Tour de France for sailors
Published on December 19th, 2022
While bicycle racing has the Tour de France which highlights its scenic countryside, the nation also has a history of something similar with sailing.
Since its first edition in the summer of 1978, the Tour Voile has been a magnificent racing pilgrimage around and along the phenomenal and varied French coastline. The true growth of offshore sailing in France can in part be put down to this unique itinerant event which has introduced and nurtured literally thousands of people to the sport of offshore racing.
However, the racing-format of the past few years tried stadium-style racing with the Diam 24 OD trimarans, but that chapter has been closed and the event owners – Amaury Sports Organisation (A.S.O.) – along with the French Sailing Federation (FFV), have rejuvenated the format by incorporating a two-week long competition period in July for the next three years.
In 2023, the Tour Voile returns to its offshore roots with the Figaro Beneteau 3 and an iconic multidisciplinary course around France.
The Figaro Beneteau 3, conceived for shorthanded offshore racing and in particular the legendary singlehanded Solitaire du Figaro race, the 32 foot, powerful and modern, foil-assisted one design class will be used for the next three editions of the Tour Voile.
The new format will have an emphasis on young people, with at least half of the four person crew being under 26 years of age when the event starts each year. There also shall be at least one women among the crew.
Teams also have the ability to change crew members as often as they choose throughout the event, enabling experienced sailors to transmit and share their skills with newcomers and developing sailors.
The Tour Voile racing format will include inshore racing, coastal racing, and overnight offshore racing. Teams should expect to line-up on the start line on at least 20 occasions as they tackle the competition and progress from port to port. Starting in St Quay Portrieux on the North Brittany coast on July 1, the regatta will finish further south on the Atlantic seaboard a fortnight later.
The goal with this rejuvenated format is to bring a new generation of French and international sailors to discover offshore and coastal racing and enjoy the camaraderie and community associated with this 2 week itinerant event.
This is not another first time event requiring new boats and an untried, untested format. This event aims to be an intelligent and cost-effective regatta making the most of an existing fleet and regatta circuit, sharing event organizers and mutualizing logistics and technical support.
The Notice of Race will be available sometime in January 2023. For additional information, click here.