For more than forty years, the sailing world has navigated a huge array of restorations of old yachts. Championed by those well versed in the indescribable pleasure of reviving the most beautiful survivors of the golden age of yachting, these extraordinary sailboats are much adored by the public thanks to their ability to transport us way back in time.
In the wake of the Nioulargue, the Société Nautique and its teams are bestowing another privilege upon them: the chance to share the Gulf of Saint-Tropez with the most incredible craft on the modern, avant-garde yachting scene. Yet another reason to succumb to the charm of the 24th edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez in late summer.
Week 1: Doyennes to star at the gathering in Saint Tropez
Introduced two years ago, the popular two-week format is being carried over from 2021 with the opening week at Les Voiles being dedicated to the sumptuous fleet of classic yachts, with no limitation on length, as well as the modern craft measuring up to 18m28 (60-feet). This impressive line-up of contemporary and traditional marvels will be grouped together in and around the port of Saint Tropez. Among the traditional yachts is a superlative armada of seven large classic schooners, some of which boast an overall length in excess of 50 metres, including Elena of London and Shenandoah. Amidst an awesome fleet of more than 20 centenarians, the prize for seniority goes to Madcap, a boat dating right back to 1874, and a newcomer to Les Voiles. Indeed, classed as an Historic Monument in 2014, she’s the oldest recorded pilot-cutter in the world still fit to sail. The boat was restored in 2018 with the support of key economic players from the Commercial Port of La Rochelle. Among the modern craft measuring up to 18m28, Les Voiles is always a big hit among amateurs and specialists from the IRC B to F classes, which kick off the competition in the first week, with categories featuring up to forty or so competitors. The big news for this edition is the return to the fray of a 1973 Swan 44. There is nothing particularly spectacular about that fact perhaps, except to say that this very elegant monohull with a black hull is none other than Pride, one of two protagonists who, in 1981, faced off against the 12mR Ikra and, with the help of Patrice de Colmont, initiated the regatta which would go on to become known as the La Nioulargue, and since 1999, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. The boat has just been bought by a descendant of the original American owner, Dick Jayson so her presence is sure to give the event a very special flavour.
Week 2: 50 maxis in the gulf
Anything’s possible at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. Indeed, in the second week of racing, it’ll be time to play host to an extraordinary fleet comprising more than fifty maxis, on both one and now two hulls, plumping up the record turnout in 2021 to some 45 craft. This year, no fewer than ten or so Wallys will participate in Les Voiles Maxi Yachts, which is the largest fleet in years. Armed with their inimitable style, characterised by an ultra-contemporary design combining extraordinarily high performance and comfort, the class’ most phenomenal craft are bound to race with daggers drawn out on the race zone. As a result, it’s shaping up to be a veritable clash of the titans between boats measuring 100-feet and more: Spirit of Malouen X and Y3K, will be up against the three Wallycentos created from Luca Bassani’s 2013 box rule: Magic Carpet3 and Galateia, the two 100-footers designed by John Reichel and Jim Pugh, along with Tango 100, a design by the Californian naval architect based in Ireland, Mark Mills. Leaving the world of luxury and comfort for that of outright speed, the latter yard is also behind the incredible new addition racing in the second week of Les Voiles: the very first foiling big boat, inspired by the monohull technology showcased at the 36th edition of the America’s Cup: Flying Nikka. “The challenge set for us by Roberto Lacorte was not just to have a foiling sailboat, not just to foil long distances offshore, but to do so within the framework of the existing rules,” explains the naval architect. “This brings many challenges, as does the requirement to keep the project broadly accessible, using the best of the America’s Cup experiences in a project with the costs and sophistication more in line with a Grand Prix inshore boat like a Maxi 72.” The sensational foiling maxi will fly the flag for the Yacht Club Repubblica Marinara di Pisa, her owner being the club’s commodore no less.
Focus: An exclusive customisation workshop in the village at Les Voiles
This is one of the most highly prized services provided by the exclusive North Sails boutique, the official equipment manufacturer for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. Opening its doors wide to crews participating in the event, as well as to the public, the Custom Lab which gives the opportunity to have any technical and sportswear items purchased in the North Sails sales area/showroom embroidered or screen printed will be extended to a stand within the village. Any competitors wishing to take up this offer are welcome to place pre-orders for delivery in the run-up to the event. Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 1 : Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Modern and Classic Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September : registration for all the classic with no size limit and modern yachts measuring up to 18.28 metres Monday 26 September : racing for the modern yachts Tuesday 27, Wednesday 28, Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October : racing for the modern and classic yachts Thursday 29 September : Challenge Day Saturday 1 October : Prize-giving (week 1)
Week 2 : Les Voiles Maxi Yachts and Multihulls Sunday 3 and Monday 4 October : registration for the large modern yachts (Wally, Mini Maxi, Maxi, Super Maxi) and Performance Cruising Multihulls (in excess of 60-feet) Tuesday 4, Wednesday 5, Thursday 6, Friday 7, Saturday 8 : racing Saturday 8 October : Prize-giving (week 2)
Partners to Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
- NORTH SAILS
- SUZUKI MARINE
- BESSERAT DE BELLEFON
- TORPEZ (VIGNOBLES DE SAINT-TROPEZ)
- BERNARD OPTIC
- PEPINIERISTE PIERRE BASSET
- INTERNATIONAL MAXI ASSOCIATION
- PORT DE SAINT-TROPEZ
- LES MARINES DE COGOLIN
- FEDERATION FRANCAISE DE VOILE
- YACHT CLUB DE FRANCE
- Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez
- President: Pierre Roinson
- Principal Race Officer: Georges Korhel
- Race Secretary: Frédérique Fantino
- Technical Manager: Philippe Martinez
- Communication and Management Attaché: Chloé de Brouwer
Photo Credit : SNST/Gilles Martin-Raget
Press Relations : Maguelonne Turcat