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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2017: On course for an exceptional vintage

by Maguelonne Turcat 25 Jun 2017 13:34 BST 30 September - 8 October 2017
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez © Gilles Martin-Raget

An unmissable gathering at the end of September in the legendary port, the Voiles de Saint-Tropez approaches its 19th edition with continued enthusiasm.

More than 300 of the most beautiful yachts in the world, modern and classics, come together under the invitation of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, not only to race in the beautiful setting of the gulf but to also enjoy the incomparable atmosphere of this spectacular event at sea as on land. With three months of intense preparation ahead for the organisers, the event kicks-off on Saturday, September 30th.

On the water: the racing and the trophies

Whilst the beginning of the Voiles is traditionally given as Sunday, with the arrival of the feeder race from Cannes to Saint-Tropez, racing begins in the gulf on Monday with the modern yachts. Of the highlights, this year is an important birthday within the Wally series – the futuristic vessels combining leading-edge design with performance. 2017 sees the 20th anniversary of the Magic Carpet story, a date that highlights the long-term commitment of one of the strongest teams in the series under the leadership of its owner, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, including amongst other victories, two-time champions in real-time of the epic off-shore race for the Giraglia Rolex Cup.

From Tuesday, the classic yachts come into contention, with a debut appearance by Chips, a 1913 P Class. Following in the steps of Jour de Fête (Q Class), Olympian (Class P) and Spartan (NY 50), it will now be the turn of this elegant cutter designed by America's Cup genius, Starling Burgess (Ranger, Rainbow) to sail its first manoeuvres in the gulf of Saint-Tropez. First launched as Onda, a New Yorker won the boat in a game of poker in 1930, hence changing its name to "Chips"!

Also new in the Rolex Trophy – following the "Grands Tradition" which celebrated in 2016 the big classics, this trophy, which has been part of the Voiles since 2006, will be awarded in 2017 to the best in the 15m JI. These four exceptional boats, each one a centenarian and in fine condition, are the four aces of the gaff-rigged cutters representative of a golden age of yachting and a legendary architect, William Fife. Tuiga, flagship for the Monaco Yacht Club and launched in 1909, Hispania, constructed in the same year for King Alphonse XIII of Spain, The Lady Anne and Mariska will line up on the start line this year for this famous Trophy.

On the shore: the village at the heart of the Voiles

A derivative from 2016, the race village will once again take the form of an "avenue". This new format, born of necessity last year due to construction works for the enlargement of the Capitanerie, proved widely popular with some 4000 competitors, locals and spectators which it hosts each day. With greater available space this year due to the finishing of the works, the terrace area in front of the bar promises improved comfort. The new configuration will also see the return of the Rolex hospitality area. The Press office will be situated in the big structure at the end of the race village row.

Nerve centre to the event, even as festivities manifest around the port and the town, the race village is also the starting point for events such as the crew parade on Thursday evening: one of the highlights of the shore side entertainments during the Voiles.

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