Another sultry day on the French Riviera as racing concluded for the week at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2011. For the 300 or more boats at this year’s edition, no amount of wind dances or prayers could conjure up enough breeze for a final day of racing. While both Tradition and Modern sailing yachts managed to get a race started, in the end, only the smaller modern boat classes were able to finish. For the Tradition fleet, with a bit of déjà vu for the week, after a few hours of the fleet struggling to get upwind, the decision was made to abandon racing for the day. All standings as of Friday would remain intact.
For the Rolex Trophy group, three races would be counted for the week. With a scoreline of 1-1-1, the 75-foot gaff cutter Avel won their class (Epoque Aurique), as well as the Rolex Trophy, which will be awarded – with a Rolex timepiece – at tomorrow’s prizegiving at La Citadelle.
The Rolex Trophy is awarded to the low point winner from the Tradition division boats that are more than 16 metres (length on deck). There were 51 boats eligible in this division, spread over eight classes in the fleet.
Sailing yacht Avel raced in the 13-boat Epoque Aurique B class with other boats of near the same vintage including Nan of Fife and Veronique. Despite her 100+ year age and gaff sail plan, Avel’s wine-glass shaped underbody is well-suited for the light air that was predominant this week.
The boat, originally built in 1896, is owned and raced by Allegra and Alessandra Gucci. The Italian sisters have sailed onboard since it was re-launched in 1996, following a complete restoration. Allegra was at the helm of Avel when the boat finished first in the feeder race last week from Cannes to St Tropez. For Les Voiles, skipper Chris Austin was helming, while Allegra was on the bow, and Alessandra on the mainsail. Clearly delighted with the win, Allegra said, “It was very difficult, with such light winds, but we have an excellent crew. Avel likes the conditions, and we went in the right direction!”
Austin added, “Tactically we were very good. We’re really happy for the week. We had a bad start today, but we came up through our class and got to La Mouette buoy, and were first in our class at that stage – between the rest of our class and the finish line.
S/Y Avel was discovered in a mudbank in West Mersea, on the southeast coast of England – an area where many other vintage yachts have been found. At the time in 1991, the boat was being used as a houseboat. Austin describes the boat as it was found, “She had sat there since between the wars. We found her, dug her out and restored her (from 1992-4). She was really one of the very few yachts that were found in a repairable condition. I mean she’s so original – the interior is 85%, the hull is 85% original, so it was really good to find her…she’s a gem, a rarity!
Second to Avel for the Rolex Trophy was Mariska, which won her class (15 Metre), with a score of 2-1-1. Built in 1908 and owned by Christian Niels, it is one of three 15 Metre class yachts racing at Les Voiles. Mariska underwent a full restoration, was relaunched in 2009 and has been having a successful run ever since.
Third placed was Rowdy, co-owned by Graham Walker and Nick Barham. The New York 40 class sloop won the Rolex Trophy in 2008 & 2009.
The season-ending Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is one of the bigger regattas in the Mediterranean – and certainly one of the most diverse in terms of type of fleet. For the modern fleet, the boats are rated under IRC, while the tradition class follows the CIM (Comité International de la Méditerranée) rule, and as the regatta is based in France, is run under the auspices of L’Association Française des Yachts de Tradition.
To determine which boats race in what division, the duty falls to Roger Gibert and Renaud Godard, CIM measurers. For Les Voiles, the fleet is divided as to age and material of hull construction. So, the Tradition class includes all yachts launched prior to December 31, 1975, and built of wood or metal. All others from 1976 forward, including all yachts built of fiberglass, carbon fibre or other materials, race in the Modern division.
Then under the Tradition division, there are further distinctions as to the age of yacht. All boats launched from 1950 – 1975, again only in wood/metal, are considered “classique”; those launched prior to 1950 are considered “époque”.
The 51 boats that competed in the Rolex Trophy were spread across eight classes: Grande Epoque, 15 Metre, Epoque Aurique (A+B), Epoque Marconi (A+C+D), and Classique Marconi B. The Rolex Trophy was first awarded in 2006, past winners include:
2010 – Ikra, 12-metre. Originally built as Kurrewa V, a trial horse for the Royal Thames YC for the 1964 America’s Cup. Later owned by Baron Bich, who sold it in 1977, after which it was converted for racing/cruising in the Mediterranean.
2008 & 2009 – Rowdy, Herreshoff-designed New York 40 class. Commissioned by the New York Yacht Club and built in 1916, this design is 40 feet on the waterline (approx 65 ft LOA).Grand
2007 – Agneta, 25-metre yawl, built in 1951. Agneta’s beautiful varnished mahogany hull and tanbark sails are unmistakable on the water.
2006 – So Fong, 25 metre Marconi-rigged schooner. Designed by the renowned naval architecture firm, Sparkman & Stephens and built in Hong Kong in 1937.
The prizegiving for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez will takes place on Sunday 3 October at 11am at La Citadelle, the 16th century fortress overlooking the Golfe de Saint-Tropez.Share this: