40 years of the Nioulargue, a birthday not to be missed!

29/09/2020, Saint-Tropez (FRA,83), Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2020, Day 3

A festive atmosphere will be afloat this year both on the dock and in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez: 2021 is a milestone in the history of this extraordinary event.  1981 saw the birth of the Club 55 Cup, which became the Nioulargue, already bearer of the DNA for Les Voiles: a classic boat and a modern boat.  In the wake of this epic challenge, the most beautiful boats in the world, ultra-modern or a century old, have continued to meet in the waters of the Gulf to hoist the sails of les Voiles de Saint-Tropez at the end of the Tropezian season. 

40 years of seafaring history
It all began on September 29, 1981, with a bet intended to defend a sailor’s honour between Pride, Dick Jason’s American Swan 44, and Ikra, the 12MJ1 skippered by Frenchman Jean Laurain.  The challenge could not have been simpler:  starting at the foot of the Tour du Portalet, in front of Saint-Tropez village, turning around the shallow-water Nioulargo mark (or ‘offshore nest’ in Provencal) and a finish at Pampelonne beach in front of event orchestrator Patrice de Colmont’s “Club 55”, for lunch under the shade of the Tamaris trees.  Ikra came in ahead of Pride, a challenge that gave life to the “Club 55 Cup”. From this improbable duel was born a unique event, a special gathering that has been racing for 40 years and sees the smallest racing boats with the prestigious Maxi yachts, ultra-sophisticated prototypes with famous classic yachts joining in essence with the rich tropezian maritime past.
The incomparable and inimitable Nioulargue would continue to exist for fifteen years, mixing world famous sailors with teams of all levels, world champions, offshore sailors, Olympic medallists, America’s Cup winners with royalty and celebrities who remained incognito and at ease. Once this nautical jousting was concluded, the nights were eternalised by boules competitions, anchoiades and other festivities oftentimes spontaneously improvised on the dock, in the Place des Lices and thereabouts.
Within the continuum of this conviviality bolstered by good sportsmanship, each year the Nioulargue would continue to surprise with a stroke of brilliance in the vision of the Maxis, the J Class, the three-masters, the schooners and the gaff cutters, alongside the futuristic Wallys.  
After so many years of success and recognition, the sixteenth edition saw tragedy following the collision between the schooner Mariette and the 6M JI Taos Brett IV.  The event was put on hold until 1999, when, under the impetus of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, les Voiles de Saint-Tropez was born.
 
A new format on the water, ashore, a village to imagine

Taking up a maxim dear to the Société Nautique, of which he has been President since 2020, Pierre Roinson sums up the spirit of les Voiles: “When we celebrate an anniversary, we are often asked the same question: what will be special at the Voiles this year? Well, the answer is simple: each edition of the Voiles is exceptional!”.  A certain number of novelties will mark this edition, and in particular the new format of the event over two weeks – like last year- but with the entire fleet of traditional yachts in the first week, at the same time as the modern boats up to 60 foot (18.28 meters).   The second week will be exclusively reserved for maxi yachts which will race from Tuesday 5 to 9 October and will have the advantage of an additional day of racing compared to last year, on the Saturday. This two-week organisation has an advantage that is appreciated by both racers and the public, it gives the possibility of all starts being in front of the village.  For the safety of all on the water, an exclusion zone is planned and start sequences allowing the race committee, under the leadership of Principal Race Officer, Georges Korhel, to create a “waiting zone” at the far end of the gulf for the classic boats while race starts for the modern boats are given.
On shore, even if instruction concerning the sanitary situation by the end of summer is yet to be defined, the village is full of life and a conviviality which is desired by all, and for which the organising committee spares no effort. “Our first priority is to ensure the safety of all” specifies Sabrina Coccia, who, since April, has taken up the position of manager of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez.  “Not only our permanent teams, but also the hundreds of volunteers involved in the organisation on land and on the water, our partners, our suppliers, and of course, that of the French and overseas competitors.  We also want to set an example to the public through the implementation of government and prefectural instruction. Our goal is to guarantee excellence, and that each of our partners finds his place and can benefit from the corresponding visibility thanks to the extraordinary platform that is the Voiles de Saint-Tropez, with peace of mind and in the best possible conditions.”

 
Program 2021
Week 1: Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September: registration for all classic and modern yachts up to 60 foot (18.28m)
Monday, September 27: regattas for modern yachts
Tuesday 28, Wednesday 29 September, Friday 1, Saturday 2 October: regattas for modern and classic yachts
Thursday, September 30: Challenge Day
Saturday, October 2: Prize Giving (Week 1)

Week 2: Les Voiles Maxi Yachts
Sunday 3 and Monday 4 October: registration for modern yachts over 60 foot (18.28m): Wally, IRCA, Maxi yachts
Tuesday 5, Wednesday 6, Thursday 7, Friday 8, Saturday 9: regattas
Saturday, October 9: Prize Giving (Week 2)

The partners to Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
ROLEX
BMW
NORTH SAILS
CHAMPAGNE BESSERAT DE BELLEFON
SUZUKI MARINE
MARSHALL
MERCANTOUR EVENTS

TORPEZ (VIGNOBLES DE SAINT-TROPEZ)
BERNARD OPTIC
INTERNATIONAL MAXI ASSOCIATION
LA VILLE DE SAINT-TROPEZ
PORT DE SAINT-TROPEZ
LES MARINES DE COGOLIN
FEDERATION FRANCAISE DE VOILE
YACHT CLUB DE FRANCE   

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