023.”
After agreeing with the Figaro class, the FFVoile approached Amaury Sport Organisation, owner of the Tour Voile since 2012, which gave up organizing it at the end of 2020, to take on the license. What ASO accepted, granting the Tour Voile brand to the federation for a period of three years on the model of a kind of lease-management, as already previously used with Normandie Evénements.
Three organizers solicited
This new formula Tour will therefore be contested during the first fortnight of July with a crew of four – including two young people under 26 years old and one woman, who will be able to alternate on the different stages – and in two parts. The first will take the route of the Tour de Bretagne à la voile, which will run two separate classifications, before, according to Jean-Luc Denéchau “one big stage between Quiberon and a city located further south.”
Organizer of the Tour de Bretagne, the Brittany sailing league, will be in charge of the first part of the Tour Voile. A private provider will take care of the second part. “We launched a targeted consultation with three organizers,” confirms Jean-Bernard Le Boucher. According to our information, these are Upswing Prod, which organizes the Ocean Fifty Pro Sailing Tour, Ultim Sailing, which ran in May the new race in the Figaro, the Trophée Banque Populaire Grand Ouest, and Aloha Attitude, a Brest company specializing in events and project management (including that of Eric Péron).
When asked, these organizers acknowledged they are looking at it. “We have not yet studied it in all its components”, simply replied Julien Mauriat for Upswing Prod; “We find the subject fascinating”, commented Emmanuel Bachellerie for Ultim Sailing, while Christophe Boutet, founder of Aloha Attitude, added : “The project is interesting, but the roadmap is not easy to keep, because the event arrives quickly and it is partly based on an already existing event, it will not necessarily be easy to find its place, But we are studying the file.”
A dozen crews are hoped
The lucky winner will be known “in the coming weeks”, according to Jean-Bernard Le Boucher, then instructs all the protagonists to attract the maximum number of crews. “For this first, we are counting on a dozen entries, we want in particular to help the leagues to take an interest,” explains Jean-Luc Denéchau who evokes a budget, to participate in the Tour Voile, of “15,000 to 20,000 euros“.
Speaking to Tip & Shaft, Cédric Chateau, sporting director of the Normandy league, very involved for years in the training of young crews, is interested, even if he believes that the budget will probably be higher. “We would like to set up one or two teams, it will depend on the means we manage to find. As the goal will not only be to participate, but to progress, I think it will require a little training upstream, so coaching. I have more the impression that we will be on a budget of the order of 40,000 to 50,000 euros. But the Tour Voile brand is an asset to find private partners.”
Jean-Bernard Le Boucher says “It is a very interesting model economically, which allows to start in Figaro without having enormous means”. And can allow the class, which has included the Tour Voile on the calendar of its Academy, launched in 2022, to attract new sailors, in a context of stagnation in the number of registered for its races. “I think the right way to reinvigorate the class and have more participants in three to four years time on our big solo and doubles events is to go and get young people and get them racing.”
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Photo : Qaptur