Voiles de Saint-Barth - A must on the calendar
by Fabrice Thomazeau on 27 Sep 2013
It has been just five years since the Voiles de Saint-Barth event was created. A clear concept, an exceptional setting, a serious organiser, and all of the racers coming from around the world have done the rest. With each year, it’s reputation has spread by word of mouth bringing new sailors to come and share in the joys of yachting around the waters of a pearl in the Caribbean: Saint-Barth.
Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2013 © Tim Wright / Les Voiles de St Barth http://www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com/
With each edition, the number of boats has continued to grow, but it’s not just the quantity, the quality of the line-up has also strengthened with the involvement of some of the leading lights from the world of international sailing, including: Ken Read, Loïck Peyron, Peter Holmberg, Jim Swartz, and Gavin Brady. After just four editions, the Voiles de Saint-Barth has managed to win over skippers and convince sailors and owners to take part. The recipe is a simple but powerful one; with sport, racing, magnificent and varied courses and a sense of enjoyment that is a unique characteristic of the islanders and of seafarers. From 14th to 19th April 2014, all of these ingredients will once again be in the mix to offer even more races and even greater excitement in a breathtaking show.
'Our short history has seen controlled growth and ongoing changes,' says François Tolède, the event director. The organisers remain cautious, listening first of all to what the racers have to say. 'They are at the heart of the event and we are there to satisfy as best we can their expectations: fine varied racing out on the water, and a very special occasion ashore, for them, their crews and their families,' adds Tolède.
'The general public, the racers and partners have always enjoyed this event, which encourages us to do our utmost to ensure the fifth anniversary is successful next April.'
Conviviality is a watchword at the Voiles de Saint-Barth, perfectly reflecting the aspirations of modern yachting. The boats, in all their magnificence hold pride of place, and Luc Poupon and every year the race directors manage to find courses in amongst the scores of tiny islands around Saint-Barth, which has led the American, Ken Read to declare: 'each change of tack is a magical moment. Each gybe offers us yet another amazing sight.'
The Voiles de Saint-Barth makes the most of these windy waters offering highly technical race courses, which delight the sailors. The sea here is to be enjoyed, shared and is a source of friendship. People come to the Voiles from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, New England and from all around Europe. This cosmopolitan gathering in the warm atmosphere of the island works its magic, and the ability to share sailing experiences, both at sea and ashore, is one of the elements that make the Voiles what it is for the 600 sailors representing around twenty different nationalities.
'The Voiles de Saint-Barth event has today well and truly established itself as a major event in the Caribbean racing calendar,' says Tolède. 'This fifth birthday looks like being a big one to which we are inviting all the racers who made previous editions so successful.' At the Voiles, there is something to please everyone. The Voiles de Saint-Barth opens up these emerald and blue waters to five different classes. That means that all types of boat can compete on the same footing, with everyone able to look forward to magnificent races, which are bound to be hotly contested and very close. Maxi-Yachts, IRC 52s, Spinnakers and non-spinnakers, as well as a fine group of multihulls, will each be given their own distinct rankings.
'Each year we have seen an increase of between twenty and thirty percent in terms of registrations. We are aiming for a fleet of 80 boats next year, which will make the fleet more stunning and even more competitive,' says Tolède.
The Voiles de Saint-Barth event has also managed to ensure partners remain faithful thanks to the values of yachting, and each year they contribute to the success and development of the event. The watchmaker Richard Mille has been the headline partner since 2010, alongside the garment maker Gaastra, the Banque des Antilles Françaises (BPCE), and the Saint-Barthélémy local authorities.
'Some other prestigious brands will be joining us for the fifth anniversary,' promises Tolède, 'so that we can put on an unforgettable celebration for the racers…'
Note the date in your diary: 14th to 19th April in Les Voiles de Saint Barth