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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez Day 9 - Super Size!

by Maguelonne Turcat 6 Oct 2020 20:36 BST 26 September - 9 October 2020
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez © Gilles Martin-Raget

The first day of Les Voiles devoted to the Super Series has certainly lived up to expectations. In a beefy WSW'ly breeze, the 20 Maxi Yachts and the two sublime schooners Elena of London and Puritan really put on a show in the bay, with the Modern boats going right out to Le Lavandou.

Unsurprisingly Elena of London (Herreshoff 2009) in the Classic fleet and record hunter Leopard 3 (Farr 100) took the win in their respective groups, whilst the IRC 2s and IRC 3s also posted a dazzling performance, particularly during the start phases. With this comes the promise of some fierce clashes for the rest of the week, especially among the likes of the Wally 60 Ryokan2, the Frers 60 Spectre, Lady First 3, Leaps & Bounds (Mills62) and the Polish VOR65 Sisi.

The Maxis lengthen their stride

This morning's fine W'ly wind sweeping the shores of France's Var region prompted Race Director Georges Kohrel and his teams at Les Voiles to launch the 20 Maxi yachts on a long sprint towards Le Lavandou. This equated to a theoretical course of 23 miles to the island of Fourmigue and back. Split into three groups, these Super yachts set sail from 11:00 hours in the wake of the prototype Leopard 3. The former transatlantic record holder resolutely stretched away from the fleet on increasingly choppy seas in a well-established twenty knots or so of breeze. She crossed the finish line with a big lead after 4 hours of racing, but it was the British boat Umiko, which won on corrected time this evening.

Ryokan2 a force to be reckoned with...

The IRC2 group gathers together a particularly stellar line-up in terms of sporting excellence, as immediately evidenced in the start phase shortly after 11:15 hours this morning, as the 8 protagonists sprung off the line in unison. Powered up on starboard tack, Leaps & Bounds, Jean Philippe Blanpain's Le Vills-Vismara 62 was the quickest to hoist her spinnaker and run down towards the exit out of the bay. She brilliantly fended off the pacy Spectre, Peter Dubens' Frers 60, on which Nick Rogers, the British silver 470 medallist in the Olympics is racing.

The Mylius 60s, Maurits van Oranje's Sud and Jean-Pierre Dreau's Lady First 3 were accompanying a Wallyno - the boat owned by Benoit de Froidmont, President of the International Maxi Association - fresh out of yard, in what proved to be a superb first sprint downwind in close contact. Ultimately, it was the Wally80 Ryokan2 that excelled, Philippe Ligier's men securing the win in elapsed and corrected time, ahead of Spectre and Leaps & Bounds, after an especially hotly contested match. In IRC 3, it's Nina, Milan Markovic's BX60 which bagged victory in elapsed time after a course reduction off Camara Point.

Today's partners:

International Maxi Association: Benoit de Froidmont

The International Maxi Association (IMA) represents Maxi yacht owners the world over. Recognised in 2010 as the international Maxi yacht class by World Sailing, IMA is the only body authorised to organise officially sanctioned world championships for Maxi yachts. The IMA now boasts 60 members from all over the world. The current President of the IMA, Benoît de Froidmont, owns the Wally 60 Wallyño. The Secretary General is Andrew McIrvine, a former admiral and commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

With two affiliated classes (Maxi 72s and, since 2017, the J Class) and an associated class (Wally Class), together with other associations like the International Schooner Association, the IMA's mission is to "guide and structure maxi yacht races". For the second year running, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez forms part of the Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge.

"We've had to do without them this year! No racing has been held at all this season. It's only thanks to Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez that we can finally get in some racing in 2020, but the IMA is holding its course since two more owners have joined us. The class is continuing to develop by working on new avenues such as a championship in the Caribbean akin to that in the Mediterranean. We remain optimistic about 2021 thanks to what is already a very full event schedule, particularly with regards to our affiliated classes, the J Class and Wallys.

As far as Wallyno's participation in Les Voiles is concerned, we made a few modifications over the winter which we're going to trial here. There's some great competition out on the water. Our English friends aren't here but there will be stiff opposition from the Swiss and the Dutch. On a technological level, foils are on everyone's minds, but they're not yet par for the course on our boats. We're closely monitoring the Imocas, which are like Formula 1 boats for us. We're hoping to have some fun on the water and to enjoy the fair play and sociability that is so typical of the Saint Tropez spirit."

Port of Saint Tropez: Jean François Tourret

Jean François Tourret has been the director of the Port of Saint Tropez for the past 11 seasons already. Thanks to the professionalism of his teams, 2020 has run smoothly despite there being fewer numbers. "With around 130 boats during the first week of Les Voiles, we didn't have any particular difficulties. This edition is the perfect reflection of what we've experienced this year, with a massive amount of cancellations and the absence of our American and Anglo-Saxon friends. Les Voiles remains the highlight of our year though and all my teams have pulled out all the stops to welcome the racers."

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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