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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - Les Voiles catches its breath

by Maguelonne Turcat 6 Oct 2021 09:19 PDT 25 September - 9 October 2021

The expected Mistral episode translated as powerful winds throughout this Wednesday, with 42 knots recorded in the bay, gusting to 50 knots. Needless to say that in circumstances such as these it was impossible to host any races today.

The 45 Maxi Yachts competing in the second week of Les Voiles wisely remained tucked up in the harbour, beefing up their warps as they awaited the much hoped for abatement at the end of the day. Following yesterday's exceptional racing, there were a number of competitors who were not averse to the prospect of being able to enjoy a brief interlude with the Mediterranean providing the perfect backdrop.

Inevitably, they have plenty of repairs to busy themselves with as a result of the bracing sailing in the bay breeze, which has produced some exceptional images which will doubtless ensure that the lavish and classy legend that is Les Voiles warms everyone's hearts for a good while to come. Battle is set to resume on Thursday and naturally a new scenario, a new set, new lighting and new adventures await the enthusiastic skippers in the 4 IRC groups, to which will be added the highly exclusive in-house Mini championship comprising the 6 Wallys in action at Les Voiles this week.

The latest on the racing

Following the totting up of the handicaps, the rankings in corrected time provide a wonderful snapshot of yesterday's spectacular day of racing and a chance to really take notice of the 'opposing armies' in each of the groups, even if the strong breeze has creamed off the best of the smallest groups a little. Indeed, the Mini Maxis measuring 60 to 80 feet and grouped into IRC 4 have only managed to rank one of their races so far as the gusts of more than 30 knots convinced the majority of the contenders to wisely head back to port.

It's Elise Whisper, the Irish Southern Wind 77 which secured a much deserved victory as the only one in her group to complete the entire 36.5-mile course. Meantime, there was a battle royal in IR3B, dominated by the Mylius 80 Twin Soul in elapsed time, though ultimate victory went to the Wally 80 Lyra once the measurement was calculated. Jethou went one better, taking the win in IR3 A in both elapsed and corrected time. In IRC2, the J Class Topaz spent the whole day playing around with the Maxis in IRC 1. This evening, she takes the lead in IRC 2 ahead of the large sloop (33 metres) Silvertip (Dubois 2001). Suffice to say that the 45 Maxis are eagerly awaiting tomorrow's action when a lighter and flukier breezier is forecast to reshuffle the cards for one and all.

The Wallys treated to their very own championship within Les Voiles

6 sizeable Wallys with very different designs are racing at Les Voiles in a variety of groups. Indeed, Lyra (Wally 77), Ryokan (Wally 80) and Rose (Wally 80) are sailing in IRC 3B, Green Eyes (Wally 107) in IRC2, whilst Magic Carpet Cubed (Wally Cento) and Y3K (Wally 100) are in IRC1. As a result, a formula has been devised to award points to each yacht at the end of each race, taking into account the ranking of each boat in their respective groups, independently of the courses and ratings. In this way, yesterday's race saw Lyra take pole position, ahead of Ryokan and Magic Carpet Cubed. The boat that places highest at the end of Saturday's racing will receive the one and only Wally Trophy.

Robin Follin, Magic Carpet Cubed

24-year-old Robin Follin lives in nearby Sainte Maxime. With 7 world champion titles to his credit, he is a top-flight helmsman, particularly so aboard the first French boat to compete in the Youth America's Cup and flying the flag of the Yacht Club de France. He currently divides his time between offshore racing with the preparation of his second Solitaire du Figaro campaign and sailing on a multitude of foiling craft. This week he's sailing aboard the giant, Wally Cento Magic Carpet Cubed, with a crew of international stars.

"It's a very special experience and one that's very different to what I usually do in terms of my role aboard and my understanding of the boat. It's very interesting to make by debut on this circuit and on this type of boat. Group synergy on a boat like this is super important. You need to understand how it works and the roles of each person. The crew is entirely Anglo-Saxon, so the language barrier also comes into play for me. It's magical though. Yesterday, I was really starry-eyed! Neck and neck with Rambler and Comanche... I was knackered by the evening! It's just a riot. We sailed to Le Lavandou and back in 4 hours! It's incredible! What power, what a feeling! The boats are magnificent and you have to be very careful and take into account a great many factors. I think sailing on these big boats is an absolute must in every sailor's career and it helps us to step up our game in other aspects of the profession. There are 28 of us aboard Magic Carpet, so the synergies, the communication and the anticipation are completely different to what we do in other types of sailing. You have to know how to adapt. You also need to know how to prove yourself and stand out because this kind of sailing is an elite sport and places aboard are few and far between. That's part and parcel of the journey you undertake as a sailor. Finding a niche for yourself here is how you shape a career."

Arnaud Boissières, Ryokan

"I've known 'Mouette' (Olivier Lozachmeur, boat captain on Ryokan ed's note) for a long time. He's a great guy and a great sailor. I've been coming to Les Voiles for 5 years and this year, on the back of the Vendée Globe, I was able to sail in Portofino as Mouette's guest. Les Voiles is fantastic! We raced in the breezy conditions yesterday, side by side with Comanche and Rambler! Amazing! The boats and the crews are very honed. It's really impressive to see. The crews are very professional and very nice. On the dock, you meet big names from every country. I have a bit of a crack at everything aboard. My mission: to learn one word of English a day! Joking aside, it's very rewarding sailing on these big Maxis. They're complex boats and sailing in crewed configuration really is a fully-committed exercise..."

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