The beginning of the M34 season augured of the fights to come. Newcomers Franck Cammas and Thomas Coville skillfully faced their competitors. Veteran Daniel Souben was the only one to match Cammas, recent winner of the Volvo Ocean Race, and Thomas Coville, skipper of the Sodebo maxi-trimaran. 35 days before the Tour de France à la Voile, it’s only logical for the three sailors to lead the Spring Championship, which will finish in a few days with the Normandy Sailing Week. Once Le Havre’s race is over, Cammas, Coville and Souben will head to the Tour de France à la Voile, a major event in the M34 circuit. There will be 13 one-design boats to race along the French coast, where high-level and amateur teams will sail altogether. But who will take the title of Fabien Henry and TPM Coych, who won in July 2012 for the third time? Groupama 34, Courrier Dunkerque 3 or Sodebo are the obvious favourites, but they will still face serious competition with Nicolas Troussel (Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Elite) and Omansail skippered by Cédric Pouligny.
Impressive favourites and tough competitors
The three favourites were meeting in Paris today, speaking about how impatient they were to begin the month-long race. Franck Cammas, who has been very well since he joined the class, foresees “a very tight race because of a highly competitive fleet.” His objective is clearly to win. Also seeking victory, Thomas Coville has gathered a strong team around him. “The team Sodebo has a total of 26 victories on the Tour de France à la Voile! With the quality of the crew gathered here, our goal clearly is to compete with the leaders.” Meanwhile, Daniel Souben is keeping a similar crew to last year. That method worked well at the beginning of the season and, as in 2008 and 2009, he is keen to take the Tour’s trophy again. “We are delighted to race against competitors such as Cammas or Coville. They are spoiling us with a true sport challenge. It’s a great opportunity for us to have international names on the Tour. That being say, we are obviously aiming to win!”
These three teams capture much of the attention but their competitors also showed their ambitions at the beginning of the season. Cédric Pouligny and his Omani crew are getting better and better on the Tour de France à la Voile. Nicolas Troussel finished third last year and has once more gathered some very talented sailors around him, including offshore and strategy experts Dimitri Deruelle, Christian Ponthieu and Eric Peron; Troussel calls them the “executives.”
Corentin Douguet is once again mixing experience and learning onboard Nantes Saint Nazaire E. Leclerc. The spirit of the project is untouched and Douguet, seventh in 2012, hopes to get the best out of his 15 crew. Elodie Jane Mettraux is also coming back with Ville de Genève Carrefour Addictions. The Swiss won the amateur ranking last year and they are aiming for the overall ranking this time.
Last year’s winner TPM Coych has changed entirely, with the project now managed by the youngsters of the club. French Sailing Team Laser athlete Jean-Baptiste Bernaz will lead with two other helmsmen, Mathieu Frei (French Sailing Team, 49er) and Cédric Boeri (COYCH). Alexis Littoz and Pierre Brasseur will bring navigation experience to the offshore legs.