The ambiance in Saint-Tropez is changing. As of Saturday afternoon the megayachts begun leaving the port to make way for the modern sailboats and, as of this evening, the classic sailboats coming over from Cannes to participate in the 2008 Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.
This year marks not only the 10th anniversary of the regatta but also the 3rd edition of the Rolex Trophy that will go to the Classic Yacht over 16 metres who has accumulated the fewest points over the week of regattas. Sunday is reserved for the traditional stream of inscriptions but as of tomorrow, Monday, the racing will begin with the modern sailboats. The classic sailboats will enter the competition as of Tuesday.
While it is not quite winter here in the city of Tropezian patriot Bailli de Sufren, the port of Saint-Tropez is nevertheless bustling with almost summer levels of activity and affluence this last weekend of September. The tourists flock to the port as the motor yachts give up their privileged moorings for the week. The modern maxi yachts quickly found their place of berth, sterns at the main docks, tempting passing spectators with their magnificent decks. One cannot help but notice the gigantic Wally Esense, dwarfing her harboured neighbours with her extra-ordinary size. Magic Carpet, Y3K, Dark Shadow, J One, and Open Season complete the picture while waiting for the evening arrival of Lulworth, Moonbeam III and IV, Tuiga, Shamrock V and Thendara. Although the port of Saint-Tropez welcomes sailing yachts of all sizes, two participants will be obliged to anchor outside the port due to their unusual size: Créole, at 60 metres in length, and Senso One (formerly known as Mari Cha IV), that is over 9m wide with a draft of nearly six metres.
In light of the regattas set to begin tomorrow, sailors are taking care of last minute refinements and tactical decisions. Among the tacticians on site is Paul Cayard, sailing onboard Jim Schwartz' Swan 601 Moneypenny. For the past ten years Paul Cayard has been a Rolex Testimonee. With five World Championships, five America's Cup campaigns, two Olympic campaigns and a victorious trip around the world in the Whitebread '98 aboard EF Language, Paul Cayard was logically nominated as the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 1998. In 2007 Arnaud Boetsch of Rolex SA presented Paul Cayard with the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master II regatta chronograph.
In addition to the exceptional prescence of Paul Cayard, Xavier Rohart, French representative at the Olympic Games in Pekin and Bronze medallist in the Star category, will be sailing next to Bruno Jeanjean and Jean Sébastien Ponce onboard Cachou, the new Sly 42. Isabelle Autissier will be sailing onboard Lady First, and Philippe Presti, Bertrand Pacé and Marc Pajot will be onboard the Maxi French Spirit in preparation for the next America's Cup. Ernesto Bertarelli and Brad Butterworth from Team Alinghi will also be participating, sailing on Numbers. Philippe Monet, James Spithill, Karol Jablonski and Lionel Péan round up this impressive list of sailors who have each written an important page in the history of modern sailing.
Throughout the week we will be presenting spotlight pieces on the men who have designed and planned these magnificent monohulls whose shape and performance have continued to amaze us for almost a century. Monday's piece will be dedicated to Olin James Stephens who left us just a few weeks ago and who had just celebrated his 100th birthday. Fife, Camper and Nicholson, Herreshoff and more will also be covered during the week.
Rendez-vous tomorrow for the first of the regattas and the beginning of this saga. Programme for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez Classic Sailboats
Sunday the 28th and Monday the 29th of September: Welcome for the yachts
Sunday the 28th September: Arrival of the Yacht Club de France's Autumn Cup from Cannes
Tuesday the 30th of September, Wednesday the 1st of October, Thursday the 2nd (Jean LAURAIN Day, Challenge Day and Club 55 Cup), Friday the 3rd and Saturday the 4th: Coastal Courses, 1st start 11:00/12:00 Modern Sailboats
Saturday the 27th of September and Sunday the 28th: Welcome for the yachts
Monday the 29th, Tuesday the 30th, Wednesday the 1st of October, Thursday the 2nd (Jean LAURAIN Day, Challenge Day), Friday the 3rd and Saturday the 4th of October: Coastal Courses, 1st start 11:30
The Prize Giving Ceremony will be held on Sunday October 5th, starting at 11:00 (on invitation).
For the third consecutive year Rolex is in the 'Partner Club' for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. This regatta, organized by the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez (SNST), is part of the Rolex Yachting Portfolio that includes over twenty world-class sailing events that take place around the world. Rolex is also the title sponsor of mythic races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Rolex Middle Sea Race and the legendary Rolex Fastnet Race.