Please select your home edition
Edition
Top of the Gulf Regatta 2017 728x90

Les Voiles de St. Barth - 60 yachts and crew prepare for the start

by Fabrice Thomazeau on 9 Apr 2013
Les Voiles de St. Barth 2013 - Race Fleet dockside in Gustavia Harbour © Tim Wright / Les Voiles de St Barth http://www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com/
Les Voiles de St. Barth gets underway tomorrow and with winter weather persisting in northern parts of the U.S. and Europe, sailors could be envied for heading to the Caribbean to extend their racing calendars. As it is, over 60 yachts and crew are currently on the island of St Barths, in the French West Indies. The fourth edition of this regatta will offer up four days of racing on a mix of courses and a social schedule equally as demanding, with dockside entertainment each evening and a lay day (Thursday) full of activities at Nikki Beach on St. Jean Bay.

As it has for its prior three editions, Les Voiles de St. Barth again has drawn a competitive mix of international yachts and crews from the UK, USA, France, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium, and South Africa, as well as a strong Caribbean contingent from Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua, and Trinidad.

The inaugural event in 2010 drew 27 boats, and since then, entries have steadily grown as the media and sailing’s coconut telegraph helped spread the word. Event Director François Paul Tolède was enthusiastic as yachts tied up stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle in Gustavia.

'The atmosphere is great on shore and the weather looks perfect,' he said. 'With 62 boats entered so far (registration closes at 5 p.m. today) and considering the current economic climate, the turnout shows what great regard the yacht owners have for the Voiles de Saint Barth.'

Tolède continued: 'Luc Poupon (Course Director) has come up with some new courses, slightly longer in some cases, as many of the sailors wanted to spend more time on the water, and so racing will start a little earlier. We expect anywhere between 15 to 20+ knots of wind this week -- ideal conditions for the fleet, which ranges from 24 feet (Melges) to 100 feet (the Swan 100 Varsovie).'

The fleet is divided into eight classes: Maxis; Spinnaker 1, 2, and 3; Melges 24; Non-Spinnaker; Classics; and Multi-hulls. Organizers can chose between 28 course variations, from 11 to 40 nautical miles. Racing begins tomorrow, Tuesday April 9, with the first signal at 1100.


Jim Swartz, owner/skipper of the TP52 Vesper, is the anointed 'godfather' of this year’s regatta. An enthusiastic competitor, he has participated in all four editions.

For Swartz it is a do-not-miss event. 'The conditions are fabulous,' he said. 'Sailing around this island is beautiful -- the winds are always predictable, they are always a lot of fun, particularly when we get a good breeze on the back (windward) side of the island.'

Sailing onboard Vesper will be former America’s Cup sailors Gavin Brady (tactician), Rob Salthouse (jib trim), Kazuhiko Sofuku (mid bow), and Jamie Gale (navigator), past Volvo Ocean Race crew.

After Vesper competed in the TP52 Worlds in Miami last month, the boat was shipped to St. Thomas to get it race ready and then delivered to St. Barths this week.

'Les Voiles is always on our calendar,' Swartz said, 'It’s the atmosphere -- the racing is great, the people are great, as is the organization. It all runs very well. And the dining and shopping (for the ladies)…all that St. Barths is about, we enjoy the same thing!'


Over half the boats and skippers are return competitors. Notable new editions this year include Jens Kellinghusen’s Ker 51 Varuna, which has raced in the year since its launch at Kiel Week and Les Voiles de St. Tropez; the Volvo 60 Cuba Libre (ex-Heineken) in Non-Spinnaker (while the V60 Ambersail will be in Spinnaker 1); Phil Lotz’ Swan 42 Arethusa, which is fresh off winning the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean; Jolt 2, a Baltic 45 that has already stretched its legs on the recent RORC Caribbean 600; in the Classic class, Heroina, a 74’ cold molded Frers design build in the ‘90s; and the 51’ Aage Nielsen-designed ketch Saphaedra, a seasoned ocean racer.

At this morning’s media briefing at Hotel Carl Gustaf on the hill overlooking the harbor of Gustavia, Nils Dufau, Vice President of the Collectivity of St. Barth’s and president for the Tourism Committee, said, 'Les Voiles de St. Barth has become a formidable communication tool for our island as an up-market destination. This event conveys to all the 'state of mind' of an island that has built up over time and which today has become a haven of peace and stability -- the very basis of its reputation.'

In a further nod to this relatively new event, the Caribbean Sailing Association named Les Voiles de St. Barth and the BVI Spring Regatta 'Best Events of 2012.'

This evening is the Skipper’s Briefing after which event organizers will kick off the week with the Opening Ceremony and party in the Race Village on the Quai General de Les Voiles de St Barth

Ancasta Ker 40+ 660x82Barz Optics - FloatersZhik Isotak Ocean 660x82

Related Articles

Meet Clipper 2017-18 Race skipper Wendy Tuck
For Wendy ‘Wendo’ Tuck, one race around the world was never going to be enough. For Wendy ‘Wendo’ Tuck, one race around the world was never going to be enough. And as a result, she’s set to make history in the Clipper 2017-18 Race as the first Australian skipper to complete the arduous ocean challenge twice.
Posted today at 6:04 am
Round the Rocks kick's off St. Thomas International Regatta
Nearly 60 sleek sailing yachts from Caribbean, U.S., Canada and Europe will race in St. Thomas International Regatta. Nearly 60 sleek sailing yachts from the Caribbean, U.S., Canada and Europe will race in the 44th St. Thomas International Regatta. Set for March 24 to 26, this three-day regatta known as the ‘Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing’ will be prefaced by the second Round the Rocks Race on March 23, which features a circumnavigation of the 19-square-mile neighbouring U.S. Virgin Island of St. John.
Posted on 23 Mar
Vendée Globe – A hugely popular event and media success
With 29 skippers setting sail and 10 nations represented, the eighth edition offered a wide range of projects The results show huge increases everywhere: many more people attending the event, unprecedented media coverage and feedback, a record level of international coverage without talking about the very positive race outcome in terms of the rankings.
Posted on 23 Mar
RC44 Championship Tour heads to Lanzarote for final regatta
For 2017 the fleet will return to Europe's southern shores with racing hosted from the new facility, Marina Lanzarote The Calero Marinas have been a regular winter destination for the RC44 fleet over the years having hosted four regattas and three World Championships between 2010 and 2013.
Posted on 23 Mar
Less than a month to go to 8th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth
To date, 66 teams have signed up for the event, which bodes well for an exceptional vintage Péan will be casting an expert eye over the event that occurs 10-15 April. A seasoned and talented sailor, he boasts one of the most prestigious track records in French sailing, with victories logged in the Solitaire du Figaro in 1983, then the Whitbread (a crewed around-the-world race with stopovers) in 1986.
Posted on 22 Mar
Transat Jaques Vabre – Oman Sail takes on Class 40 challenge
The new campaign is the latest stage of the relationship between Al Hasni, one of Oman's most promising sailors Oman Sail has revealed a new adventure for 2017 as the pioneering national initiative takes on a double-handed Class 40 challenge pairing up mentor and long-term skipper of various Oman Sail projects, Frenchman Sidney Gavignet, with his protégé and Oman Sail’s most successful offshore sailor, Fahad Al Hasni.
Posted on 22 Mar
RORC Easter Challenge – Free expert coaching
A coach can optimise practice time, provide detailed analysis via both stats and video, can examine specific issues If you want to do better out on the race course, you could buy yourself a newer, more competitive boat. Or sail with a better crew. Or could buy some new sails. Or put in some practice. But keelboat crews frequently forget that one of the best value methods is to employ a coach.
Posted on 22 Mar
The long, short and wide set a record for AHIRW 2017
A small yacht measuring less than eight metres overall has established an impressive record on the entry list for AHIRW. A small yacht measuring less than eight metres overall has established an impressive record on the entry list for Australia’s largest offshore tropical regatta, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
Posted on 22 Mar
Andrea Francolini takes us into the sewer
Andrea Francolini provided this gallery of images of Beau Geste TP52 training With many thanks to the magnificent Andrea Francolini and also Team Beau Geste on their TP52, we have this splendid on board gallery from training ahead of the 2017 Australian Yachting Championship. The AUS Sailing event is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia will take place from Thursday 23 - Sunday 26 March 2017.
Posted on 21 Mar
Vestas 11th Hour Racing launch Volvo Ocean Race campaign
Vestas are returning for a second edition, after launching their 2017-18 campaign in partnership with 11th Hour Racing Vestas 11th Hour Racing will be led by the American duo of Charlie Enright and Mark Towill. The team are the fourth to announce for the upcoming edition, which begins on 22 October, and they will use the race to promote a sustainability message around the world.
Posted on 21 Mar