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A dazzling finale to Act 1 of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2022

by Maguelonne Turcat 1 Oct 21:10 BST 24 September - 8 October 2022

Thousands of square metres of sails have been lowered in a joyous din this Saturday evening after a truly amazing finale to part one of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2022.

The particularly boisterous conditions that greeted today's fleets prompted the Race Committee and the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez's teams to turn the programme on its head from the crack of dawn to make the most of a lively but manageable weather window early this morning. Tonight, the thousands of crews competing on the Modern sailboats measuring less than 60 feet and the incredible fleet of Classic yachts who slugged it out on the water, have absolutely no regrets. Indeed, their heads are filled with memories and their batteries have been fully recharged out on the racecourse, and they're sure to be back at Les Voiles again next year!

Chic classics!

For this final day of competition, the gulf served up some stunning racing on calm to rough seas, blown by a moderate to strong W'ly wind. Their starts under spinnaker, on port tack for all the classes, were just sublime, leading to a series of decisive jousting at the head of each of the groups. Between the Mistral at the start of the week and Thursday's Challenge Day, the Classics completed two races, each of them contested in very different contexts: moderate wind yesterday and a building Mistral today. As such the sailors had to really push their steeds in very different ways on an extremely changeable race zone, forcing them to put in a number of high-pressure manoeuvres and sail changes. With spinnakers aloft downwind, genoas on a reach, then a beat towards the far end of the gulf and Le Portalet under jib and genoa, the spectacle out on the water and along the piers was really something special today. There were many momentous occasions, including the three 12mRs Il Moro di Venezia, France and Ikra embroiled in the most spectacular of speed runs. France just got the better of Ikra, albeit it by just a few seconds, but she didn't have quite enough of a lead to finish ahead of Eugenia V (Rhodes 1968) in corrected time. This scenario was echoed in the Epoque Aurique Group which Spartan, the speedy Herreshoff designed New York 50, dominated play on the line, but her handicap let her down against Torben Grael's formidable Scud (Herreshoff 1903).

Shenandoah of Sark, the impressive three-masted schooner (Ferris 1902), was the big threat in the group vying for the Rolex Trophy. Beaten in race 1 by the amazing Paine design Viveka, she came right back into the game in the breeze, securing victory in today's race and with it the prestigious Rolex Trophy.

8 other Trophies were awarded this evening to the champions in the 8 remaining groups of Classics: Torpez Trophy (Classic Marconi A), Eugenia V (Rhodes 1968), Turquoise Trophy (Classic Marconi B), Espar II (Sangermani 1968). Mercantour Trophy (Epoque Aurique A), Scud (Herreshoff 1903) Byblos Trophy (Epoque Aurique B), Lulu (Rabot 1897), Marshall Trophy (Epoque Marconi A) Skylark 1937 (Olin Stephens 1937), SNSM Trophy (Epoque Marconi B) Bona (Baglietto 1934), Besserat de Bellefon Trophy (Grand Tradition) Sumurun (Fife 1914) and the Pierre Basset Trophy, won by Jap (Fife 1897) for the best yacht in the 'Guests' group.

Modern yachts, enjoy slipping along

Today was punctuated by perfect conditions for the 132 Modern yachts at Les Voiles who were able to slip along at pace. Treated to a lovely smooth race zone at the start, with a breeze right in line with the exit from the gulf, the sailors and tacticians were inspired to hoist all their sail aloft as they made for Cavalaire. As forecast, the Mistral got into her stride over the course of the day and the finish was decided in a lovely 25 knots of breeze, gusting to 30, with a powerful chop.

The BMW Trophy crowns an undisputed and very familiar champion in IRC C, the Prince of Denmark's TP52 Nanoq. Hong Kong Yacht Club member, Karl Kwok (Beau Geste), who had a thundering start to the week, lost some of his vigour on Friday, but secures a much deserved second place tonight, way ahead of another TP52, Peter Harrison's Jolt 3.

The North Sails Trophy for IRC B, also witnessed some epic battles all week long. Laurent Courbin (First 53 Yaziga) came out victorious in the end, ahead of Linda Goddard (Swan 53 Bedouin) and the Solaris 50 Nergy (Jean François Guillon).

Peter Dubens (North Star II Cape 31) was awarded the Suzuki Trophy for his IRC D win, after a hellish tussle with Marc Pajot (Cape 31 Dopamine). Jolt 4, the third Cape 31 (Tilly Harrison) completes the podium. The Marine de Cogolin Trophy for IRC E and the Bernard Optique Trophy for IRC F were respectively awarded to Pascal Fran's King Of Blue, and Bernard Giroux's Tofinou 9.5 Pippa.

Prize-giving

Hosted in the warm atmosphere of the Race Village at Les Voiles, the prize-giving for this 24th Voiles de Saint-Tropez was presided over by Pierre Roinson in the presence of Sylvie Siri, Mayor of Saint Tropez, Eric Colombin, CEO of Rolex France, and Patrice de Colmont, initiator of the Nioulargue. Tomorrow, Sunday, we shall bid a fond farewell to the Classic yachts and the smaller Modern yachts and welcome other more futuristic 'speed demons' in the form of the Maxi Yachts measuring in excess of 60 feet. 50 of these craft are expected to keep us entertained for this second week of Les Voiles.

Impressions:

Georges Korhel, Principal Race Officer
"It's been a wonderful week at Les Voiles. Of course, we regret the lack of races for the Classic yachts at the start of the week due to the Mistral. We're adapting though. Today, for example, we got everyone up a little earlier to avoid the worst of the breeze this afternoon. Today's starts were absolutely fantastic. We opted for courses along the coast throughout the week to avoid the heavy seas. Challenge Day was a big hit once again, with a wonderful Club 55 Cup, which had a special course to avoid the bad sea state at Nioulargue. After 24 years we're continuing to find ways to sail well. The schedule for the Maxis in the second week means we can have shorter course nicely adapted to the fleet. The geopositioned marks have worked well, which is a real plus for us and the environment."

Serge Guilhaumou, captain of Shenandoah from 1993 to 2002, crew in today's race
"We set sail in good downwind conditions in a shifty breeze. From La Sèche mark, the wind from land began to pick up so we had to dump the topsails and headsails. It was wonderful, flat out! We sailed the whole thing on one tack, with some big gusts, and we had to do a big ease so as not to break anything. We were making over 12 knots. Naema had to put in a counter-tack just before the finish line and we made the most of that to scream past them and take the win. There were 21 of us aboard, but she can accommodate up to 30. The boat was completely revamped in New Zealand for two years in 1996. We've also completed two round the worlds since her refit."

Event website: www.lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr

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