What a cracking fortnight as the racing fleet contesting the Maxi event at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez simply lit up the gulf in France’s Var region against the stunning backdrop of Saint Tropez.
Storms and rain radically transformed the atmosphere and light in the gulf today as the 46 maxis set sail on a short coastal course in a light north/north-easterly, which proved to be particularly fickly in terms of both strength and direction.
Despite a start and the best efforts to set a course on the part of the Race Committee, ultimately it was the storm that triumphed, sucking up every last breath of air in the gulf, prompting the cancellation of this last day of racing.
And so it was that the trophies for the four groups of maxis competing in this second and final week of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, were decided. The four divisions had sailed three races in previous days, making it possible to crown the winners
Spirit of Malouen X, Cannonball, Lyra and Saïda crowned
Stéphane Névé’s Spirit of Malouen X, with a crew from the world of TP52 racing, narrowly missed out on the hat-trick in Maxi 1, after securing two race victories.
In the Maxi 2 category, Cannonball not only reigned supreme over the rest of the group, but also got the better of the two other formidable Maxi 72s, Jethou and North Star. She was also able to dismiss the threat from Magic Carpet 3, the incredibly successful Wallycento.
Lyra just snatched the win in Maxi 3 against one of the most outstanding yachts this season, the 80-foot Reichel/Pugh design Capricorno.
Meanwhile, the ketch Saïda, belonging to Jürg Schneider from Switzerland, excelled in Maxi 4, just ahead of the two previous America’s Cup protagonists, the 12 Metre designs, Kiwi Magic KZ7 and French Kiss.
The futuristic foiler, Flying Nikka, was signed up for Les Voiles in line with the wishes of the IMA. Her size, profile and above all, her huge articulated foils, caused quite a stir in Saint Tropez.
Designed by a team led by Irish designer Mark Mills, the 19 metre Flying Nikka with her cutting-edge foils, was able to power across the gulf this week, posting speeds in excess of 40 knots at times.
She was built in Valencia at the King Marine yard, which boasts all the latest composite technologies. “Roberto Lacorte was keen to have a thoroughbred race boat, built for speed,” explained Alezio Razeto, Team Manager of Flying Nikka.
“We’d witnessed the development of foils on the Imoca Class sailboats and the America’s Cup yachts, so we said to ourselves, ‘Why don’t we have articulated foils on a race boat in the Mediterranean?’
“It’s Roberto Lacorte, the owner, who helms the boat. The crew largely has an America’s Cup background. Helming a foiler isn’t the most difficult aspect. The real difficulty lies in trimming the sails and the foils.
“There are a huge number of elements that need configuring to get her up on a plane, airborne and nicely balanced, especially given that the pressure in the sails is never constant. Adjusting the foils is the most complicated element, particularly when you’re flying along at over 30 knots!”
Georges Korhel, Principal Race Officer, said of the week: “We’ve pulled off the two-week gamble. We have an increasing number of big boats, which are increasingly large! Everyone has grasped the fact that it’s not possible to reconcile the massive Wallys and the small classic yachts in the same arena, so there’s no doubt about the two-week logic.
“Our courses in the second week are perfectly suited to the fast maxis. The Club 55 Cup proved to be a big hit too. We had a very complicated first week, with the Mistral picking up at the end of the day to add a bit of tension to the racing. We launched races in 15-16 knots of breeze, but the fleet returned to the port in the evening in gusts of over 25 knots.
“Everyone played the game and everything went smoothly. In week two, we had some very light conditions. We had to adapt the courses and be one step ahead with any course reductions.
“In the end though, we validated races every day and all the sailors are happy. We’ve also made progress with managing the results, removing the need for paper in the process. Everything’s computerised now and everyone has easy access to it thanks to dedicated applications.”
Benoit de Froidmont, President of the International Maxi Association, said: “The maxis have really felt at home in Saint Tropez. I’ve had some excellent feedback from the owners. They sailed well all week and the results are in keeping with those racked up over the past season, bar the odd exception.”
Final top three results:
Maxi 1 – North Sails Trophy; Spirit of Malouen X (Stéphane Névé.) 2nd: Pattoo. 3rd: Jasi – (Toby Clarke)
Maxi 2 – Galeries Bartoux Trophy: Cannonball (Dario Ferrari). 2nd North Stars (Peter Dubens). 3rd: Magic Carpet 3 (Lindsay Owen Jones)
Maxi 3 – Besserat de Bellefon Trophy: Lyra (Terry Hui). 2nd Capricorno (Alessandro Del Bono). 3rd: Les Amis (Valter Pizzoli)
Maxi 4 – Torpez Trophy: Saïda (Jürg Schneider). 2nd Kiwi Magic KZ7 (Johan Petersen). 3rd: French Kiss (Christophe Babule)
Winner IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge: Capricorno (Alessandro Del Bono)
Best IMA member: Lyra (Terry Hui)
Town of Saint-Tropez Cup – 1st Maxi Yacht: Cannonball (Dario Ferrari)
Club 55 Maxi Cup: Magic Carpet 3 – Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones
Challenges: Kiwi Magic KZ7 (Johan Petersen)
The Town of Saint-Tropez Trophy is awarded to the first Maxi Yacht of all the categories combined, namely Cannonball. It is an original sculpture designed by Arnaud Régalet from the company Octo and the sailing themed wooden creation measures 60 cm and weighs in at 2.5 kg.
All information: http://www.lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr