Thousands of square metres of sails were lowered in a din on Saturday evening local time after a truly amazing finale to part one of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2022.
Particularly boisterous conditions that greeted today’s fleets prompted the Race Committee and the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez’s teams to turn the program on its head from the crack of dawn to make the most of the 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 that slugged it out on the water, have absolutely no regrets. Indeed, their heads are filled with memories and their batteries fully recharged out on the racecourse.
For this final day of competition, the gulf served up some stunning racing on calm to rough seas, blown by a moderate to strong westerly wind. Starts under spinnaker, on port tack for all the classes, were sublime, leading to a series of 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 conditions. Moderate wind yesterday and a building Mistral today. As such, 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 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 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 trophy.
Trophies were awarded to the champions in the eight 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).
Finally, the Pierre Basset Trophy was won by Jap (Fife 1897) for being the best yacht in the ‘Guests’ group.
Today provided perfect conditions for the 132 Modern yachts which were able to slip along at pace.
Treated to a smooth race zone at the start, with a breeze right in line with the exit from the gulf, competitors were inspired to hoist all sails 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 25-knot breeze, gusting to 30 with a powerful chop.
The BMW Trophy crowns a 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 secured a much deserved second place, way ahead of another TP52, Peter Harrison’s Jolt 3.
There were some epic battles all week long in IRC B for the North Sails Trophy. Laurent Courbin (First 53 Yaziga) claimed the spoils 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 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.
Tomorrow, we bid farewell to the Classic yachts and the smaller Modern yachts and welcome 50 more futuristic ‘speed demons’ in the form of the Maxi Yachts measuring in excess of 60 feet.