Oman Sail Diam 24 team on the podium at the half way mark of the Tour de France à la Voile
Wednesday, July 19, 2017 11:35 AM
After an intensive phase of back-to-back regattas over the past few days the Oman Sail squad – led by co-skipper Thierry Douillard – are holding third place in the competitive 29-strong fleet of high-speed trimarans.
Just over the half-way point in the marathon Tour that combines long coastal races and quick-fire inshore stadium sprints, Douillard’s team are in a great position to meet their ambition of improving on the fifth place finish they achieved last year.
“The last couple of days have been pretty tough and the wind conditions have made it very unpredictable,” said Douillard. “We were not perfect but we again made it through to the grand final in Les Sables, and if we can keep on doing that then we can go well.
“Everyone on the team is happy, and we know that we are not at our absolute best yet, but we are very close, very close.”
The Tahitian entry Tresors de Tahiti currently leads the Tour overall with 468 points, just two ahead of Team SFS, the on-form boat of the moment after winning both the coastal and inshore sections of the most recent event in Les Sables. Team Oman Sail holds the third spot with 451 points, just one ahead of Fondation FDJ but 14 clear of the rest of the chasing fleet.
“We are behind Tahiti and SFS but points can be lost just like that, so we will stay focused,” said Douillard, a previous Tour winner. “We have a couple of days now before the next event – it has been very intense but we are on our game and we aim to improve.”
For this year’s Tour Douillard is reunited with talented Omani sailors Ali Al Balushi and Abdulrahman Al Mashari, as well as fellow co-skipper and helm Stevie Morrison. French ace Mathieu Richard was a new arrival to further strengthen the crew. The demands of the almost month-long Tour mean the five-strong squad are rotated to vary the three-man race crew.
“We are only just past the half-way point in the Tour but we are where we want to be,” said sail trimmer Al Balushi. “We have had some good races and perhaps a few that were not as good as we would have wanted, but we are in third place and we will work hard to hold on to that and perhaps do even better.”
After the opening two Tour acts in Dunkirk and Fecamp, the Oman Sail entry was in sixth place overall. The team climbed the leaderboard to third after strong and consistent performances in Jullouville, Arzon and Les Sables D’Olonne – the consecutive recent events with no rest days in between.
Now, after a short break, the action moves to the Mediterranean where racing will resume at Roses in Spain on Friday (July 21), quickly followed by the final events in Port Camargue, Marseille and Nice.