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20th Anniversary Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - Day 3

by Maguelonne Turcat 2 Oct 2019 22:08 BST 28 September - 6 October 2019
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Day 3 © Gilles Martin-Raget

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is the most impressive gathering of Classic and Modern yachts. Featuring nearly 300 boats and 4,000 sailors, today, on what proved to be a very windy afternoon, the competitors took full advantage of the legendary charms of the little port in France's Var region, where the festivities continue day and night.

Naval architects, boat owners, commodores and skippers of renown, sailing large traditional sail boats, futuristic Wallys, sublime little cutters or yawls, some of them centenarians, all had the chance to come together, exchanging ideas, sharing thoughts and chatting in all the languages about the good health of the sailing planet. The previous day's racing naturally fuelled many a discussion and so it is with great gusto that these stalwarts of Les Voiles will head back out into the bay tomorrow to turn today's words into actions out on the water...

Challenge Day: game on for the Wallys, Maxis and large schooners!

On Thursday, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is celebrating the creative spirit of the original regatta in a sprint towards Nioulargue between the 12mR Ikra and Pride, the American Swan 44. Competitors are traditionally invited to challenge fellow competitors they have an affinity with rather than sticking to a measurement logic, with the emphasis on the sheer enjoyment value. From noon then, contenders will line themselves up level with the Portalet Tower, in front of the sea wall off the port of Saint Tropez, at which point the various challengers will set sail one after the other, beneath the gaze of the public flocked around the Jean Réveille jetty. With the protagonists competing for the Club 55 Cup first to head off, a series of most unlikely and eagerly awaited challenges will follow suit until the middle of the afternoon. The large schooners, Wallys and Maxis are also keen to put on a show tomorrow so it's game on for everyone in Saint Tropez on Thursday!

Club 55 Cup, the pioneering spirit!

In addition to the illustrious sports trophies contested during Les Voiles, the Club 55 Cup adds a very unique twist to proceedings by way of a homage to an idea devised by Patrice de Colmont that is in line with the original spirit of the regatta. Indeed, this whole event in Saint Tropez as it stands today began as a friendly competition between two captains, who set themselves a challenge for the love of the sport, in a bid to size up the performance of a yacht and her crew in relation to another. In its time, the Club 55 Cup has declared 9 separate winners. For this 2019 edition, the two protagonists are sure to reflect the wonderful duels of times gone by since it is the 12mR Ikra which will be challenging Solte, the fine Swan 53 tomorrow. Launching into a 15 nautical mile sprint from the Portalet Tower to the Nioulargue mark and on to Le Club 55... the first to finish takes the win and lays down a challenge for the following year with a boat of their choice, the whole thing rounding off in a rather sumptuous luncheon beneath the tamarisks of the Club 55 for both crews.

The low-down on the leader board...

The Modern yachts competing in Les Voiles 2019 are split into nine groups, whilst the Classic yachts are distributed amongst 10 groups, according to their size and rig-type. Yesterday's racing confirmed the main runners and riders, with the favourites seemingly on form. In this way, the much-awaited Sumurun (Fife 1914) is certainly one of the stand-out performers ahead of two craft very familiar with the podiums in Saint Tropez, Mariska (Fife 1908) and Moonbeam of Fife (Fife 1903). Ester (Mellgren 1901) and Kismet (Fife 1898) are already in contention for a win among the gaffers this Sunday, whilst Yanira, Stiren, Il Moro di Venezia, Cippino II, Sonda and Emilia Prima also have the edge this evening in the respective groups of Marconi-rigged yachts.

Velsheda (Camper&Nicholson 1933), Kallima (Frers 2001), Flow (Frers 2005) and Vesper are excelling in their large IRC A group. Meantime, the highly competitive and very packed group of IRC Bs is dominated by the Swan Solte this evening, tailed by the Mylius 50 Daguet 2, and the Swiss Baltic 50 Music. 33 boats are racing in IRC C, and it's the TP52 Nanoq, belonging to Prince Frederik of Denmark that is leading the way, followed by another 52-footer, Rowdy Too. IRC D is equally popular with no fewer than 40 yachts. Bella Donna, Jean Marie Gennari's Farr 40 is top of the pile. Give Me 5 in IRC E and Pitch among the 'petite' IRC Fs are also in with a chance of victory.

9th edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy

An absolute must for the centenarians, the Centenary Trophy is disputed as a pursuit race on the Thursday within the context of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, the boats crossing the start line according to their rating and the first to cross the finish line takes the win. Over the years, the GYC Centenary Trophy has become the 'grand finale' for the classic yachts in Saint Tropez. Naturally, numerous participants and past winners come back for more, whilst boats that have recently turned a hundred sign up for the first time. As such, the 2019 line-up boasts several new arrivals, like the 8-Metre 1917 Apache designed by Norwegian architect Johan Anker, a name synonymous the world over with the Dragon. Another newcomer is Ester, the 1901 gaff sloop designed by Gunnar Mellgren, following her unique 'resurrection'. Two big boats are also making their Centenary Trophy debut. Black Swan, a gaff-rigged ketch designed by Charles E. Nicholson in 1899 and celebrating her 120th birthday and Sumurun, a 1914 Marconi ketch designed by William Fife III with multiple wins to her credit, whose past guests have included Mick Jagger and John Kerry.

These Big Boats will have to keep an eye out for other smaller but faster boats, like the 7-Metre Endrick, designed by William Fife III in 1912, sailed by her owner-skipper Jean Degaudenzi, an Olympic sailor.

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