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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2023 Day 2

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 2 Oct 2023 23:50 BST 1-8 October 2023

With the smaller modern fleet racing in the Golfe de Saint-Tropez the 39-strong maxi fleet moved to the bay off the Cote d'Azur's famous Pampelonne beach for the start and finish of the coastal race for day two of the Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, the deciding event of the International Maxi Association's Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge.

The course took the maxis south to a mark two bays down off Cap Lardier then returning via a mark in the bay off L'Escalet. The smaller boats then headed directly back to the finish while Maxi A had to round one last mark out to sea to the east, the famous Nioulargue mark (after the original incarnation of this event), before finishing. The southerly breeze built from around 7 knots at the start to 12-14 knots as the sea breeze filled in shifting the wind right.

While there was no wind initially, racing finally got away almost two hours late, just before 1400 local time for the four classes (following a jury decision, Maxi A1 and A2 are now combined into Maxi A spanning 100 footers to the former Maxi 72s).

With stronger and more stable breeze there were no runaway leaders today and in fact Peter Harrison's 72ft Cannonball, which was first home on the water by a huge margin yesterday (ahead of even the 100 footers), today finished a lowly sixth under IRC corrected time. Instead it was the turn of Peter Dubens' 72ft North Star, the reigning IMA Maxi European Champion, to come out on top in Maxi A.

"I am really pleased with the result," said North Star's tactician, 470 double Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers. "We had a really good start at the starboard end and tacked off early. On that first leg the right was favoured so it meant we spent a long time on port tack without getting rolled by the bigger boats. That was the key moment. Later we got tacked on a couple of times but that kept us in clear traffic for 90% of the race."

Owner Peter Dubens was over the moon about the result which came after a tough day yesterday for the British team when the wind had shut down for them just short of the finish line off Saint-Tropez.

While Sir Peter Ogden's 77ft Jethou finished third today, a worthy second was Andrea Recordati's 93ft Bullitt, finishing 2 minutes 26 seconds behind North Star under IRC corrected time. "We had a very good day today," reported Bullitt's Brazilian tactician Joca Signorini. "We had a good start to leeward of the 100s and managed to find a good lane going to the right above them. It was very close racing once the breeze dropped half way through the beat. The guys did a wonderful job keeping the boat going fast and after rounding the first mark there were not many passing opportunities." After two races, Bullitt leads Maxi A overall.

The 100s followed with V fourth and Galateia, skippered by co-owner Chris Flowers, fifth.

In Maxi B, it was the familiar form of regular Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez winner Terry Hui's 77ft Lyra that for a second day came out on top. Second to her were the chartered Maarten 72 Aragon and the 80ft Rose of Sven Wackerhagen. Also holding a perfect scoreline is International Maxi Association President Benoît de Froidmont's Wally 60 Wallyño in Maxi C, while holding the remaining positions on the podium after day two are the Mylius 60s Maurits van Oranje's Sud and Jean-Pierre Dreau's Lady First 3.

While Lady First 3 and her crew including French offshore A-listers like Christopher Pratt and Xavier Macaire, beat her Dutch opponent yesterday, they prevailed today leaving the two tied on points. "We had a problem with our spinnaker," explained Dreau of today's third place. "We don't know why but it broke and it took us maybe five minutes to change, so we lost a few boats." However his white-hulled Mylius 60 is enjoying the race with her black-hulled sistership Sud, which are showing a marked improvement in their performance this week.

The closest results today were in Maxi D where Jürg Schneider's Swan 65 ketch Saida, last year's winner here, once again found her form scoring her first bullet of the regatta. However a second for Matteo Fossati's Stella Maris today leaves the Italian 64 footer leading Maxi D after two races.

"It was a great day," said Schneider. "We had a good start but after the start we had a problem with one of the winches. But then we found our way out of that and on the first downwind we were first to hoist our gennaker quite early which put us in a good position." Saida finished their race in no more than 14 knots of breeze so their victory was not a case of being one of the lowest rated and enjoying better breeze towards the finish. The Maxi D finishes were also the closest across the fleet today with Saida finishing just 26 seconds ahead of Stella Maris under IRC corrected time.

All eyes are on day three's competition. While Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is typically a light regatta, tomorrow the forecast for the Bay of Pampelonne is for a southwest wind of 15-20 knots with the wind into the mid to high 20s the further offshore the maxi yachts are sent. This could easily throw up a different set of results after two days favouring the light wind specialists.

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