Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

Les Voiles de St. Barth - Preparing to rock Saint Barthélemy waters

by Fabrice Thomazeau on 12 Apr 2014
Elvis in action off St Maarten Ocean Images
Les Voiles de St. Barth, which in five short years has become one of the most beloved regattas on the Caribbean sailing circuit, is getting ready once again to rock the waters off the island of Saint Barthélemy. Scheduled for next week, April 14-19, the event has become progressively more seasoned while its participating teams have, in parallel fashion, become increasingly more impressive in terms of talent on board. Currently 70 strong and counting, the Les Voiles fleet of racing boats -ranging in size from 24 to 112 feet- will be divided into Maxi, IRC 52, Spinnaker, Melges 24, Non Spinnaker and Racing Multihull divisions.

No one knows yet how the Spinnaker division will be further divided into classes, but White Rhino, the Swan 56 chartered by Steve Cuchiarro (Boston, Mass.), is hoping to have a good run against Canadian Leo van den Thillart’s Kernan 47 True, with Jono Swain, of Volvo Ocean Race fame, at the helm.

'True will be very difficult to beat if we sail against them, and there is a good chance of that,' said White Rhino’s tactician Jack Slattery (Marblehead, Mass.), who in the years since twice being named a Collegiate All-American has worked his way into demand as an afterguard pick for various grand-prix racing programs. 'Also Otra Vez (William Coates, Houston, Texas), which just won Key West Race Week and was second at the Heineken Regatta, is a frontrunner, but you never know…both of those boats could be put with the (IRC) 52s since they are more similar to them than to us (sport boat vs. displacement). We are the longest boat in the division but not the quickest. But either way, we are ‘going for placing.'

Slattery is neither a newcomer to Les Voiles nor a neophyte when it comes to optimizing a charter boat for racing, as he finished second last year aboard the chartered Marten 49 Defiance (with Cuchiarro at the helm) and won the prior year aboard the same boat. 'White Rhino has been optimized for racing and has an up-to-date inventory,' said Slattery. 'Since the owner of Defiance wanted to put his own team together for this year, we started looking around for a reasonable boat to charter and White Rhino came up on the radar screen.'

Among the notable crew on White Rhino are Cucchiaro’s son Connor Cucchiaro, Slattery’s wife Dru Slattery, Mark Laura (main sheet), Stu Johnstone (strategist), Cam Lewis (mast) and Larry Rosenfeld (navigator).

Team True will rely on the talents of several sailors from the U.S., including Swain, a native South African, and Kevin Miller (tactician), Karl Funk (bow man), John Hayes, Patrick McMath, Nick Diephouse and Patrick Farrell, all of whom have lengthy, impressive resumes in racing sailing. And if more miles among them are needed to impress, another American crew member Rives Sutherland can throw in that he has sailed a 48-footer one-and-a-half laps around the world in 12 months, including a Rolex Sydney Hobart Race and a Newport Bermuda Race in the accomplishment.

'Team True has been slowly assembled by Leo and Jono, with consideration both for talent and personality,' said Funk, who is also the boat captain. 'With a move from our 1D35/Melges20 program, we have had to increase thesize of our crew. As this is our first event with this new-to-us boat, our expectations are in check. We will be leaning heavily on the experience of Kevin Miller (the project manager for the initial build and racing program of this boat as Katana) and John Hayes (who crewed with Katana extensively). We certainly expect to have fun and to look good doing so!'

Funk identified his team’s primary competition as Otra Vez, which he says he knows very well, as he was with the boat for the first year and a half, starting with its launch in New Zealand as Ptarmigan.

Others to watch in the Spinnaker Division are Stark Raving Mad, Jim Madden’s J/125 that finished fifth in class at Key West and more recently first in class at the Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten; Jack Desmond’s return entry Affinity, a Swan 48; and the Volvo 60 Spirit of Adventure skippered by solo around-the-world sailor Derek Hatfield.

Returning to the event, but with a very different boat this time, will be Phil Lotz (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). He has chartered the 62’ Gunboat Zenyatta to compete with the multihulls, which is a far cry from sailing his Swan 42 Arethusa – and winning with it – at monohull events all over the world. (He finished third at last year’s Les Voiles with Arethusa.)

'We are building a Gunboat 60, and we’ve got some distance racing we want to do with it, starting with the Caribbean 600 and then from there, hopefully, the Transatlantic Race in 2015,' said Lotz, Rear Commodore of the New York Yacht Club whose wife Wendy always crews with him. 'This will give us a chance to get some of the basics down.' He explained that only one other from his Arethusa crew will join the Zenyatta crew and the balance will be comprised primarily of Gunboat and other catamaran sailing experts, including Zenyatta’s captain Nils Erikson, who just sailed his Formula 40 to a first in class in St Maarten.

No doubt, their toughest competition will be Jason Carroll’s Elvis, which also will be fresh off a victory in St Maarten.


'Our expectations are not very high; it’s mostly about taking the opportunity to spend time on the boat, with some experienced crew, before we get our Gunboat,' said Lotz. 'St. Barths is a very nice place to be out in the ocean, and for this event, it’s not round-the-buoys and you can enjoy a catamaran in more point-to-point racing.'

Among the high-profile American entries in the Maxi division are Bella Mente (Hap Fauth, Minneapolis, Minn.), Rambler (George David, Hartford, Conn.) and Selene (Wendy Schmidt, Nantucket, Mass.)

Les Voiles de St. Barth consists of four days of racing, starting Tuesday, April 15, with one lay-day for merry making at Nikki Beach before the regatta concludes on Saturday, April 19 with an awards ceremony on the Quay at Gustavia Harbor. Event website

Ancasta Ker 33 660x82North Technology - Southern SparsZhik Dinghy 660x82

Related Articles

St. Thomas International Regatta 2017 - Day 2
Six to eight foot seas off island's east end, gusts blowing to 20 to 25 knots and mix of rain and sun all added to fun. The St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) proved its reputation as the 'Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing' by superbly delivering on its signature mix of round the rocks and round the buoy courses on the event's second day of competition. What's more, six to eight foot seas off the island's east end, gusts blowing to 20 to 25 knots and a mix of rain and sun all added to the fun.
Posted today at 8:45 am
St. Thomas International Regatta - Day 2 action-shots by Dean Barnes
Dean Barnes was on water at St. Thomas International Regatta 2017 and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action. Photographer Dean Barnes was on water at St. Thomas International Regatta 2017 and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action.
Posted today at 8:27 am
St. Thomas International Regatta – Day 1 – Wind was the word
Competitors in the Large Offshore Multihull Class especially reveled in the afternoon breeze. These polar-opposite conditions plus the challenge of round the islands rather than strictly buoy racing proved the talk of why some of the best sailors in the Caribbean, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand put STIR on their list of must-do’ regattas each year.
Posted today at 6:36 am
Meet Clipper 2017-18 Race skipper Gaëtan Thomas
This summer Gaëtan Thomas will make history as the first Belgian Skipper to lead a team around the world in Clipper Race This summer Gaëtan Thomas will make history as the first Belgian Skipper to lead a team around the world in the Clipper Race.
Posted today at 5:08 am
Bureau Vallée 2 back in the water in Brittany
The former Banque Populaire VIII aboard which Armel Le Cléac’h won the last Vendée Globe was put back in the water The former Banque Populaire VIII aboard which Armel Le Cléac’h won the last Vendée Globe was put back in the water on Friday in Lorient (Brittany), with her new decoration in the colours of Bureau Vallée.
Posted on 25 Mar
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 on 24 Mar
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