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Maximum fun at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

by Maguelonne Turcat 8 Oct 05:39 BST 25 September - 9 October 2021

It was under azure skies, the race zone bathed in sunshine, that the 44 Maxis (Aegir having remained in port) competing in the second week of Les Voiles 2021 negotiated the day's coastal course.

With an E'ly wind and a hint of S'ly picking up to around ten or so knots, the Race Committee managed to concoct a fine looped circuit of around thirty miles or so towards the Nioulargue mark on very ordered seas. With another day comes another race configuration and the medium wind and flat waters reenergised the Mini Maxis, which had been much less comfortable in the very rough weather at the start of the week. All the crews revelled in the opportunity to get the very best out of their admirable steeds in the wake of Comanche, which absolutely excelled in all the day's weather configurations.

Rambler or Magic Carpet Cubed? Place your bets!

With less pressure in the sails, the absence of chop and a few variations in wind direction, the conditions for this second race of Act 2 of Les Voiles were virtually a reversal of the trends observed in the initial rankings. Seriously outpaced by Comanche, Rambler and Magic Carpet Cubed earlier on in the week, the Wally 100 Y3K was able to wreak her revenge today by staying in as close contact as possible to the leaders to take the race win on corrected time. Rambler dug deep with some upwind performances that were fairly similar to those of Comanche and hoisted herself up onto the top step of the provisional general ranking.

Damien Durchon has been the boat captain of Comanche since 2019, a post he previously occupied on Mari Cha III and IV. "It's Mitch Booth who skippers the boat when we're racing. I am responsible for the boat the rest of the time, transforming myself into crew the moment the starting gun fires. We've had another wonderful day, which was really suited to us because as the wind swung round to the south, the course offered up lots of reaching, the boat's favourite point of sail. We took the win again in elapsed time, but we know it's impossible to recover from our rating. As a result, our challenge is to win all the races in elapsed time. To do that, we must try to contain our two most rugged adversaries, Magic Carpet Cubed and Rambler. They are formidable in the very light airs. I'm very familiar with Les Voiles and I like the new format, which treats the Maxis to some fantastic racing which all flows much better as the race zone is not so crowded, with boats of all kinds and varying degrees of manoeuvrability..."

Lyra scores a bullet!

The clash of the titans, Topaz and Velsheda in IRC2, reached a whole new level of intensity today, the two J Classes posting very similar performances at every point of sail along the route from Nioulargue to Issambres. Powered up nicely under Le Portalet, Topaz straightaway boasted a slight advantage which her crew endeavoured to build on. Silvertip, the Dubois design, whose pretensions are clear, really brought her A game, but ultimately it was Topaz which slipped under Le Portalet with a comfortable lead after nearly three hours of thrilling mano a mano. This evening, she's in a rather flattering first place in the overall provisional ranking ahead of Silvertip. Among the other groups there were a number of boats who ruled supreme today: Jethou in IRC3A, the pretty group of 72-footers and the Wally 77.4 Lyra, which scored another bullet after a phenomenal victory in the big breeze of Tuesday. Behind her in second place this evening is the Marten 72 Aragon, which is already 5 points off the pace! After the cancellation of their race on the Tuesday, the IRC4s validated their first race and it's French Kiss, which was first in both corrected and elapsed time and tops the leader board. Meantime, the Wallys have their own ranking and their own Trophy, independent of their measurement groups. Unsurprisingly Lyra is leading the charge this evening after two races, ahead of Ryokan 2 and Magic Carpet.

Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the International Maxi Association; helping the organisers to attract even more owners...

"I'm delighted that Les Voiles agreed to our participation with this second week dedicated to the Maxis! Our goal, our objective, is to assist organisers the world over with understanding and integrating the specific needs of Maxi yachts. In this way, we began working in Porto Cervo and we now have a presence here as well as in the Caribbean, on a very friendly footing. We want to be able to offer advice to the owners in our Class about events which are geared up specially for them. The idea is to encourage them to come along in increasing numbers. These owners spend significant sums over the course of a week, on their crews, logistics, etc. and naturally they need to be certain that the event will be organised appropriately. However, they adore Saint Tropez! Saint Tropez is so special that this year we've managed to gather together our finest fleet. To have the port to ourselves is fabulous and there's certainly a case for doing the same in the future. It's all part of the magic of Saint Tropez that you can pace the docks and admire the J Classes, Wallys and all these Maxis! This year's atmosphere is really all about renewal. We've only had a few events this year so finishing the season here makes everyone feel happy and enthusiastic. The Race Committee has done a fantastic job managing the racing with boats which have very different potentials, like Comanche and Rambler, and some of the yachts are more geared towards sailing rather than racing... Some crews are very professional, but once again the atmosphere is a very happy one this week."

Note well...

To ensure you have a full understanding of the events, race No.1 of IRC4 has been cancelled. Solely the Southern Wind 78 Elise Whisper finished the race on Tuesday. Since then, the large Irish sloop has switched category and is now competing in IRC3. As a result, the IRC4 group will only compete in 3 races this week, none of which will count towards the final calculation.

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