Some of the most attractive boats from the classic yachting circuit gathered again on the waters of Saint Tropez to fight for the 8th edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy, the only sailing trophy reserved to 100 years or older boats.
A record edition for many different reasons: the highest number of entrants, the tough conditions, and the first boat to conquer the Trophy for the second time in a row in the history of the regatta.
Sunny, blue skies, but rough conditions for such old beauties – 20-25 knots and a swell of more than three metres. Only nine brave crews out of 22 succeeded in finishing the 9-mile long coastal race.
And if last year it was a question of a handful of seconds, this year German-flagged Tilly XV crossed the line with an advantage of several minutes, conquering her second victory in a row.
Silver went to a newcomer to the event, the gaff cutter Kismet, celebrating her 120th anniversary in style, whilst 7 Metre I.R. Mignon, from 1912, got to the third step of the podium.
“It's always great to compete in the Centenary Trophy. This year the tough conditions put to a test both the boat and the crew. The beautiful images of this windy but clear day will always be with us,” declared Corentin Thiercelin from team Mignon.
Racing started in moderate winds that progressively increased to exceed 25 knots at the mark positioned outside the bay, creating a considerable sea-state.
Showing incredible speed for her small size, and a very strong performance from her skilled crew, including skipper Juerg Moessnang and owner Siegfried Rittler, Tilly XV earned an unbeatable margin on the reaching leg and held it to the finish line just off the old harbor.
The Centenary Trophy, raced in a pursuit format with staggered starts, featured an especially created and constantly refined handicap system, allowing very different boats to compete on equal terms. The first boat to cross the line off the Saint Tropez breakwater was declared the winner.
“It was a great day for us. Big waves, a lot of wind, it was very hard to sail,” Siegfried Rittler said. “I’m a mountaineer, climbed the Himalayan peaks many times, and today sailing was a bit like climbing a 2000 metre high mountain… But the most important thing is that I did it with my best sailing mates, our team is like a family.
“I hope we will be back in Saint Tropez in 2019. Thank you all for the great experience,” ended Rittler, who has owned and cared for Tilly XV for over 28 years.
Tilly XV was built in 1912 in Germany for Prince Heinrich Von Preussen, the brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II. She is the 15th of a series of boats that carry the same name. She is a Sonderklass racer, with a particularly contemporary design and won Kiel Week the same year she was launched.
The prize-giving night, with more than 150 guests, was held on the Saint Tropez waterfront.
Besides the silver Centenary Trophy, winners were awarded with an exclusive five-day stay at one of Soneva Resorts in the Maldives or Thailand and a copy of the limited edition print photo by Jurg Kaufmann.
The Centenary Award Silver Bowl for the boat deemed the Centenarian of the Year 2018, awarded to Folly, was handed over to her former owner Argentinean naval architect German Frers.
“Congratulations to all the crews. Conditions were not the easiest for centenarians, but both sailors and boats showed incredible ability and strength,” Peter Erzberger, Commodore of Gstaad Yacht Club said.
“I hope to see all of you and maybe even more boats, compete again next year in the fantastic race for the Centenary Trophy and I thank President Tony Oller for the co-operation between his club and the SNST.”