The Tour de France ... On water?!

(CNN)Think of the Tour de France and images of cyclists, mountains, cobbles and Paris spring to mind.

But there is another, altogether more watery incarnation of one of sport's most grueling events.
The Tour de France a la voile is sailing's equivalent to the marathon bike race and, after three weeks, it reaches its conclusion this Sunday -- the same day that those hundreds of elite cyclists will parade up and down Paris' Champs-Elysees.
    Both events are owned and ran by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO,) whose president Jean Etienne Amaury sees many parallels between the two tours.
    Just as cyclists tackle fearsome cols and energy-sapping sprints, so sailors face a variety of challenges on the waters that surround France.
    "We see many synergies between the cycling Tour de France and the sailing Tour de France," Amaury told CNN's Main Sail. "The logistical part of both events is important because we change place every day.
    "France offers very interesting terrain for sailing, the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.
    "We're ambitious to make the sailing Tour de France a great attraction for the general public."
    The race was first staged in 1978 and has been graced by legendary sailors such as iconic Frenchman Loick Peyron.
    But the thrills aren't reserved just for the professionals, with amateurs also able to take to the water.
    Yachtsman Franck Cammas tasted victory in the 2013 event, while he has also enjoyed wins in the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race and the Route du Rhum.
    At the time of writing, Cammas' crew sits top of the leaderboard. The 42-year-old Frenchman quips: "I'm the Chris Froome of the Tour de France a la Voile," referring to the leader of this year's race.
    While Froome sports a yellow jersey, the boat at the front of the field flies a blue spinnaker.
    Cycling has long been adored by the French and Amaury hopes a similarly close relationship can built with sailing.
    "Cycling has a long history, a long tradition in France," explained Amaury. "The Tour de France was created in 1903, so it has more than 100 years of history. That explains the romance that has developed over the years.
    "We expect to do the same in sailing."