Shiftier breeze and a change in the direction and design of the racecourse, in comparison to yesterday, forced many competitors to shift gears for the second day of racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth and yielded a mixed bag of results for the event’s nine classes.
The fleet of 65 boats battled while navigating the rocky coast and its strong currents on courses, between 26 and 32 nautical miles, around the eastern side of the island.
“It was tough today because the wind was very erratic, initially blowing between 15 and 17 knots and then dropping off to around eight and ten knots,” said Hervé Hejoaka who helms Crédit Mutuel, which dropped from second to third place in CSA 4 after today. An event veteran, the team won its class here last year. “From there it became difficult to advance the boat because of the state of the sea and especially the large surf on the east side of the island. We fought like crazy and during the descent toward the Grenadines, we chose to stay close to the coast because it was smoother. This allowed us to climb back up a bit.”
For fellow 2016 class winner Sergio Sagramoso’s Lazy Dog, today had the opposite effect in CSA 2, with the Melges 32 moving up from second to first place after racing. However, fellow competitor Sir Richard Matthews’ Oystercatcher XXX1 took a hit, replacing its second place position yesterday with a fourth in CSA 2.
“We had a harder day and struggled to get off the start line a bit,” said Saskia Clark who calls tactics for Oystercatcher XXX1. Clark is famous in the world of sailing for her accomplishments as an Olympic 470 sailor. “A big lesson for me is sailing with all the different handicaps, because I come from a one design fleet.
So it’s about trying to balance what I want to do racing, but also knowing that a bigger boat is coming and I have to factor that in. Today didn’t go as well as we wanted to but we’ll keep on building on it going forward.”
For the Maxi 1 Class, Proteus may still hold the lead but the deck has been shuffled for the line-up of competitors that follows, due in part to Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente being over the line early at the start. At Les Voiles de St. Barth, there is no option to go back to the line and restart; instead, 10% of your time upon finishing is added to the final score. Bella Mente continued on to sail a fantastic race today, taking first place on corrected time, but due to the mishap they were pushed down to sixth place in the race and fourth place overall. SFS and Prospector climbed up to second and third place, respectively.
“We sailed a good race,” said Bella Mente Tactician Terry Hutchinson. “It was our own mistake, nobody forced it, but we are quite happy with how the race played out. We did what we wanted to do. We just swung and missed at the start.”
In addition to Proteus, six competitors are still holding on to their class leads after today, including Kenneth Howery’s Fortunata in CSA 1. Unlike many of the other teams, Fortunata Tactician Tommaso Chieffi felt that today was comprised of smooth sailing and agreeable conditions.
“For us, it was fairly straightforward with no big changes in wind direction and wind strength,” said Chieffi, a world-class Italian sailor known for his Olympic and America’s Cup campaigns. Acquired just last year, Fortunata is the fifth of only 25 Solaris 50 yachts in the world, and Les Voiles de St. Barth marks the team’s second event competing onboard her. “We struggled a bit when we raced in the Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten earlier this year, and we had some things we had to work on, but now we feel really competitive and are enjoying the week.”
The official “Day Off” is scheduled for tomorrow, followed by the final two days of racing, Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15.
by Kirsten Ferguson