In the 2013 Les Voiles de St Barth, after having been given plenty of time on yesterday’s longer courses to sort out their crew work, sail selection, tactics and sunscreen, sailors took to the turquoise seas off the French West Indies island of St. Barth for a second round of competition. With the first day down and competition defined, now it was time to fine-tune and sort out standings.
The race committee selected three courses: 22 nautical miles for Classics, Non-Spinnaker, Spinnaker 3 and Melges 24 classes; 27 nm for Spinnaker 1, Spinnaker 2, and Multihulls; and 29 nm for Maxis. All three courses took the boats out and around the northern end of St. Barths and the outlying islands. The southeasterly breeze was more sustained today at around 18 knots, with gusts to 20, which on the windward-side of the island produced large swells.
Les Voiles de St. Barth attracts a good mix of amateurs and professional sailors as well as some sailors who aren’t often seen at 'around the buoys' type racing. Marc Guillemot, the respected single-handed offshore sailor who has competed in numerous ‘round-the-world and transatlantic races, found himself in much less stressful conditions, sailing onboard Patrick Demarchelier’s Swan 53 Puffy (USA). 'Normally I am on very light boats that maneuver very easily,' Guillemot said, 'and today I was driving a boat that is roughly four times heavier than mine! (This one is roughly 28 tons and Safran (his IMOCA 60) is 7.5 tons.)
'I have been lucky enough to have sailed here a few times and it helps to know where the winds are more or less favorable,' continued Guillemot. 'Knowing the lay of the land is important, as it also allows you to negotiate the best way round the course. Personally, this week I am here to enjoy the racing and have some fun, and if we finish first or second, it is not going to make a huge difference…well, maybe for the crew it will!'
Matthew Sheahan, Racing Editor for Yachting World is in St. Barth for the first time and was clearly enjoying a busman’s holiday racing on Jolt 2 (GBR) in the Spinnaker 1 class. Sheahan described the conditions, particularly the upwind legs on the windward side: 'There was a lot of breeze, and it was quite hard work actually going upwind. Having not done this event before and having not been to Saint Barth and then doing that leg just characterizes my initial thoughts that the event is great, but it is quite a punchy part of the Caribbean. The last time I was around here was on the Caribbean 600 and that was punchy as well, so it is not a soft option coming here!
'It is an absolutely beautiful island,' Sheehan added, 'and I can see why so many people rave about it. It is something special in the Caribbean. The racing is good, the courses are good, it is well organized and you get a decent beat off the start.'
Racing in Spinnaker 1 class is tight: the current leader is Steve Cucchiaro’s Defiance, with James Blakemore’s Swan 53 Music in second, and Phil and Wendy Lotz’ Swan 42 Arethusa in third.
In the Spinnaker 2 class, the current leader is Sergio Saramoso’s Lazy Dog (PUR), while in second place is the chartered First 40 Ramanessin (IRE). Nigel Young, owner of North Sails Ireland, is tactician onboard, and just as importantly, he is the program manager. He explained he was tasked with putting a charter together for a friend of a friend who is a motor racing enthusiast, new to sailing and interested in having a go at sailing.
Young wanted to find somewhere warm for the first event, he said. 'We could have gone to Ireland which is where I am from, but I did not want to put everyone off as it can be pretty miserable. We looked at options of regattas and when I put forward Saint Barth, the decision was made in 20 seconds.' The group seems to have gelled nicely, as they have gotten the boat around the race course in second place twice in two races.
'I have raced everywhere but never in the Caribbean and we definitely would like to come back next year,' said Young. 'Most of the sailing we would be doing now would be windward/leeward style on very accurate set race courses, so doing this kind or racing around natural objects is really interesting. The boat owner, Lucy, is actually a great navigator, so it is making my job on the tactics and strategy very easy. She is right on it.'
Tonight is the crew party at Shell Beach, with video, music and fireworks. Tomorrow (Thursday) is a lay day for the competitors, with stand up paddle board races and other shoreside festivities at Nikki Beach on St. Jean Bay.
Racing continues on Friday and Saturday, with the warning signal at 10 a.m. on both days.
Overall (First, second, third) after two races:
IRC 52: Vesper (USA), Varuna (GER)
Maxi: Selene (USA), Whisper (IRE), Idea (GBR)
Spin 1: Defiance (USA), Arethusa (USA), Music (GBR)
Spin 2: Lazy Dog (PUR), Ramanessin (IRE), Northern Child (GBR)
Spin 3: Credit Mutuel Martinique Premiere (FRA), Maelia (SBH), Speedy Nemo (SBH)
Non-Spin: L’Esperance (SXM), High Tension (ANT) Shamrock VII (USA)
Melges 24: Budget Marine/Gill (SXM), Team Island Water World (SXM), French Connection (SBH)
Multihull: Paradox (CAY), Dauphin Telecom (SBH), Plan D’Enfer YCSF
Classics: Heroina (USA), Wild Horses (USA), Saphaedra (USA).
Les Voiles de St Barth
by Fabrice Thomazeau
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11:59 AM Thu 11 Apr 2013GMT
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