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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - Time for the largest 2021 Maxi gathering in the world

by Maguelonne Turcat 4 Oct 2021 21:32 PDT 25 September - 9 October 2021

Following the eye-popping ballet of classic and modern yachts last week, it's time to make way for the giants. The incredible line-up for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2021is the largest gathering of Maxis in the world this year.

The second week of the new format Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez will see racing get under way Tuesday, with Monday being devoted to registering the 45 competing boats and their crews, some of which comprise nearly 30 sailors. The whole of the race zone will be reserved for them this week, with starts and finishes just in front of the port of Saint Tropez. This is sport, performance and futurism in its wonderful XXL version, with the Maxis reflecting the very best there is in terms of naval architecture from the past decades, fittingly sailed by the most top-flight international crews who include Olympic champions and America's Cup skippers.

Understanding Maxi week at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

No fewer than 45 yachts measuring 20 to 40 metres will begin racing in the bay Tuesday, split into 4 separate groups. Two of these groups, IR1 and IR2, group together the Super Maxis with a waterline length of between 80 (24 m) and as much as 100 feet, like the Swan 115 Odin (35 metres). It's in these same groups that some of the stars of Les Voiles will hit the racetrack, namely the two J Classes, Velsheda (Nicholson 1933) and Topaz, a 1935 Frank Paine design launched in Holland in 2015. Three fabulous Wallys will also be doing battle: Magic Carpet Cubed, a familiar sight at Les Voiles, the Wally 100 Y3K and the Wally 107 Green Eyes, ex Kauris III.

Equally, two massive offshore record hunters, Comanche and Rambler will grace the scene. For the former, the event will be one of her very first showdowns under her new Russian owner, with the crew led by Australian Olympic Tornado medallist, Mitch Booth (who raced under the Netherlands flags at the Olympics). He'll be up against a very experienced crew of America's Cup veterans led by Brad Butterworth on Rambler, George David's Juan Kouyoumdjian design. An unknown entity this week is American Wendy Schmidt's new Botin 85 Deep Blue. The North Sails Trophy will reward the winner in IR1 and the Champagne Besserat de Bellefon Trophy the best IR2.

Prototypes and legends...

Two other groups, IR3 and IR4, will make up the sail boats measuring 60 (18.28 m) to 80 feet (24 m), known as the Mini Maxis. Three stunning 72-foot prototypes will be jockeying for the top spot: Jethou, Vesper and North Star against Wally 80s Ryokan 2 and Rose. All these yachts, like Mylius and Wally 60s, Swans, CNBs, BXs and even 'historic monuments' like the 12 m French Kiss and the Swan 65s of Whitbread fame like Ambersail, are ultimately ranked in corrected time according to their rating. In this way, the formidable Comanche, a VPLP / Guillaume Verdier design launched in 2014, which has amassed several wins in the major classics like the Sydney - Hobart and a series of major records like the North Atlantic and 24-hour, will be subject to a substantial rating, which will mean she'll need a comfortable lead if she's to stand a chance of taking outright victory. In all, six Wallys are participating in Les Voiles: Green Eyes, Lyra, Magic Carpet 3, Ryokan2, Rose and Y3K. For IR3, the SNSM Trophy and the Torpez Trophy (Vignobles de Saint-Tropez) will be up for grabs.

IMA: International Maxi Association

The International Maxi Association (IMA) is a World Sailing-approved organisation to represent the Maxi classes. The IMA Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge 2021 comprises 6 events, the top 3 counting towards the main prize:

  • Maxi Yacht Cup Trophy (within Rolex Capri Sailing Week): Capri (Italy): 11 - 14 May
  • Rolex Giraglia inshore series, Saint-Tropez (France): 13 - 15 June
  • Copa del Rey Mapfre: Palma, Mallorca (Spain): 31 July - 7 August
  • Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Porto Cervo (Sardinia): 5 - 11 September
  • Palma Vela: Palma, Mallorca (Spain): 27 - 31 October
  • Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Saint Tropez (France): 5 - 9 October
Previous winner: 2019 WALLYÑO Benoît de Froidmont


Benoit de Froidmont, President of the International Maxi Association, Owner of Wallyno:
"2020 was a very difficult year, especially for our sailors, who were at a loose end for far too long. However, we've made up for it this year and the Maxi owners' willingness to get out sailing again is impressive. A 40-year anniversary, 40 Maxis! (And more besides!). That's fantastic for Les Voiles. Everyone's delighted to be here and when you look at the line-up and the quality of the boats here, it's absolutely outstanding. We loved mixing it up with the Modern and Classic yachts, but competitively it's great to have the whole bay to race on. The IMA is continuing to expand and there's a great team to assist the event organisers. We have nearly 60 members and growing."

Giorgio Benussi, Wally Class:
"Six Wallys are participating at Les Voiles this year in various classes: IR1, IR2 and IR3. The largest is Green Eyes and the smallest are three 80-footers in IRC3. The owners requested that we participate here in Saint Tropez as it's one of our major events. Following issues created by Covid, we're rebuilding the Class according to some new rules and an approach more geared towards racing and competition for yachts like Magic Carpet and Y3K, and fewer purely sporting objectives for some of the smaller craft like Ryokan and Lyra so as to mix it up a bit. Les Voiles has it all as far as the owners are concerned: the site, the atmosphere and the prestige, as well as the opportunity to join the Maxi and Wally competitions."

The Maxi Trophies:

  • IR1: North Sails Trophy
  • IR2: Champagne Besserat de Bellefon Trophy
  • IR3: SNSM Trophy
  • IR4: Torpez - Vignoble de Saint-Tropez Trophy

2021 Programme

Week 2: Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Maxi Yachts
Sunday 3 and Monday 4 October: registration for all modern yachts above 18.29m
Wally, IRCA, Maxi yachts
Tuesday 5, Wednesday 6, Thursday 7, Friday 8, Saturday 9: regattas
Saturday 9 October: Prize Giving (Week 2)

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