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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - Maxi Day 2

by Maguelonne Turcat 5 Oct 2022 12:53 PDT 24 September - 8 October 2022

In many respects, today's racing was very similar to yesterday's for the 800 sailors and 46 Maxis competing in week two of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. The crews managed to stay focused as they waited for the E'ly wind to pick up, and when it did the teams of Georges Korhel and the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez immediately sprang into action to launch the day's race.

Setting sail on a 20-mile double looped circuit around the gulf, the crews, many of them professionals, are all more than capable of getting the best out of their steeds, whatever the conditions served up. Like yesterday, the delicate subtlety of a light breeze prompted the strategists and tacticians to go all out from the starting gun as they made for either Sainte Maxime or deep into the bay towards Les Canoubiers.

However, the expected accelerations stepped things up a gear at the edge of the race zone, the fleets squeezing back together for a race dripping in suspense for each of the groups, who validated their second race of the week with real energy amidst the wonderful autumn vibes.

Spirit of MalouenX in her element

The massive Swan 115 Jasi, whose crew includes American Ken Read, famed for his America's Cup and Volvo campaigns, was on fire from the moment the Maxi 1 start was given early this afternoon. Launching into a long tacking duel with Spirit of Malouen X, the Wally 107 with her predominantly French crew, her actions were mirrored by the two large prototypes Morgana (Reichel/Pugh) and Pattoo (McKeon) as the NE'ly wind began clocking round to the east, freshening slightly in the process.

However, victory ultimately went to Spirit of Malouen X after a brilliant performance, enabling her to settle into position at the top of tonight's provisional overall ranking for the Maxi 1s.

The 72s power ahead!

The Maxi 2 group may well be the most popular of the week given how evenly matched they are, despite their very different signatures. Rambler88, the record-breaking Kouyoumdjian design also swiftly moved to the front of the fleet, in contact with the Wallycentos of the Maxi1 group. Unfortunately, one of her crew took a tumble, not serious thank heavens, forcing Rambler88 to retire from the race.

Yesterday's leaders, the formidable 72 footers, made the most of the situation to continue making their mark in this group. The day's winners, North Star, Jethou and Cannonball, clearly have their eyes on the prize for this week's final ranking.

Lyra again!

It was another wonderful day of racing for Capricorno, the Italian Reichel/Pugh 80, but it's the Wally Lyra lying in ambush this evening among the Maxi 3s. Meantime, the 'smaller' Maxis of the Maxi 4 group continue to be dominated by the 12mR Kiwi Magic KZ7, which is still seemingly in a league of her own ahead of the Swan 65 Saida.

Communication and coordination: the key to performance in light airs

Thierry Péponnet, Olympic 470 champion in Seoul, is a welcome addition to the crew on the Wallycento Tango. Getting a 40-tonne sailboat making headway in very light airs requires exquisite teamwork he reveals: "I make the call on the manoeuvres, the sail choices and which side of the race zone to stay on. I communicate that information to the navigator Jeff Cuzon and tactician François Brenac.

"The toughest part of racing in light airs is that our sensors are at the masthead some 50 m above deck. All the data on wind strength and direction are collected up there and, in these conditions, there can be a discrepancy of up to 3 knots between the information up top and at deck level, and that is changing constantly. We can only try to calculate whether we're inside our targets, the boat's polars.

"A boat like Tango has displays attached to the mast which tell the helmsman what speed he or she needs to maintain according to the wind strength and direction, with the aim of sticking to these targets. The helm-trimmer pairing is a gamechanger in this regard, with communication between them absolutely crucial.

"Tango hasn't sailed for three years and the competition has really raised their game in the meantime!"

Tomorrow, Thursday, the Maxis challenge one another

For the first time, a lay day is scheduled in for tomorrow among the Maxis. Having already racked up two successful races, Race Management is keen to rekindle its ties with tradition by organising a 'Club 55 Cup - Maxi' between the two large Wallys, Magic Carpet 3 and Tango, who will duel along the legendary course towards the Nioulargue, Pampelonne and back, with luncheon served at the Club 55 for both crews.

In a spirit of fair play and competition, the start line off Saint Tropez will remain open for all those boats wishing to throw down the gauntlet.

Elsewhere at Les Voiles...

Renowned throughout the sailing world as the first woman to sail solo around the world in both directions (westabout in 178 days against the prevailing winds and currents and eastabout in the Vendée Globe 2008-2009 - 6th), British sailor Dee Caffari is competing at Les Voiles this week aboard the Swan 82 Kallima, in the Maxi 3 Group.

Photo competition

Entitled "Objectifs Voiles", Les Voiles' special jury, which notably includes Laurent Rabé, Images Service and Gilles Martin Raget, had to decide which of the many entries best reflected the passion and enjoyment of racing. And so it was that Cléa Auger, from nearby Cavalaire, was declared this year's winner.

Event website:

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