Team Delft Challenge ended the Tour de France à la Voile in fifth place in the student rankings on 24 July 2008. The young Dutch crew placed 23rd out of 27 in the overall rankings. The fleet has been sailing flat out along the Atlantic French Coast and the Mediterranean for almost a month. A total of 32 inshore and offshore races were held in extremely varying sailing conditions. The final offshore (Marseille to Hyères), for example, began in a thirty-knot mistral and ended with the entire fleet bobbing along in becalmed conditions. The French Courrier Dunkerque crew proved to be the strongest and finished first in the overall rankings.
‘Our strategy was mainly defensive on the final day,’ said helmsman Michiel van der Meulen, recalling the final inshores. ‘We knew we couldn’t improve our ranking, but we could have easily slipped down a place or two, so we didn’t want to take any chances.’ The Delft students began cautiously in 23rd place, ultimately finishing as 18th and 19th. That allowed them to retain fifth place in the student rankings, with first place going to CSC/HEC/Ecole Navale.
Van der Meulen said the final offshore to Hyères was ‘bizarre’. ‘We started out in a mistral of about thirty knots, but it died down after a few hours. The offshore ended in a complete calm. Our speed dropped from twenty knots to nothing. The wind fell from thirty to nil knots and we spied a whale at only ten metres distance.’ Only five boats finished within the time limit. They did not include Team Delft Challenge. ‘It was quite a battle. Fortunately, our competitors had the same results as us,’ said the helmsman.
Two more years for the Mumm
The organisers of the Tour de France à la Voile announced that the Mumm 30 would remain as the Tour’s boat for another two years. Initially this was to have been the final Mumm 30 year, but the organisers changed their minds. ‘We expect that they’ll be announcing the new boat in the autumn,’ said Van der Meulen. The vanUden-TU Delft-VanOord Sailing Team plan to meet shortly to evaluate the 2008 race and draw up their battle plans for 2009.
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