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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - Day 5

by Maguelonne Turcat 5 Oct 2018 22:18 BST 29 September - 7 October 2018

The racing is in full swing in Saint Tropez. The Race Directors of the three race zones that make up Les Voiles have once again managed to cope brilliantly with this rather unique weather phenomenon that causes an unpredictable ENE'ly wind to blow off the shores of France's Var department. As such, coastal courses were able to be launched at midday across all the classes, Wallys, Modern and Classic yachts. Fluctuating a great deal in terms of strength and direction over the course of the afternoon, the E'ly breeze shuffled up some of the cards in the different rankings and offered a picture postcard finale when the futuristic Maxi yachts and other Wallys shifted into the gulf and melted into the Classic yachts.

With this new race validated for each of the competing groups, and on the eve of the last racing tomorrow, there is still everything to play for, particularly with some of the big names choosing today to falter. In this way, several groups will have to wait until the final tack of the final race to reveal their winner.

Tango, finally!

Magic Carpet3, the 2013 Reichel Pugh design is clearly giving her all to get her revenge over the Wallys and the 80-foot Lyra in particular, winner in 2017. However, the latter isn't giving an inch, even taking another win in corrected time today during the coastal course towards Cavalaire. Launched in very light airs at midday, the race gained in volume throughout the day, the NE'ly wind building to over ten knots, enabling some of the outsiders to show what they were made of. This was the case for the dark and magnificent Tango, which sailed a great race from beginning to end and won in elapsed time. Magic Carpet3 has had to make do with third place, creating great suspense on the eve of the decisive last race tomorrow, Saturday.

Cannonball reaps the benefits in IRC A

The much-awaited Maxi Rambler (Kouyoumdjian 2011) and the keenly observed My Song, (Baltic 130) kept bang on track in the light airs today, respectively finishing 2nd and 1st in the 21-mile course off Cavalaire. The leader of the provisional overall ranking Cannonball, despite a fairly average race, is set to benefit from her direct rival Jethou being over the line at the start to consolidate her lead. Of note, are the fine performances posted by the two J Classes Velsheda and Topaz, at the front of the pack throughout the light airs race. The Mylius 80 Twin Soul B also managed to show off her true potential in a complicated wind range.

A misstep for Gladiator

Very much into her stride to take the win in the Edmond de Rothschild Trophy among the IRC Cs, the fabulous and formidable British TP52 Gladiator stumbled today with a lacklustre 14th place. And yet Tony Langley's men had done their best, nailing the win in elapsed time ahead of Arobas, their main rival. However, they simply were not quick enough to smooth out their handicap in corrected time.

Classics: place your bets

With the threat of a boisterous gale looming offshore of the Gulf, Race Management for the Classic yachts this morning chose to send the venerable competitors, often dating back over 100 years, towards Issambres, which is well protected from the gulf. In a most fickle breeze, the navigators' nerves were really put to the test and there were numerous close-contact duels. In this way, within the highly prestigious group of 20 Fifes competing for the Rolex Trophy, a fantastic mano a mano ensued between three of the four 15 m JIs, Hispania, The Lady Anne and Mariska finishing the race in that order, mere seconds apart! However, today's big winner has to be Carron II (1935), which joins Viola (1908) on the top step of the provisional podium.

The complexity of organising the races at Les Voiles!

The 300-odd boats which make up the sublime fleet at this event in Saint Tropez are split into three very distinct big categories, the Wallys, the Modern yachts and the Traditional yachts. The Wallys, despite their different sizes, between 80 and 130-feet, race in the same class, the Modern yachts race according to their class rules in 5 IRC groups. The Classics, which represent over 130 years of yachting are, for the obvious reasons of fairness, split into no fewer than 13 groups, according to their size and rig type, namely gaff or Bermudan. The difficulty for Race Management, presided over by Georges Kohrel, lies in organising attractive races every day of the week in Saint Tropez, offering the racers a wide variety of points of sail and preferably avoiding any concertinaing between the Classes. That is the daily miracle performed by the organisation teams at Les Voiles who, depending on the weather forecast, each morning choose the day's courses for each of the three groups. The Wallys have their 'round' opposite Pampelonne, where they compete in either windward-leewards or coastal courses spanning twenty miles or so. The Modern yachts are positioned at the exit of the gulf, opposite Les Salins, whilst the venerable and much venerated traditional yachts take over the gulf, for the great delight of the numerous spectators, who can admire them from shore. And since we're referring to the shore, THE big problem with the very enchanting gulf of Saint Tropez are the shallows. "When you design a course off Pampelonne" explains Georges Kohrel, the seabed suddenly shelves, going from 17 metres... to 1,000 metres!" And therein lies the complexity of setting the essential passage marks in conditions such as these. However, the committee teams do a superb job every day, adapting everything according to the wind and the sea state (waves of over 3m recorded today and yesterday!) to the types of boats and the potentials of the different classes, in order to launch these fine races which delight the 4,000 racers and the 260 journalists and photographers who come along to share this highly exclusive spectacle.


Georges Kohrel, Principal Race Officer: "Though the race zone in Saint Tropez is an enchanting feast for the eyes, it is also devoid of insular references favourable to designing courses naturally. There are no rocky headlands or islets in or outside the gulf. As such we have to compensate for nature by setting our own passage marks. However, just miles from the coast, the seabed can reach a depth of over 1,000m, hence the complexity of designing and then modifying our courses..."

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