Please select your home edition
Edition
Wildwind 2016 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

Barz Optics - FloatersBakewell-White Yacht DesignMackay Boats

Related Articles

JJ Giltinan 18fters - 'Magic' levers keep Yamaha competitive in Race 2
Dave McDiarmid and the crew of Yamaha NZ had an end to end win in Sunday's Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan Trophy Dave McDiarmid and the crew of Yamaha NZ had an end to end win in Sunday's Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan Trophy sailed on Sydney harbour. In contrast to the rain-marred first race, the 26 boat fleet from Australia, New Zealand, and the USA raced under clear skies and a 16-20kt southerly wind.
Posted today at 10:06 am
2017 RORC Caribbean 600 – More start images by Tim Wright
Tim Wright captured these stunning shots at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600. Tim Wright captured these stunning shots at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 and along the course at St Barths, Barbuda and Redonda.
Posted on 26 Feb
2017 RORC Caribbean 600 start images by Tim Wright
Tim Wright captured these stunning shots at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600. Tim Wright captured these stunning shots at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 and along the course at St Barths, Barbuda and Redonda.
Posted on 26 Feb
JJ Giltinan Trophy - 18ft skiff images from Race 2 in the fresh breeze
Michael Chittenden was riding on the Camera Cat for Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan Trophy for 18ft skiffs Michael Chittenden was riding on the Camera Cat for Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan Trophy for 18ft skiffs, and provided this image gallery for the day, in which Yamaha (NZ) took her second win from as many races in the seven race series. Today's race was sailed in a fresh offshore breeze, with yesterday's rain giving way to blue skies making for a magnificent day for skiff sailing.
Posted on 26 Feb
18ft skiffs - Yamaha has second win on Day 2 of JJ Giltinan Trophy
NZ champion Yamaha team tightened the grip on the 2017 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship NZ champion Yamaha team tightened the grip on the 2017 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship with another stunning victory in today’s Race 2 of the championship on Sydney Harbour. With eyes set firmly on becoming the first New Zealand team to win the coveted crown on Sydney Harbour, David McDiarmid, Matt Steven and Brad Collins sailed another faultless race to win by 1m14s
Posted on 26 Feb
Clipper Round the World - Meet the 2017-18 crew - Greg Schey
Greg Schey is well on road to achieving that dream, after completing third of four sail training levels this week “I’ve always wanted to sail around the world. Since I was knee high to a grasshopper, one thing that I’ve always said is that’s what I want to do.” Greg Schey, a 27-year-old doctor from Swansea, Wales, is well on the road to achieving that dream, after completing the third of four sail training levels this week ahead of setting off for full circumnavigation in the Clipper 2017-18 Race this summer.
Posted on 26 Feb
18ft Skiffs - JJ Giltinan Trophy - Replay coverage - Race 2
Replay coverage of Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiffs from Sydney harbour - sailing in 15kts Replay coverage of Race 2 of the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiffs from Sydney harbour - sailing in 15kts
Posted on 26 Feb
JJ Giltinan Trophy - More images from a funky Day 1 on Sydney Harbour
More images from Michael Chittenden from the first race of the 2017 JJ Giltinan Trophy on Sydney Harbour, Michael Chittenden was on the water for the first race of the 2017 JJ Giltinan Trophy on Sydney Harbour, sailed in a funky breeze, leaden skies and plenty of rain. Plus a 300 metre long cruise liner at one end of the course and a waka wall at the other
Posted on 25 Feb
Vendee Globe - Video of Conrad Colman finish in Les Sables d'Olonne
Scenes of Kiwi solo round the world racer, Conrad Colman taken at the finish of the Vendee Globe race Scenes of Kiwi solo round the world racer, Conrad Colman taken at the finish of the Vendee Globe race, which he completed under jury rig after being dismasted 700nm from the finish. In Foresight Natural Energy Colman became the first New Zealand sailor to complete the Vendee Globe, he also became the first in eight editions of the race to sail the entire race using only renewable energy sources.
Posted on 25 Feb
Vendee Globe - Heerema delayed by Biscay lows
With 16 boats now finished, eighth edition of the Vendée Globe becomes the race with greatest ever number of finishers. With 16 boats now finished, the eighth edition of the Vendée Globe becomes the race with greatest ever number of finishers. Until now it was the 2000-2001 edition, with 24 starters and 15 finishers, which saw the biggest number of starters reach the end of their race at the legendary South Nouch buoy.
Posted on 25 Feb