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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - Sunday in the sunshine

by Maguelonne Turcat 27 Sep 13:58 PDT 26 September - 9 October 2020
Yacht Club de France's Autumn Cup © Gilles Martin-Raget

Enjoying a fine breeze and bright sunshine, the splendid arrival in race format of the classic yachts competing in the Yacht Club de France's Autumn Cup kicks off play for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2020.

This year, for the first time in its history, there will be a whole two weeks of racing in the bay. Naturally, there is the utmost vigilance on shore due to the pandemic, whilst out on the water the desire to get out sailing and share the passion of racing is very much in evidence, as proven by the 140 craft signed up for opening week. Boats measuring up to around 20 metres will hit the racetrack from tomorrow through until Saturday, at which point they will trade places with the super boats, Modern and Classic yachts, which will also get their turn in the spotlight.

The Modern craft kick off proceedings

The sports version of Les Voiles will be in full swing once again from tomorrow, Monday, with the hosting of the first series of jousts by the Modern fleet from 11:00 hours. This year, there are some 85 boats split into 6 groups, 5 of which will be racing under IRC with one reserved for the TP52s. Mylius, Swan, Grand Soleil, Kers or Solaris... the cream of the fast racer-cruisers are present in Saint Tropez, keen to get out racing again in what has been a rather slim race schedule this year due to the multiple cancellations. Of note is the very fine group of Tofinous, 9.5s, 12s and other Code Zeros, elegant dayboats from the Latitude 46 yard, which are both luxurious and attractive. Combining classic looks with a twist of modernity, twelve of these craft will race within their own dedicated group this week.

Yacht Club de France's Autumn Cup

The Yacht Club de France's Cup traditionally rewards the winner of the race that links Cannes and Saint Tropez, rounding off the Régates Royales and kicking off Les Voiles. In this way, twenty-four Classic craft left Cannes this morning from 11:00 hours in a fair E'ly wind conducive to hoisting spinnakers in the sunshine over the 23-mile coastal course, before rounding off in a NW'ly. It was the Bermudan sloop Il Moro di Venezia which snatched victory in elapsed time ahead of the pretty gaff riggers, Chips (P Class Starling Burgess 1913) and Scud (Herreshoff- Bar Harbor 31 from 1903), a newcomer to Les Voiles which clearly has the bit between her teeth for this edition.

Inauguration of the Village

The Race Village at Les Voiles was inaugurated late afternoon this Sunday by the first deputy mayor of Saint Tropez, Sylvie Siri, accompanied by Pierre Roinson, President of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez. A vital part of Les Voiles, it has been adapted according to the exceptional circumstances of the present day. Spanning 400m2, rather than 1,500, the partners of Les Voiles can present themselves here in line with the social distance regulations and the relevant health guidelines with recording of temperatures, sanitising stations and a limited access quota. For the competitors, the registration confirmation and access to the jury is to be carried out according to an identical protocol, with separate access.


Pierre Roinson, President of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez:
"This is a tricky edition faced with some massive constraints. The final decisions came late in the day and we had to adapt accordingly. We're having to take into account the health crisis and a brand-new format to Les Voiles, which this year will run over two weeks. The idea is to separate out the large and the smaller craft, largely as a result of safety precautions. The show should win out, with all the big boats racing amongst each other over two weeks. Moreover, all the race starts and finishes will now take place off Portalet, as was the case during the fine age of the Nioulargue. As a result, there will be 15 showstopping days out at sea and right up close to the port. The health crisis means that a lot of boats will be missing, especially the big boats whose crews come from all over the world, and who are not in a position to travel to the event. We promise they'll be here next year! I'd like to thank all our partners, who are sticking with us during this time of crisis despite the economic issues. We've retained our teams of volunteers and those in charge of the race zone, with fewer rounds closer to shore, facilitated by the new formula. I hope that everything runs smoothly for Les Voiles, without any health issues. I'm relying on the crews' discipline. We won't have the usual party atmosphere on shore but it will be just as sociable as ever aboard the boats."

Georges Korhel, Principal Race Officer:
"The skippers of the big boats have always found it dangerous to sail with the small boats. Even when they set off in front, the small boats still ended up crossing tacks with the big boats at some point, with some significant differences in speed, especially at the mark roundings. Three years ago, we integrated the big boats in the Wally round at Pampelonne. However, back then, we could only offer them short courses, which weren't much fun for the crews. This year, we've decided to treat the big boats to a whole week to themselves! In this way, they'll be able to line up from the start line off the port, for even more fun with a much safer formula to boot! In future, if possible, I'd like to get the big boats racing in the first week. The idea behind this new formula is to treat the racers and spectators to a fantastic week with the big craft. Modern and Classic yachts will each have their own dedicated courses. The Modern craft will be the first to set sail, at around 11:00 hours each day, then we'll link onto the traditional craft. We just need to switch committees. The courses will just be a little longer, as we need to get out of the bay. The Challenge Day is still on, as is the 55 Cup. Due to Covid, the Yacht Club de Gstaad's Centenary Cup has been cancelled however. The crisis means we have fewer boats, 150 rather than the usual 300, which will enable us to really iron out this new organisation."

Tony Oller, CEO of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez:
"Les Voiles is making things much simpler. We've been working on this plan for the past two years. We're splitting the fleets into small and big boats to prolong the show and to host the starts and finishes off the port. The off-centre rounds for the fleets of Modern and big boats are over. Curiously, it's kind of in tune with the health guidelines as we have fewer boats each week as the fleets are split in two. It also adds to the spectacle. Nothing is set in stone. We'll make an analysis at the end of Les Voiles, together with our partners and a few of the key owners, and we'll make some adjustments for next year. In the week ahead I'm expecting some great images and some positive energy, in line with the health guidelines, without any mass gatherings."

Week 1: The Voiles de Saint-Tropez

  • Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September: registration for boats up to 20 meters (except for certain classes)
  • Monday 28th September: racing for modern yachts
  • Tuesday 29th, Wednesday 30th September, Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd October: racing for modern yachts and classic yachts
  • Thursday 1st October: Challenge Day
  • Saturday 3rd October: prize-giving (week 1)

Week 2: The Voiles Super Boats

  • Sunday 4th and Monday 5th October: big boat registration (Wally, IRCA, Maxi yachts, big Classic, big Schooner)
  • Tuesday 6th, Wednesday 7th, Thursday 8th, Friday 9th: big boat racing
  • Friday 9th October: prize-giving (week 2)

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