Developments for the Tour de France a la Voile

Change of direction as leading French event goes inshore and multihull

Sunday July 27th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

After the Ecume de Mer (1978), the First 30 (1979 to 1981), the Rush Royale (1982 and 1983), the Sélection 37 (1984 to 1991), the JOD 35 (1992 to 1998), the Farr 30 (1999 to 2010) and the M34 (2011 to 2014), from next summer, 2015, the Diam 24 will be the new boat to be used in the Tour de France à la Voile.

Like the previous boats, the Diam 24 is one-design boat, but the true revolution that organisers ASO chose to establish lies in the fact that the Diam 24 is a 7.25m trimaran. The boat was designed by VPLP and is built in Port La Forêt by Vianney Ancelin. Since its launch at the Paris Boat Show in December last year it has already seduced many renowned French sailors.

A circuit has also been created including various events like the Grand Prix Guyader, the Grand Prix de l’Ecole Navale, and the Raid Emeraude in Saint-Lunaire. Michel Desjoyeaux, François Gabart, Vincent Riou and Sidney Gavignet are just some of the the first people who have shown their interest in this multihull.

A controlled budget for easier access to the event

The Tour de France à la Voile needed a new breath of life. For a few months, ASO has led a large survey with stakeholders from the sailing industry (skippers, crew members, project managers, institutions, partners…). They had three priorities : firstly, to offer a boat that would make the participation to the event much cheaper. Secondly, to choose a one-design boat which also has a circuit, which means a boat that has a life outside of the Tour de France à la Voile.

The aim was to start from a blank page in order to have a maximum of opportunities, without closing any doors. The budget for taking part in the event quickly appeared to be the key point, as well as the desire of many competitors to move to multihull racing, for more speed and more spectacular show on the water.

The Diam 24 costs about 55 000 euros ready to sail, which is one third of the cost of the M34, and it entirely fullfils the two objectives: It offers a perfect budget positioning, with the opportunity to attract a large range of teams, from the corinthian to the elite crew. For the top teams, it will be a complementery platform to their main projects, on an event that they enjoy, and that offers their partners great possibilities in multiple places, both on the race village and from an hospitality point of view, the Tour de France à la Voile being, through its format, a summer tour along the french coasts », declared Jean-Baptiste Durier rhis morning in Nice.

The Diam 24 is a fun, fast and spectacular boat, and on top of that, it will sail closer to the public. It was one of A.S.O main objectives since they bought the Tour de France à la Voile in 2012. To reinforce the 'show ' aspect of the Tour de France à la Voile. The idea is to set an itinerary around France, with some iconic places of the French coast, like the Château du Taureau in Roscoff, or the Porquerolles islands off Hyères.

Two types of races will be alternated in each stopover. Some coastal races, on the first day, that can be adapt depending on the weather conditions and that will showcase the wonders of the French coastline, and some inshore races, on the second day sailing in stadium mode. The aim is to bring the show closer from the shore and to the spectators and create an entertainment program on land that the public can understand what’s going on on the water, with a very well thought out visual and audio background.

The Diam 24 is sailed by three or four and can be lifted out of the water and dismantled in just an hour. From a logistics point of view, it is a perfect format for the Tour.

The teams on the Tour de France à la Voile have welcomed the Diam 24 announcement with enthusiasm. They know this is the opportunity to revive the competitive aspect of the event, following on from the large reorganisation operated on land for the last two years (increasing the size of hte Race Village, including a fleet of publicity cars and of an entertainment hub on the beaches.

Some key sailing figures who haven’t taken part for many years are considering coming back to the race, like Michel Desjoyeaux, François Gabart, and Vincent Riou, who won everything this year on the Diam 24 circuit.

"The future of sailing, in general, is the multihull. I am absolutely sure of that ," explained Gabart. And for Michel Desjoyeaux "the objective is to have more boats and more sailors on the Tour de France à la Voile. The Diam 24 complies with the necessary flexibility on a mobile event along the French coasts, taking into account the timing priorities for the entertainment on land!"

Amateur sailors are also very interested by the new series that should keep developing this year.


Paul Adam, President of the Ligue Haute Normandie who initiated the Normandy-Acerel M34 campaign, who just won the Corinthian ranking in this year's race, is supporting the new development: "The Tour de France à la Voile needed to be rejunevated. We are heading towards a more attractive type of sailing, that is also a show for the spectators. The lower financial conditions will encourage the smaller teams to come back to the event."

The new course will be announced during Paris Boat Show in December, as well as the first competitor announcements for the next race. The objective is to offer a diverse fleet, gathering various types of sailors, Olympians, offshore sailors, professionnal crews and amateurs.

Michel Desjoyeaux: "The Tour is a model in French crewed sailing. Many young sailors have grown into top level racer and turned pro after sailing on the Tour. Multihull sailing is clearly part of French sailing and technological culture, and now it is finally going international. It’s great to combine the two to help revive this major event. The objective is to have more boats and more sailors. The Diam 24 complies with the necessary flexibility of having a mobile event along the French coasts."

Vincent Riou, skipper of the IMOCA 60 PRB: "The Diam 24 is a light and fun sport boat. It’s full-on and it’s going to provide a great show. I was looking for another boat in addition to my IMOCA 60. It’s an easy campaign to take on. The Diam 24 class has just started and it is already attracting top people. And the Tour de France à la Voile is also an institution. I think the Diam 24 will rejunevate the event. It will be a great campaign to do the Tour on a multihull. I just love the idea..."

Daniel Souben, skipper of Courrier Dunkerque 3: "We are at a time when the Tour has some difficulties despite the level of the competitors and the excellent media coverage. We don’t have enough teams, so we can’t refuse the opportunity to rejunevate. The solution they found should attract many teams to the event and facilitate the mix of professionnals and corinthians. It will be a different format as we are going to lose the offshore legs, but it will bring some new competitors including a younger generation and some people from the multihull world. The Diam 24 in the Tour is a good thing, from a communication point of view, but also from the budget point of view. It’s definitely worth trying."

Eric Hainneville, President of the Diam 24 class: "The introduction of the Diam 24 as the new boat for the Tour de France à la Voile is a bit stressful for me, as President of the Class. The bar is set high right from the start. We just want to be good enough so that no one is disappointed. As a sailor, it’s a fantastic project. I think it’s a recognition of the multihull as a proper racing platform. Sailing a multihull requires real sailing abilities. The America’s Cup helped a lot in this recognition. With Vianney Ancelin, we wanted a sensational boat, for a reasonnable price, simple and easily accessible. It was a real challenge. This boat will attract other types of sailors, both on the pro and on the corinthian side. It will give the Tour de France à la Voile a new dimension. I think it’s fantastic. There is a real mutual trust amongst us, the sailors, the class, and the race organisers ."

Nicolas Honor, Project Manager of Oman Sail: "The fact that A.S.O is changing the boat is a good thing. Unfortunately today, the entries are decreasing every year on the Tour de France à la Voile. ASO had the courage to do something about it. Regarding Oman Sail, our project is more offshore sailing orientated, but we also have our MOD70 so the Diam 24 could be an interesting platform for us. We can readjust our Omani sailors training program. We are more than 50% sure to do the Tour de France à la Voile again next year, but there are still some question marks because the Oman Sail program for next year hasn’t been finalised yet for the various circuits we are involved in. In brief, if we have the opportunity to do the Tour on a Diam 24, we will take it."

Sidney Gavignet, skipper of Team Oman Sail: "Moving to multihull simply reflects the mood of our time. This change was necessary. To find a more affordable platform is logical considering the economic situation. I think the competition will be homogeneous. The big teams will prepare like big teams do and then we will have some sailors who don’t come from offshore sailing, but inshore multihulls. I trust ASO to make the right choices."

François Gabart, skipper of MACIF: "I did my first Tour in 2002 or 2003 and at the time I was also campainging a Tornado. On the Tour I discovered offshore sailing, night time racing, sailing with the tides and current… But I thought monohulls were a bit slow. At the time I remember I told myself that it would be great to do it on small multihulls. Therefore I think the evolution of the Tour de France à la Voile is very positive. And the future of sailing in general is multihulls. I bought a Diam 24 before even knowing it would be the new Tour boat. It’s an excellent boat, very accessible, both from a budget point of view and from a technical aspect. The Tour will be more popular, for the public and for the competitors. The mix has always been the Tour’s strength."




Latest Comments

Add a comment - Members log in

Latest news!

Back to top
    Back to top