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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez Day 4 - Challenges galore

by Maguelonne Turcat 1 Oct 21:34 BST 26 September - 9 October 2020
Voiles de Saint-Tropez day 4 © Gilles Martin-Raget

Thursday at Les Voiles is entirely dedicated to the celebration of the spirit of Les Voiles, a heady mix of flat-out racing and good old fair play, where skippers and owners challenge one another to an amicable duel or battle, simply for the beauty of the sport and the unadulterated fun of racing and the chance to slug it out side by side and have a good old blow-out.

Following on from a start to the week that presented ideal conditions for all the races to be validated, the weather today offered the boats a chance to slip along gently in the sunshine over calmed waves. Out on the water, various styles were in evidence, including the pretenders for the Club 55 Cup The Kid (JP54 from 2010) against Ikra (Boyd 1964) and the inter-class quarrel between the three sublime P-Class boats. Either way, this was sport in its purest form, demonstrating the beauty of the gesture and elegance of movement.

Ikra wins the Club 55 Cup

Such wonderful conditions for a challenge, and surely this one best embodies the spirit of the Nioulargue, which inspired Les Voiles. The historic Ikra, the 12mR helmed this year by Hugues Destremau, challenged The Kid, the prototype inspired by Jean Pierre Dick's Imoca class. Tradition rivalling modernity then. However, with vastly different designs and potentials, skippers Jean Pierre Dick on the one side, and François Morault on the other, came to a gentleman's agreement yesterday evening with regards today's play, which is traditional judged in elapsed time according to the IRC rule. In this way, The Kid set off this morning with a 20-minute handicap. The SW'ly wind was a little shifty offering the crews some real sport and plenty of jockeying for position. Ultimately, Jean Pierre Dick took the win by just over 5 minutes, which meant that victory in corrected time went to... Destremau's Ikra!

Today's challenges

A dozen or so challenges were registered on today's programme in celebration of the history of the Nioulargue from which Les Voiles hails, with duels as well as 3 and 5-way battles as desired. Setting sail just before noon, the P-Class yachts, Corinthian, Chips and Olympian launched onto a hazardous 9-mile sprint with the wind clocking round from the east to south-west and with it some unlikely comebacks and leader changes before Olympian came good and took the win in what looked like a very fun match! Meantime, the duelling TP52s Spirit of Malouen and Freccia Rossa were absolutely neck and neck today in their friendly, but ultimately the advantage went to Stéphane Névé and his Spirit of Malouen who really brought his A' game today.

Period Gaffers

Rolex Trophy; advantage Eva - Gathering together 6 sumptuous gaff rigs dating back over a century, the Rolex Trophy gathers together the oldest competitors at Les Voiles. The battle was particularly fierce today between the duelling Fifes, Viola (1908) and Eva (1906), the latter seemingly at ease at every point of sail and able to counter any attacks with aplomb. The venerable Lulu (1897) is duelling with Nin (Quenel 1913) in the race for third place.

Scud holding court in the P Class in Class A - The gaff sloop Scud (Herreshoff 1903) is really showing what she's made of in Saint Tropez in the formidable armada of 31-footers launched in the 1920s. The Swedish 10mR Marga is proving to be a particularly stiff opponent but the competition is nail-bitingly close with all the boats grouped within 6 minutes yesterday.

Period Marconi: Meerblick Classic, the best and worst - The German Bermudan sloop Meerblick Classic (Anker 1917) excelled yesterday against the Olin Stephens yawl Comet (1946), but came last in Monday's breezy conditions. Meantime, Skylark 1937 (Olin Stephens 1937), has enjoyed one race victory. As a result, perhaps the win may go to the week's most consistent performance overall...

Varuna of 1939 moves up into the lead in A - Among the Large Period Marconis, at the start of the week Eileen 1938 (Anker 1938), Manitou (Olin Stephens 1937) and Ellen(Talma 1931) found their master in Varuna of 1939, a Sparkman design and comfortable winner of the week's first two races in elapsed and corrected time.

Anyone's game in the Period Marconi Cs Andale (Nicholas Potter 1951), Sonda (Mc Gruer 1951) and Rainbow III (Fife 1927) all sailed some fine races this week and the suspense is palpable in this tightly grouped class!

The ones to watch among the Classic yachts

Classic Marconis: The yawl Hermitage helmed by Lionel Péan is currently champion in the breeze while Baptiste Garnier's ketch Eugenia V (Rhodes 1968) relishes the light so perhaps it's the weather which will select the winner of these imposing craft this week.

Stiren in pole position in B - Of the Classic Marconi Bs, Stiren (Stephens 1937) was yesterday's big winner, ahead of another Olin-Stephens design, Palynodie II (1962).

Ikra dominates - The iconic 12mR Ikra is pretty much trouncing the Italian Bermudan sloop Il Moro di Venezia (Frers 1976) with two nice, clean wins, which bodes well for the second half of the week and the potential for revenge...

Guest class: Windhover-Josephine, neck and neck - The Bermudan cutter Windhover ((Luke 1904) and Bermudan IOD Josephine (Aas 1959) are impossible to separate for now with one victory and one second place each so there's everything to play for in this group.

The Modern craft vying for the top spots

Three days of racing and as many races validated for the 6 groups of Modern craft, 5 in IRC and one TP52 group...

Of the TP52s, Vadim Yakimenko Freccia Rossa has a slight edge for now. However, the ex Paprec soared on Monday in the breeze to take a fine victory and a second place overall, while Gérard Logel's Arrobas2 is posting a consistent performance in third in elapsed time.

In the high-tech IRC B, Grand Soleil, Mylius, Nacira and X50 are all pretenders for victory, but it's Frédéric Puzin's Mylius 50 Daguet2 which is really creating a stir with two victories in the bag. However, her counter-performance in Tuesday's light airs opened the door to Billy Besson, skipper of the Nacira 47 Prétexte, who is in ambush this evening among others...

The IRC Cs are vying for the BMW Trophy and Giovani Di Vincenzo's Ker 46 Lisa R sailed a blinder on Monday and Wednesday, including one in elapsed time. However, the crew will have to keep an eye on two serious contenders this week, Robert Coriat's Grand Soleil 43 Couleur Soleil and Jean Pierre Joly's GP 42 Confluence.

In IRC D, with no fewer than 20 competitors, Nicolas Gonzales is clearly very much at home on the waters of the bay aboard Lady, a Dufour 40 with two race wins to her credit and a second place in the third match. Her closest rival is Yves Grosjean and his J 133 Jivaro.

It's a similar scenario in IRC E, where J 99 King of Blue has been victorious in 2 of the 3 races contested. Jean François Nouel's Sun Fast 3200 Hakuna Matata is giving her a run for her money but the end result will go to the wire with Buran.

Finally, with the Code zeros, Code 1 and Wallyno all grouped as one, the Code 1 Black Legend evidently excels in the light airs but had to bow to the supremacy of the pacy Tofinou 9,5s Pitch and Team 42, which have their sights on victory this evening.

Today's partners:

The Maison Besserat de Bellefon was founded in 1843 in Aÿ by Edmond Besserat. The Champagne Besserat de Bellefon is unique in that it is considered to be a 'gastronomic' champagne. Indeed, the different qualities of the Cuvée des Moines are designed to accompany any meal. As such, it is mainly distributed at wine merchants, large hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants. Moreover, the bubbles from the Champagnes Besserat de Bellefon are famed for being 30% finer than those of traditional champagne.

EAUX 808
It is at a depth of 808 metres that 808 water is of a particularly high standard. "It's Artois Source is the deepest in Europe, free of pollution and nitrates", explains Umberto Ronsivalle, the source's main shareholder. "To preserve its rare qualities, Eaux 808 has made the decision within the context of its commitment to the environment, to bottle its water in recyclable glass. The 808 has a low mineral content." The story begins in 2009, when engineer André Lamothe discovered the ground water below Meyreuil. This geothermic site is one of the most important discoveries in France in recent years. "Our desire is to become a leader in boating in the South of France. Scientific research is set to begin on our water, whose purity holds great appeal for the sports world."

Week 1: The Voiles de Saint-Tropez

  • Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September: registration for boats up to 20 meters (except for certain classes)
  • Monday 28th September: racing for modern yachts
  • Tuesday 29th, Wednesday 30th September, Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd October: racing for modern yachts and classic yachts
  • Thursday 1st October: Challenge Day
  • Saturday 3rd October: prize-giving (week 1)

Week 2: The Voiles Super Boats

  • Sunday 4th and Monday 5th October: big boat registration (Wally, IRCA, Maxi yachts, big Classic, big Schooner)
  • Tuesday 6th, Wednesday 7th, Thursday 8th, Friday 9th: big boat racing
  • Friday 9th October: prize-giving (week 2)

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