Happiness is… Les Voiles

03/10/2017, Saint-Tropez (FRA,83), Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2017, jour3

With the remnants of the gale that bruised the fleet at Les Voiles yesterday seemingly still picking for a fight this morning, it was a tense time for some on the pontoons. However, by midday, the atmosphere had calmed down considerably, with the swell becoming flatter to enable all the different rounds to be launched for the Modern and Classic yachts and the Wallys. Big and sleek, the latter group linked together two windward-leeward courses off Pampelonne, whilst the Modern and Classic yachts crossed swords at the edge of the bay in sunshine reminiscent of the height of summer.  Tomorrow, in line with a now well-established tradition, the competition element of Les Voiles will give way to a rather special day that is much prized by the racing fraternity. Indeed, Challenge Day, which commemorates the creative spirit of Nioulargue, ancestor to Les Voiles, was invented in 1981 as a result of the historic friendly duel between Pride and Ikra. Tomorrow’s edition will have as a theme the long-standing solidarity between Saint Tropez and Saint-Barth, following the passage of Hurricane Irma, with the slogan: all sailors, all stand together.

Cannonball on a run The brand new Maxi 72 Cannonball, launched back in the spring according to a Botin design and with a win in Palma to her credit already, is now getting her bearings in Saint Tropez. Eliminated after an OCS yesterday, she set the record straight today by taking the win in corrected time after a pretty 25-mile sprint between Pampelonne and Portalet. In an easing NE’ly wind, Dario Ferrari’s steed set a blistering pace, finishing just shy of the 100-foot high-tech jewel, Rambler. Though the Maxi My Song was first across the finish line in elapsed time, once the times were calculated with their respective handicaps, she was beaten by Marten 72 Aragon and the VOR 70 Babsy skippered by Franck Cammas and Lionel Péan. The latter was top of the provisional overall ranking (prior to the jury) at the midway mark, ahead of My Song and Farfalla, the Mario Pedol-designed superyacht.

Sovereign reaps the benefits It was another hotly-disputed day of racing among the 12 m JIs. In a breeze relished by Sovereign, the 1972 Robertson design posted a stellar performance amidst the chop and her adversaries, and after much jockeying for position and faultless sailing with hotshots Nicolas Bérenger at the helm and Nicolas Fauroux on the nav., she took the deserved bullet in today’s race. France (Mauric 1970) managed to limit the damage by finishing ahead of Ikrapour. The rivalry between this class will continue during tomorrow’s Challenge Day, with a thrilling face-off between Ikra (Boyd 1964), France and Sovereign.

Mariska does the business After having to retire from yesterday’s action due to the ‘boat-breaking seas’, Mariska had to pull out all the stops today in the fantastic confrontation between the four Fife designs from the 15 m JI class. With the Rolex Trophy up for grabs, Christian Niels’ men nailed it. Getting off to a clean start, despite being heavily marked by Tuiga, the crew were first around the weather mark towards Les Issambres and managed a controlled descent towards Portalet to post the win, taking the 1908 Fife to the top of the provisional leader board.

Tomorrow, the Challenges! On Thursday, in line with tradition, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez celebrates the creative spirit of the original race to Nioulargue between Ikra and Pride. The competitors are invited to challenge one another according to their affinities, free of the constraints of any rule, for the simple pleasure of racing.

Of note, the four 15 m JIs competing in the Rolex Trophy will compete in one race in the bay tomorrow. Club 55 Cup: on the trail of the pioneers  Beyond the illustrious sports trophies contested during Les Voiles, the Club 55 Cup holds a rather unique place. Relaunched in 2003, this special mid-week duel is more than a commemoration. Indeed, it is a genuine tribute to the spirit of racing as it was practiced in the last century, when, inspired to engage in a friendly competition, two captains set a challenge for the love of the sport, the only stakes of which were the pleasure of competing against one another and comparing the performances of a yacht and its crew out on the water. Since it was created, the Club 55 Cup can boast but 8 winners, Ikra (12 m JI) in 2003 and 2004, The Blue Peter (20m Bermudan cutter, Mylne 1930) in 2005 and 2006, Lucia (19m Bermudan yawl, Alden 1940) in 2007 and 2008, Cambria (40m Bermudan rig 23mJI, Fife 1928) in 2009, Mariquita (33m gaff-rig 19mJI, Fife 1911) in 2010 and 2011, Altaïr (40m gaff-rig schooner, Fife 1931) in 2012, Moonbeam III (25m gaff-rig cutter, Fife 1903) in 2014 (2013 having racing cancelled due to storms), as well as 2015, and finally Eugenia V (21m60 Marconi ketch) in 2016. The regulations for this Cup are perfectly simple in principle: two boats challenge each other on Thursday on what is a 15-mile course – Portalet Tower, Nioulargue mark, Le Club 55 –, and the boat that finishes ahead of the other wins and goes on to challenge a boat of its choice the following year, the whole thing rounding off with the unmissable luncheon beneath the tamarisks of the Club 55 for both crews. Already slightly embellished since its creation – if one boat wins it twice, the runner-up becomes the new  »defender », whatever the result on the water – the rules of this highly ceremonial competition have had to evolve still further.  Indeed, the very strict regulations of the Club 55 – which include a deposit in bottles of rosé from the peninsula in the event of a protest – give no indication as to who will be able to quaff these or what the outcome will be! The only imperative is that the owner of the boat must be aboard on the day of the formidable event. Tomorrow, Eugenia V has opted to challenge Savannah, the 27.50m sloop penned by Pedrick (1996).

News in brief Fan zone tomorrow, Thursday. A happy, festive spirit is something for everyone to share – locals, participants and the public – which requires the organisers and the public authorities to take into account all the possible safety elements. It is within this context that Thursday 5 (parade of the crews) and Saturday 7 October will see the port switch to « fan zone » configuration, a device that is now very familiar to those taking part and notably reduces vehicular access to the port and close to the race village. It’s worth noting here that peak visitor numbers during Les Voiles are similar to peak days during the summer season, such as 14 July or 15 August, where 50 to 80,000 people/day are commonplace.

Quotes: Lionel Péan; Babsy “We had a bit less breeze today, which also eased into the bargain. As a result, our VOR 70 wasn’t as at ease as she was yesterday. Despite that, we sailed very well as the understanding between Franck Cammas’ crew and those who usually sail the boat was spot on. Cannonball, the new Mini Maxi showed her best side today, together with Rambler, Aragon and My Song…”

Nicolas Bérenger, Sovereign “We had a great day and were totally in control. We managed to slip ahead of France just before the finish, with Il Moro sneaking ahead of Ikra. It’s game on once more for our group, to the great delight of everyone involved…”

Today’s partners Gitana Team on Saint Tropez time This year, from 2 to 8 October, the Gitana Team has once again headed to the South of France with the racing stable’s GC32. A 10-metre flying catamaran equipped with L-shaped foils and lifting surfaces on the rudders, this craft helmed by three crew, is the perfect platform for showing the Group’s guests the powerful, unique sensations involved in flying a boat across the water. At a time when some legendary classic yachts and equally iconic modern craft are doing battle in the Baie de Pampelonne, the presence of the GC 32 Edmond de Rothschild in the waters of Saint Tropez is also a nod to the objectives and ambitions that are currently driving Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild and the Gitana Team. Launched in late 2012, the GC 32 is a 32-foot foiling catamaran designed by Martin Fischer according to an idea by Laurent Lenne. The aim of this ambitious project is to create a new one-design circuit for top-level inshore racing on flying catamarans, the « Great Cup”. Vincent Taupin, Chairman of the Edmond de Rothschild board (France): “Sailing has been a tradition for 140 years within the Rothschild family and it’s a natural sponsorship theme for our Group. This is particularly true at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, the event that took over from the Nioulargue, which Baron Edmond de Rothschild won in 1984 on Gitana VIII. In 2000, his son Benjamin de Rothschild transformed the family passion into a school of excellence by creating Gitana Team, a racing stable that ranks as one of the most competitive on the French offshore racing scene. On a personal level, as a sailing enthusiast, I’m very happy that our Group is a part of the racing tradition in Saint Tropez and, at the same time, is taking up the gauntlet of offshore racing, by lining up for the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre on 5 November 2017 with the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. As chairman of the Group in France, I join all our associates in proudly supporting the sailors who fly our flag and are actively perpetuating the family saga.” At Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, the Edmond de Rothschild Trophy rewards the winner of the ‘modern yachts’ category – IRC C.

Danone Group The natural mineral water evian® has its source at the heart of the ancient Alps, a quite unique geological site. For over 15 years, it has journeyed through the rocks and is enriched with essential mineral elements. To preserve the exceptional quality of this water, Man has been protecting the nature around its source for over 20 years. Naturally pure, with a unique and constant mineral balance, evian® natural mineral water ensures that all its consumers spanning over 140 countries, are perfectly hydrated throughout the day.  For several years, evian® has been supporting sport through a series of major international events, associating the importance of remaining hydrated, sport and the “Live young” spirit of youth, which is essential for a healthy, balanced life. This year, the brand is joining forces with Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez to infuse a « Live young » spirit into it and ensure that over 4,000 international sailors competing aboard the finest classic and modern yachts in the world are properly hydrated.

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