Nineteen Yoles (derived from traditional wood fishing skiffs) took part in the 22nd Around Martinique race between Sunday 30 July and Sunday 6 August. A prologue and seven stages were on the programme for this unique event which attracts more than 30,000 specatators. Among the 19 entries, three Yoles wore the mantle of favorite due to their performances during the year. Among them : UFR-Geant, Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price and Rosette-Orange which had run away with the last two editions.
Starting from the departure at Robert, one of the Yoles, UFR-Geant, impressed on home waters with three minutes advance on GFA Caraibes-Digicel. Next came Generale de Menuiserie-Groupe Antilles Protection, followed by Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price and Rosette-Orange. The favorites had already made their rendez-vous.
The first stage led competitors from Robert to Trinite, rounding a buoy off Ste Marie. The difficulty on this leg is the passage off La Caravelle. Luckily, on July 30, the weather was clement for racers ; a light easterly wind and moderate sea.
Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price came out of the bay at Robert in first place and in the lead at Caravelle, followed by UFR-Geant. The latter made a better rounding and came away from the headland at Caravelle in front of Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price and Rosette-Orange. The famous trio stayed in front until the finish, an elbow-to-elbow affair where each Yole took the lead in turn. Ultimately, it was UFR-Geant which edged Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price by 18 seconds and Rosette-Orange by 37 seconds. The fourth Yole, Generale de Menuiserie-Groupe Antilles Protection came some six minutes later and the fifth boat, GFA Caraibes-Digicel, ten minutes later.
The second stage : Trinity to St Pierre was marked by a record, that of the longest duration for a stage in the event’s entire history ; more than six and a half hours for the winning Yole. This was due to meteorological conditions. In fact, a tropical wave was expected that day and a postponement of the stage was expected. This disturbance thankfully avoided Martinique, passing to the north, but completely changed the force and direction of the wind. Thus, it was with a light southerly breeze that the competitors launched from Trinity towards St Pierre, meeting a northwesterly wind.
This time, it was Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price who crossed the line seven minutes in front of UFR-Geant and 34 minutes in front of Rosette-Orange. Mirsa, in fourth, finished 38 minutes later, with Only-Le Marche de l’Immobilier 52 minutes later.
The third stage lead the Yoles from St Pierre to Fort-de-France and was dominated by capsizing, due to the rapid succession of calm water and strong gusts. The first to go over was Rosette-Orange, affecting its chances of finishing on the final podium. In the end, it was Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price who finished first ahead of UFR-Geant and Brasserie Lorraine-Inter Sport. However, due to a protest, Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price and crew found herself hit with with a 15 minute penalty which relegated her to third place behind UFR-Geant and Brasserie Lorraine.
The fourth stage from Fort-de-France to Anses d’Arlet was marked by the large number of broken spars and the habitual photo finish between UFR-Geant and Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price which finished 24 seconds behind the winner.
The fifth stage from Anses d’Arlet and St Anne was won by Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price which beat UFR-Geant by four minutes and Mirsa by 12 minutes. Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price could have increased its lead against UFR-Geant if a protest had been accepted. Rosette-Orange, victim of several capsizes, saw the podium get further and further away.
The sixth stage from St Anne to Robert could have been entitled : Rosette-Orange, the Return. In fact, on the longest stage of the tour, the Yole ran away three minutes ahead of UFR-Geant and 17 minutes ahead of Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price which missed out on a good opportunity to close the lead on first place.
The seventh and final stage, Robert to Le Francois and back was won by Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price which beat Rosette-Orange by six minutes and UFR-Geant by eight minutes. This was not enough to trouble UFR-Geant which won the 2006 Tour over Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price by 9 minutes overall.
1 ‘UFR-Géant‘ 26h 09’ 42 ‘’
2 ‘Joseph Cotterell-Leader-Price‘ à 09’ 21’’
3 ‘Mirsa’ à 1h 54’ 25’’
4 ‘Rosette-Orange’ à 1h 57’ 07’’
5 ‘Brasserie Lorraine – Inter Sport’ à 2h 02’ 40’’