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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez day 3 - photo © Gilles Martin-Raget
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez day 3 - photo © Gilles Martin-Raget

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

Everyone’s dreamed of it: Les Voiles have done it! Breeze, sunshine, sea spray and the whole fleet of Modern and Classic yachts racing around the Bay together.

This third day served up a very generous mixture of passion, sport and nautical aesthetic. A bracing NW’ly Mistral kept the sea state in check, favouring races bound for Les Issambres for the Classics and towards Cavalaire for the Modern boats.

These longer courses translated as quick legs, dazzling tactics and a little and a lot of dexterity and effort to adapt the sails to the conditions and hold on tight to the feisty steeds, sapping the energy from thousands of sailors in the process and then dropping them off at the dock happy, fulfilled and beaming from ear to ear at the sheer delight of competing in close-contact races on the most beautiful yachts in the heavenly setting of the bay of Saint Tropez. A wonderful prelude to tomorrow’s very special Challenge Day for this the 23rd edition of Les Voiles, with two races already ticked off for the Classics and three for the Modern boats.

Muscles galore!

Today, nearly 40 miles of racing was on the programme for the biggest competitors in the modern fleet, whilst the smaller boats had a crack at a course spanning around 28 miles towards Escalet. Scooped up by downwind conditions and lots of reaching, it was ultimately a drag race pure and simple, punctuated by some lovely surfs and even some more risky broaches in gusts bordering on 30 knots. Jean Pierre Dick, at the helm of his JP 54 The Kid came off best from the harsh yet wonderful conditions, snatching the win in IRC B. The Nacira 47 Pretexte pulled off another consistent performance at the front of the pack and is squeezing ever closer to the much-coveted North Sails Trophy. Meantime, there are numerous pretenders to victory in the BMW Trophy, which crowns the best in show of the IRC Cs. Nanoq, helmed by Prince Frederik of Denmark, with Tom Slingsby calling tactics, posted her second race win after her second place on Monday. It was also impossible to miss the amazing balancing act by the Tofinous in IRC F, which are so impressive as they surf under spinnaker. In the end it was the Tofinou 9.5 Jolt that scored the day’s bullet.

Classics: Salty and soggy!

It was the same salty and soggy atmosphere for the Classics racing towards Les Issambres. Slipping along nicely, the bay not yet churned up by the breeze and significant stream of traffic at that point, the fleet then launched into a spectacular ballet of tack changes amidst the multiple marks dotted along the coast.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez day 3 © Gilles Martin-Raget

Often fully heeled over, their beautiful hulls, some dating back over a hundred years, put on an extraordinary demonstration of seakeeping that really reflected the exquisite engineering of their designers from the past century. The Grand Tradition gaff and Marconi schooners excelled in the day’s blustery conditions, whilst Recluta, a newcomer to Les Voiles, also relished the breeze. The German Frers ketch was first across the finish line off Portalet in elapsed time and, just 30 seconds later, the 12 m Seven Seas of Porto followed suit, ahead of the ketch Stormvogel.

And tomorrow… Challenge day: Les Voiles celebrates 40 years of the Nioulargue spirit

For the past 40 years, tradition has dictated that Thursday at Les Voiles is given over to the celebration of the creative spirit of the original race to the Nioulargue mark involving Ikra and Pride. In this way, any measurement logic is cast aside for the day and Race Management opens up a line at Le Portalet, where boats of any size with any rig announce their intention to compete against a particular sparring partner(s) over the VHF and then festivities commence… Elsewhere in the bay, for those keen to pay homage to a spirit of racing as it was a century ago, with two captains challenging one another for the love of the sport and as a way to compare the performances of a yacht and her crew against one’s own, the Club 55 Cup will witness competitors duelling for glory. For this 2021 edition, the Club 55 Cup will see the JP54 The Kid, Jean Pierre Dick’s 2010 Modern boat, which includes Bill Jayson in her crew, challenge the Marconi ketch Stormvogel designed by Van de Stadt, Giles, Illingworth (1962).

The Centenary Trophy celebrates her tenth anniversary!

Organised in collaboration with the Gstaad Yacht Club within the context of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez since 2011, the Centenary Trophy is open to boats in excess of a hundred years old. The original format of this race, one of the highlights of Challenge Day, involves a series of staggered starts for the participating boats according to their potential for speed in a pursuit race format, with the first boat across the finish line declared the winner.

“This 10th edition heralds renewed confidence in the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, which is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Nioulargue. We’re really keen for the two events to represent a return to life, offering participants an opportunity to truly live out their passion and champion a positive message for the future”, explains Manrico Lachia, Commodore of the Yacht Club de Gstaad, for whom the Centenary Trophy is a very important part of the Swiss club’s history.

And on land…

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez day 3 ©Alexander Panzeri

From 18:30 hours local time, the multi-coloured and marvellously festive procession of the crews parade around the streets of Saint Tropez and the top secret theme this year is… burlesque!

Quotes from the boats:

German Frers Jr, Recluta (Frers):
“I’m racing on a replica 1901 yacht. I love sailing Classics. I decided to make a replica of a boat whose restoration was started in 1940 by my father. It involved a serious work-up for three years in San Fernando, Argentina, with a lot of help from Tito Cisca. I love her form and the feeling she gives you, especially in Saint Tropez. I’ve been coming here since the Nioulargue and the Maxis. I love the atmosphere. I sail with members of my family, sons and grandsons, and some Argentinean friends, all of them good sailors. It’s really special to sail on this boat.”

Marisa Selfa, CEO North Sails Apparel:
“Saint Tropez is our true home! This is where our brand’s soul resides. This incredible environment and this extraordinary competition are fundamental to the sail sector and for us in the lifestyle sector. We bring the spirit of sailing into our collections. The big challenge for us is to combine tradition and high technology, with durability also being very important to us. The North Sails apparel is a classic brand with a classic heritage, but we make it relevant for today’s world and the technology is synonymous with performance for the crews. The durability aspect is all about innovation and fully recycled new materials. Here in Saint Tropez we have partnered with Scooters Electriques, who are personalising their models with our sails as a way to inject durability into the town.”

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez day 3 ©Alexander Panzeri

Manrico Lacha, Commodore of the Yacht Club de Gstaad:
“The Centenary Trophy is one of the Yacht Club de Gstaad’s main events if not the biggest. We also support athletes in the Olympic Games. This tenth anniversary of the Centenary Trophy is a marker for us as our Yacht Club is very young at just 23 years of age. This Trophy is very renowned. Patrizio Bertelli (Scud) comes to Saint Tropez specially for it, as does Pierre Casiraghi (Tuiga). That’s not bad for a little mountain-based club. We have 450 members around the world, 35 twin towns including Saint Tropez, Monaco, Cape Town, San Francisco and Sao Paulo… We’re connected to the whole world and, step by step, we’re creating our network. As we have no stretches of water, we exist thanks to these partnerships and these collaborations and we’re very grateful to the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez with which we have a great relationship. Gstaad and Saint Tropez are destinations much prized by one and all and this association is no longer a surprise. All the skippers in the Trophy are very excited. We even have one sailor who’s come all the way from Patagonia!”

Today’s partner: North Sails

Equipment manufacturer for the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez since 2018, North Sails has been the official clothing supplier for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez since 2019 in what is a 5-year partnership. A specific lifestyle range has been created by the designers of the Italian brand as a way to strike a chord with the French public thanks to a positioning aimed at a broad spectrum of fans of ultra-chic yet comfortable sportswear, as well as a youthful target. This exclusive collection, where blue, white and red are the central theme, is notably available at BHV homme in Paris, as well as several Galerie Lafayette stores. The collection for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is yours in a selection of off-the-peg boutiques.

2021 Programme

Week 1: Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Modern and Classic

  • Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September: registration for all classic yachts and modern yachts up to 18.28m
  • Monday 27 September: regattas for modern yachts
  • Tuesday 28, Wednesday 29 September, Friday 1, Saturday 2 October: regattas for modern and classic yachts
  • Thursday 30 September: Challenge Day-10th anniversary of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Cup
  • Saturday 2 October: Prize Giving (Week 1)

Week 2: Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Maxi Yachts

  • Sunday 3 and Monday 4 October: registration for all modern yachts above 18.29m, Wally, IRCA, Maxi yachts
  • Tuesday 5, Wednesday 6, Thursday 7, Friday 8, Saturday 9: races
  • Saturday 9 October: Prize Giving (Week 2)


by Maguelonne Turcat

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