Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille’s 11th edition shines brightly
While the planet is facing a health crisis of unprecedented magnitude, there is a gleam of good news that to date the island of Saint-Barthélemy nestled in the Caribbean Sea has resisted the pandemic. This idyllic island gem is not currently impacted and has been safely hosting visitors from all over the world. Barring any changes, the island’s major events will continue in 2021, including the unmissable Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille scheduled for April 11 – 17.
With four months to go, more than 20 teams have already confirmed their participation in the 11th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille with a great mix of the regatta’s faithful competitors, “newbies,” and “boomerangers,” who are returning after several years of absence. All are eager to take advantage of a chance to return to racing after 2020’s forced absence, and what better place to return to battle on the water than in St. Barth?
New for the 11th edition is the formation of a Super Maxi Racing Class, which has already attracted some of the sport’s top boats.
Gustavia – Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille – photo © Comité du Tourisme de St. Barthélemy
COVID Precautions are Paramount
Safety is top priority to the Collectivité of St. Barthélemy, which has been implementing strict protocols since the coronavirus first took hold this spring. St. Barth was among the first to acquire the most sophisticated testing machines in the Caribbean. Any travelers arriving to St. Barth from outside of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin and Sint-Maarten must present a negative PCR test conducted 72 hours before their flight.
Additionally, all travelers who stay on island for more than seven days, must undergo a second test. Temperature checks are taken as passengers arrive to St. Barth, and masks are required in all indoor places. To date, the government has not imposed a curfew, and all of St. Barth’s wonderful bars and restaurants, shops and tourist attractions are open for guests to fully enjoy.
Promising Early Entries for 11th Edition
Currently, Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille remains scheduled for April 11 – 17 and, already, sailors from all over the world are counting the months until the first starting gun explodes, and racing returns to the turquoise waters around St. Barth.
Already triple winners of the event in 2011, 2013 and 2015, American Jim Swartz and his Vesper team will be back in St. Barth next spring aboard their new Maxi 72. Former America’s Cup and Olympian Gavin Brady, tactician for Swartz, said that due to COVID-19 and safety concerns, Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille will be the only spring event that Vesper will race.
“Given all that is going on in the world, there really needs to be a trust and a partnership between the racing teams and the event,” Brady said. “When Jim and I reviewed potential events for our spring calendar, our main priorities were to find safe venues and race organizers we know we could trust to put on a well-organized, safe event. Les Voiles de St. Barth definitely fits that bill. Plus, it’s an amazing place to sail and island to enjoy. We love racing there.”
Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille – photo © Gilles Martin-Raget
New Super Maxi Racing Class for 2021
Many Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille’s regatta regulars have already thrown their hat into the ring, like Irvine Laidlaw who will be racing aboard his Reichel Pugh 82 Highland Fling XI, and American Hap Fauth, owner of Bella Mente and also CEO of the America’s Cup American Magic team. Bella Mente returns after a three-year absence, promising a good battle between the supercharged racing machines.
Newcomers are also joining the fight to dethrone previous winners, like the Swan 82 Kallima under new owner Belgian Paul Berger and racing veteran Youri Loof; Great Britain’s Philipe Rann and Sean McCarter’s Swan 80 Umiko; Fox, the Botin 52 owned by American Victor Wild; plus the Swan 60 Lee Overlay Partners II by Britain’s Adrian Lee.
Smaller but just as swift, early entries and first-time competitors at Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille also include Voilactus by Eduardo Lenz; the X32 Tormund by Russian Nevion Sabadin; and the Melges 24 Pwal à Gratter by Frenchman Alexis Bordes.
Race organizers François Tolède and Luc Poupon are confident that St. Barth’s careful attention to preventing the spread of the virus, packaged with the island’s quintessential charm and Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille’s signature challenging racing, will attract many more entries as sailors worldwide are eager to safely return to racing in 2021. As always, the regatta offers a personal concierge service to assist teams with lodging, logistics and more to help ensure their St. Barth experience is like no other.
by Laura Muma