The start was something of an anti-climax, after all the waiting, at the monohull end of the line, where there was some urgent motoring to get back behind the line before the start in a few cases! It was obvious from the start that the on-going wind battle was not going to provide enough breeze for competitors to complete the Tour de Belle-Ile. Mid-afternoon, as the leader Spindrift approached the Poulains (famous from the photographs of them in storms by the Plissons and others) at the western end of Belle-Ile, the race committee decided to finish the Tour at this location.
With the light winds it appeared that this would be a small boat race. Almost all the entrants finished the shortened race; only about 40 of the 476 competing decided to abandon. The RC PRO wisely decided to postpone the start until 1330 hrs, even then the breeze was just 2-3 kts of wind. In general, the J/Teams performed very well in the race.
Didier le Moal finished 2nd in IRC 1 sailing the J/111 J-LANCE VIII. At one point, he was even beating with 80ft multihull SODEBO after one and half hours of racing (in fact, Didier twice had to hail "starboard" to SODEBO while sailing through the Chenal de la Teignouse were the tide was running strongly!). After this tricky part of the race, the wind finally filled in so that competitors could finish the shortened course. In IRC 1, behind J-LANCE VII was the J/122 MADE IN LOVE sailed by Jean-Baptiste Trunde that finished 4th overall. Stephane Blanchard sailed well on his J/111 LE JOUET to finish 9th overall and Arnaud Marchais's J/122 JOLLY JOKER managed to get 12th overall.
The IRC 3 Class saw some great performances, including Frederic Guillemot's J/109 MISS J taking 5th overall, followed by Dominique Correze's J/109 BAITA 4 in 10th overall.
In Handicap National A Class, the J/122 SCAPIN finished 2nd. SCAPIN is a cruising J/122 that did the entire upwind race with their secret weapon- a spinnaker code 5! They finished just in front of the J/120 LES QUATRES VENTS.
For the J/80 one-design class, Yannick Tabarly's PROXEO too the win by nearly five minutes over his nine other classmates. Second was Eric Bastard sailing SENJI, third Jean-Marie Liot on STARTIJENN (he's also a famous French photo-journalist), in fourth was Alexandre Bigot sailing CENTRALE-SUPELEC and in fifth was Alexandre Soroko skippering JAM SESSION.
Finally, in the small boat open class, the J/70 SUBWAY finished 2nd in her very large class-- a great showing for the J/70 in such light winds!
The setting of La Trinité-sur-Mer is ideal, with the town and sailing-related shops immediately across the road from the large marina. The race village was set up by the marina, about 500 metres from the local yacht club, the Societe Nautique de la Trinité. The larger monohulls and multihulls were just the other side of the breakwater from the marina, close to the Capitainerie (Harbour Master's office), so everyone was together - something that most events do not manage to achieve.
Amidst a range of sponsors, Land Rover France came on board (before the Extreme Sailing Series announcement of Land Rover as a partner) - and we would like to recommend to Sodebo, by means of this article, that they extend their sponsorship from the participation of the maxi-trimaran in the event to providing food and sponsoring the event itself. Surely the national and regional TV coverage alone would make this worthwhile, quite apart from the range of people to be found in a fleet of 476+ boats!
The Tour de Belle-Ile is growing in popularity from year to year, and it is easy to see why. The event is smaller than the Bol d'Or on Lake Geneva and far smaller than Britain's JP Morgan Round the Island Race, but has a strong and building following. The race was put back by a weekend this year, into early May, to try to aid entries for another event along the coast a weekend earlier, but that had to be cancelled for lack of entries. However, the Tour de Belle-Ile took place comfortably alongside the Grand Prix Guyader further west, in Douarnenez, near Brest, where many amateur and professional teams are doing battle. Some crews continued from the Tour de Belle-Ile to compete in the Grand Prix, while others left their boats in La Trinité ready for the ArMen Race next weekend. Thanks for contribution from Anne Hinton @ SailRaceWin. For more Tour de Belle-Ile sailing information