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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - Day 1

by Maguelonne Turcat 1 Oct 2018 22:53 PDT 29 September - 7 October 2018
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez day 1 © Gilles Martin-Raget

The incessant activity of the 300 crews as they strive to put the final touches to their preparation, or give the copper and the brightwork one last polish, has created a real fervour in the port of Saint Tropez, suffused with the dazzling light of a summer that does not want to fade.

With the Mistral keeping the yachts in port today, the huge crowds were able to walk the pontoons at their leisure and get up close to admire the finest gathering of Classic and Modern yachts in the world. The racing will switch into gear tomorrow with the whole fleet of boats and the 4,000 sailors set to get out on the water, all eager to get going and carve out some unforgettable memories of the triumphant and eternal yachting showcased at Les Voiles each year.

The Classics take the stage

Nearly 130 Classic yachts, split into 12 groups according to their size and rig type, enter the Saint Tropez arena tomorrow. It'll be like hooking back up with old friends as they take to the water. Among them, Moonbeam 4, the large 1914 Fife-design gaff cutter, the four sublime 15 m JIs Tuiga, The Lady Ann, Hispania and Mariska, and the 8 M JIs Carron II, Silhouette, Fulmar and Falcon, which will all compete in a unique Fife jubilee for the Rolex Trophy, organised to mark the 130th anniversary of the Scottish yard's famous bow dragon. Indeed, this eminently elitist group has much to celebrate. Built in the period between the wars, Cambria – the largest member of the class here, with 40 metres on the deck, rightly considered to be one of William Fife junior's masterpieces, is this year celebrating her 90th birthday. Meantime, the delicate gaff cutter Viola – ranked as an historic monument – is 110 years old this year!

A world exclusive at Les Voiles

It's a planetary first to which Les Voiles boasts exclusivity: a genuine racing steed, the brand new Z4 is debuting here, even before she is revealed at the Paris Automobile Show. "The world of boating and that of the car come together as one in a common quest for maximum efficiency, taking into account our respective constraints," explains Loïck Peyron, reigning champion of the Route du Rhum and brand ambassador. Upon invitation, BMW fans at Les Voiles can also view the X7, due out in 2019, the I 8 Roadster, M4 cabriolet, Series 8 Coupé, a range of electric bicycles and also 10 courtesy cars to get the stars of the show where they need to be. Partner to Les Voiles since 2013, the BMW Trophy will reward the top Wally at the end of the week's racing.

Kismet wins the Yacht Club de France's Coupe d'Automne

Following the Jury's decision, the gaff cutter Kismet (Fife 1898) takes victory in her group in corrected time in the Coupe d'Automne, the feeder race from Cannes to Saint Tropez. In the other four groups, we note the victories of Pippa in the Esprit de tradition category, Cippino II (Frers 1949) among the Marconi rigs of less than 16.50m, Rowdy (Herreshoff 1916) among the Marconis measuring over 16.50m and Lys (Sparkman & Stephens 1956) among the Classics.

The Mistral takes Les Voiles by storm

As brutal as it is fleeting, the appearance of the Mistral prevented today's racing, which is traditionally reserved for the Modern Yachts, Race Management rightly deeming the 25kts of established breeze a step too far. This relatively short and localised phenomenon should leave the rest of the week clear for much more favourable conditions for validating the races.

A new class at Les Voiles

Principal Race Officer at Les Voiles, Georges Kohrel, has managed to satisfy a request from the competitors themselves. "The "Esprits de Tradition" category, which grouped together boats capable of radically different speeds due to the 'no limit' LOA criteria, has been removed from Les Voiles due to lack of coherence. However, there is a fleet of large modern boats, albeit classically inspired, which is keen to race together. And so... the Big Spirit of Tradition is born, adhering to the same programme as the traditional yachts, with races from Tuesday through to Saturday, the Thursday being traditionally reserved for challenges."

Extraordinary yachts - Dione; William Fife III's best?

Built in Fairlie, Scotland, in 1912, the Bermudan yawl Dione is considered by many to be one of William Fife III's most beautiful creations. Well ahead of her time, with her long keel, her massive rig and her average displacement of 25 tonnes balanced by a 52-foot waterline (15.50m), Dione slipped through the water admirably, though naturally she was very wet. A gaff cutter originally, Dione was transformed in 1938 into a Bermudan cutter, losing her bowsprit along the way. You can see her throughout the week at Les Voiles, within the context of the Fife Jubilee for the Rolex Trophy.

Did you know?

A rich merchant from Glasgow, James Smith from Jordan Hill, who was also a scientist and a writer, was one of the very first yachtsmen on the Scottish Clyde, and one of the first clients of one William Fife. Indeed, back in 1807, he placed an order for a six-tonne cutter, the very first Fife design to be listed.

Quotes:

Georges Kohrel, Principal Race Officer at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
"We're relying on the Special Weather Report produced by Meteo France, which gave a storm warning in the bay throughout today. It's a fairly classic "Mistraleux" phenomenon in the region, with a very strong NNE'ly gale between Corsica and Sardinia. From daybreak we recorded 40 knots of wind in the east, gusting to 50 knots. This gale is as short as it is brutal, as it's set to disappear at the end of the evening. No competitors want to take the risk of breaking gear today. A fine week awaits and it is out of the question to take pointless risks."

Today's partner - BRIG A new partner at Les Voiles, BRIG is Europe's top rib builder with nearly 2,500 craft produced a year utilising nearly 30 years' experience and constant innovations. Ranging from 2.75 to 7.85 metres, the Ukrainian brand today offers a 9.90m rib. Across its 4 ranges: Eagle, Navigator, Falcon and Falcon Tender, Brig boasts a rib for every occasion from amateur to professional requirements, as boats or tenders.

www.lesvoilesdesaint-tropez.fr

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