Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez: Sheer madness…

  • A whole day of fun and fiery Challenges of all kinds
  • To France (12mR) the Club 55 Cup!
  • Kismet triumphs among the Centenarians

Thursday at Les Voiles has the spirit of the Nioulargue and the breeze at its centre, wrapped up in the sheer madness of sailors on a quest for fun and friendly nautical challenges, all of them imbued with the sense of fair play so cherished by the teams at the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez. Owners, captains and crews challenge one over a drink, with the winner treated to a meal or the simple pleasure of a great day at sea. Competing in the Club 55 Cup, the Centenary Trophy and a good dozen or so challenges between 2, 3, 4 and even 6 boats, the boats had all their sails set to take on the gulf today. This evening’s ever popular crew procession through the town’s streets gave the sailors yet another reason to set the small port in France’s Var region alight and rounded off a wondrous day in style.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

Crazy and sometimes unlikely Challenges
From 13:00 hours, Le Portalet bore witness to a steady stream of protagonists competing for the Club 55 Cup, the Centenary Trophy and a dozen or so battles with two, three or even six boats, with some evenly matched challenges like the one that grouped together the magnificent Bermudan yawls Skylark (Stephens 1937), Manitou (Stephens 1937) and Blitzen (Sparkman&Stephens 1938), that of the large craft pitting Cambria (Fife 1929) against Halloween (Fife 1926) and Mariella (Mylne 1938) or the more unlikely battles involving the gunter rig Alcyon (Scotto/Vaton 2013) and the 10mR sloop Marge (Anker 1936). The Modern sailboats also joined in this exotic mix of groups when the Grand Soleil 50 MadIV, one of the stars of IRC B (North Sails Trophy), challenged Bernina X, the brilliant X41 in IRC D (Suzuki Trophy).

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

To France the Club 55 Cup
The course was modified for the 2022 edition of the Club 55 Cup in an elegant nod to the origins of Les Voiles. Indeed, the meaty swell sweeping the coast off La Nioulargue prompted today’s protagonists to revise the course, creating a looped circuit of around 14 miles, setting sail from and finishing off the jetty in Saint Tropez, via the Club 55 mark at Pampelonne and the far end of the gulf. France, the Mauric design 12mR (1970), helmed by the President of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez himself, the honourable Pierre Roinson, was pitted against the sublime Tuiga (Fife 1909), flagship of the Yacht Club de Monaco. Victory ultimately went to the President of the SNST, after “an absolutely splendid race in the wind and sunshine” according to the champion.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

To Kismet the Centenary Trophy
21 centenarian yachts contested today’s Centenary Trophy offered by the Yacht Club de Gstaad. A mixture of rigs, sizes and styles, this original event at Les Voiles saw the smallest sailboat of the fleet, Dainty (Wesmacott 1922) with a waterline of 8.20 m, vie with the giant Shenandoah of Sark (Ferris 1902) measuring 55 m, and a whole series of boats created at the start of the 20th century, each more legendary than the next. Enjoying a pursuit race format, with the boats crossing the start line according to their rating and the first to cross the finish line being declared the winner, the Centenary Trophy enables competitors to race on an equal footing. As such, after 3 delicious hours of racing, Sir Richard Matthews’ gaff cutter Kismet (Fife 1896) scored a brilliant victory, just ahead of the two Herreshoff designs, Scud (1903) helmed by Torben Grael, and Oriole, the 1905 gaff sloop.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

Impressions:
Sir Richard Matthews, Kismet, winner of the Centenary Trophy
“We’re delighted! A great course, a fantastic race, and on the way back we held off Scud who was going great guns. The decision to hoist the gennaker was crucial. It was a new sail for us, and we managed to make full use of it in today’s conditions to open up a decisive lead. The crew was fantastic. The boat has no winches so she’s very physical. We recently restored her from top to bottom. I’ve been sailing with this team for nearly 15 years. Our British tactician Andy Green was outstanding. We’ll be back to defend our title with pleasure next year.”

Torben Grael (Scud)
“This must be my 8th participation in Les Voiles, and my third Centenary Trophy, once on Linnet, and once on Scud. We’re very happy to be able to compete again after the Covid years. We have a great team who push the boat hard, which is nice, but we have to be careful with her as she’s 120 years old. I learned to sail on an old boat, my grandfather’s 6 m, which is still in the family. I know how to position this type of fairly heavy boat on the racetrack. I love sailing here. I love the Classics and it’s fascinating to watch all the different types. You learn something new every day. I’d love to win the Centenary Trophy.”

Programme 2022
Week 1: Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez: Modern and Classic
Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October: racing for the modern and classic yachts
Saturday 1 October: Prize-giving (week 1)

Week 2: Les Voiles Maxi Yachts and Multihulls
Sunday 3 and Monday 4 October: registration for the large modern yachts (Wally, Mini Maxi, Maxi, Super Maxi) and Performance Cruising Multihulls (in excess of 60-feet)
Tuesday 4, Wednesday 5, Friday 7, Saturday 8: racing
Thursday 6: lay day
Saturday 8 October: Prize-giving (week 2)

Photo Credit:
SNST/Gilles Martin-Raget

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