Please select your home edition
Edition
Mondo Travel - Americas Cup - 5785

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez a fine a display of traditional values

by KPMS on 3 Oct 2012
HISPANIA in the sunshine - Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez © Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi http://www.carloborlenghi.net
The Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is as fine a display of traditional values as one could desire. The classic yachts present are reminiscent of a museum piece; the row of varnished spars and white hulls moored to the harbour wall providing a glimpse into yesteryear. It is the human element that marks this display apart, that prevents it being as wooden as the masts. At Les Voiles it brings the tradition to life; particularly today as racing commenced for the older portion of the fleet, including those competing for the Rolex Trophy.

The Tradition division took to the Bay of Saint-Tropez spurred on by a breeze that promised much at midday when the first signal sounded, but proved more troublesome: building, dying and shifting throughout the time it took the competitors to complete the 12 nautical mile course around the Bay under a clear blue sky.

Within the yachts vying for Rolex Trophy there are a myriad of stories. The four15 Metre Rule yachts provide the perfect example of the importance of tradition within the assembled fleet. Built to the International Rule at the beginning of the twentieth century, 'Metre' does not refer to the length, but to rating; Mariska (launched1908), Hispania (1909), Tuiga (1909), and Lady Anne (1912) actually measure almost 30 metres (98 ft) in overall length.


Andy Longarela is the skipper of Hispania, originally built for King Alfonso XIII of Spain. Hispania was one of some twenty 15 Metre yachts launched between 1907 and 1917, and the third of eight designed by William Fife III. According to Longarela: 'She is the most noble boat I’ve ever sailed. She provides very deep sensations, completely different to the feelings on a modern boat. I have never forgotten my first impressions. You learn every day, discovering the possibilities of the boat.'

The details of Hispania’s chain of ownership appear lost to the confusion of European conflict in the mid-1900s. By a stroke of good fortune she was discovered in the early 1990s in the mud off the south coast of England by some resolute Spaniards intent on saving a piece of their yachting heritage. After a joint restoration by Fairlie in the UK and Asterilleros del Mallorca in Palma, Hispania was relaunched March 2011 by current owner Fundación Isla Ebusitana.


Finding crew willing to sail a beautiful yacht is easy. Finding crew that grasp the intricacies and, at the same time, value the heritage is harder: 'It is important that people understand the boat and its traditions. You must learn how she works, and appreciate her age. You need to respect her.'

Respecting tradition is costly in financial terms and time. The materials in evidence do not benefit from advancements in ensuring longevity and ease of maintenance: 'It is a lot of work - we have two people working 8–12 hours every day. On a modern boat a halyard may last around two years, on this boat it lasts three to four months because of stretch and wear.'

Original materials demand time-honoured techniques and practices: 'We are organised like a traditional boat. We have a captain, and then we have the contramaestre (boatswain or mate) who knows everything about the boat. He controls the manoeuvres. The crew is organised into distinct teams – staysail, jib, jib-top and mainsail, for example. They work separately, and together as one. When everything works fine it is like a ballet.'


And here is where understanding of and respect for tradition becomes critical: 'So much is by hand. You need to take time with manoeuvres and you need to be very careful. If not you can easily break the topmast or the boom. The upwind sail plan is almost 500m2, which is huge; to pull the mainsail into the middle you need seven people on the sheet.'

Pragmatism means that not all practices have remained traditional: 'To hoist the mainsail we learnt to use the winch on the bow. The gaff weighs about 400 kilos. If we do it all by hand, the whole crew is dead. Although for the topsail jack-yard we still put twelve people on the mast.'

Longarela is confident that their effort to keep alive this heritage is worth it: 'Spain is very proud of this boat. She is very important to the Spanish sailing community.'

Hispania finished second today, behind Mariska, in the 15 Metre class – a sound enough start in her bid to claim the Rolex Trophy.


55 yachts are registered within the Tradition division for the Rolex Trophy, awarded to the best performing yacht over 16 metres in length on Societe Nautique Saint Tropez website

BandG AUS Triton2 660x82Safety at Sea - Baltic - 1Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best Eyewear

Related Articles

Vendée Globe – Costa to cross Thursday morning for 14th
Progress has remained painfully slow for Kiwi skipper Conrad Colman today as he sails into a wide high pressure ridge Progress has remained painfully slow for Kiwi skipper Conrad Colman today as he sails into a wide high pressure ridge which stands between him and the favourable westerly breezes which should finally allow the jury rigged Foresight Natural Energy to sail more directly towards the French coast and the finish line
Posted today at 5:22 pm
Sanya awarded Youth Sailing World Championships
World Sailing, the world governing body of the sport is pleased to announce that Sanya, China will host the 2017 edition The 2017 selection process opened in November 2016 after the Israeli Sailing Association exercised the right to withdraw from hosting the 2017 edition as a final contract had not been concluded.
Posted today at 4:05 pm
RORC Caribbean 600 – Day 3 – Phaedo3 takes multihull line honours
While the multihull race record was not broken this year Phaedo3 and Maserati had an incredible 600 mile high-speed duel Phaedo3 held on to win the battle of the trimarans, just 12 minutes ahead of Giovanni Soldini's Italian MOD70, Maserati. The high-speed battle saw the lead change hands at least four times during the race.
Posted today at 3:18 pm
Volvo Ocean Race – Pablo Arrarte joins MAPFRE as watch captain
With just 242 days to go until the start of the 2017-18 edition on October 22, preparations are already well underway. Arrarte, who raced onboard Brunel in 2014-15, will also assume the role of deputy to Olympic gold medallist Xabi Fernández, who was named as skipper on Friday.
Posted today at 1:39 pm
Maserati Multi70 finishes a close second in RORC Caribbean 600
Soldini and his seven-man crew brought Maserati Multi70 across the finish line off Charlotte Point in Antigua. Soldini and his seven-man international crew brought Maserati Multi70 across the finish line off Charlotte Point in Antigua.
Posted today at 1:09 pm
Red Bull Sailing Team returns to the Extreme Sailing Series
The team will have eight Acts to out-sail the world's best in what looks to be the most competitive season yet. The team will have eight Acts to out-sail the world's best in what looks to be the most competitive season yet.
Posted today at 12:29 pm
New Zealand's influence at JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship
Can the Yamaha 18ft Skiff team become the first NZers to win the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour? Can the Yamaha 18ft Skiff team of David McDiarmid, Matt Steven and Brad Collins become the first New Zealand team in the 79-year history to win the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour? The team came within one point of the 2016 winner, Smeg, and are determined to go that one better this year.
Posted today at 9:18 am
RORC Caribbean 600 - Maserati Multi70 in a fight for lead with Phaedo3
After 24-hours of racing in RORC Caribbean 600 Race Maserati Multi70 trimaran is locked in a fierce struggle for lead After 24-hours of racing in the RORC Caribbean 600 Race the Maserati Multi70 trimaran skippered by Italian ocean racer Giovanni Soldini is locked in a fierce struggle for the lead with the race record holder Phaedo3.
Posted today at 5:09 am
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2017 - NOR posted – entries surging in
Entries for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, are surging in on back of Notice of Race being posted on regatta website. Entries for the 34th edition of Australia’s premier offshore regatta, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, are surging in on the back of the Notice of Race being posted on the regatta website.
Posted today at 4:31 am
3rd line honours in a row for Phaedo^3 in the RORC Caribbean 600
After an epic battle with their MOD70 sistership Maserati, Phaedo^3 took multihull line honours in RORC Caribbean 600. After an epic battle with their MOD70 sistership Maserati, Phaedo^3 took multihull line honours in the RORC Caribbean 600.
Posted today at 4:04 am