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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez: Racing concludes

October 04, 2011

Written by Chelsea

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.

Sailing yacht AVEL - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht AVEL - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht AVEL - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht AVEL - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

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!

AVEL at the dockside - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

AVEL at the dockside - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

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.

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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez: Rolex Trophy starts to unfold

October 04, 2011

Written by Chelsea

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is notable for the diverse fleet of boats and superyachts that turn up each September on the Cote d’Azur for a week of racing. Nearly half the fleet of 300 modern and classic boats is sailing in the Tradition/Classic classes.

The Tradition fleet is made up of 130 boats spread across several classes including: the 15 Meter class, Grand Epoque, Epoque Marconi, Epoque Aurique, Classique Marconi, and the diminutive Tofinou, the modern French-built day-sailer.

Les Voiles des St Tropez Race start  - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Les Voiles des St Tropez Race start - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

For the Tradition class, boats must be built prior to 1975, though most of them are quite a bit older. Loosely translated the époque boats are the older, vintage boats, while the “classique” are the based on classic designs. All manner of sail plans and rig designs are seen across the fleet represented by “aurique” which is gaff-rigged, “Marconi” which denotes a Bermuda-rig, with a triangular mainsail and a jib.

Since 2006, a special award – The Rolex Trophy – has been presented for traditional boats 16 metres and longer on deck. This year there are 51 yachts in this group, and the Trophy is awarded to the overall low point scorer. The winning boat will receive the Rolex Trophy and a Rolex timepiece. The 2010 winner, Yves-Marie Morault, on the 12-metre Ikra, is back with his crew, including tactician former America’s Cup sailor Sébastien Destremau, to defend the title.

Today’s racing was postponed for several hours as competitors waited for wind – a familiar circumstance this week as a high pressure over southern Europe has produced unusually benign sailing conditions, not typical for a time of year that often sees the mistral. The modern fleet finally got their first race – for the week, while the tradition fleet also got a late start and again a shortened course, as once clear of the gulf the breeze died off. Many boats in both modern and traditional classes retired, when faced with not making the time limit. Results were pending at press time.

Leading overall for the Rolex Trophy after two days of racing (through Thursday) – theoretically the halfway mark in the regatta – were Avel and the two-time prior Rolex Trophy winner, Rowdy.

Sailing yacht ROWDY - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht ROWDY - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht Avel, named after a wind found in Brittany, is striking for her clipper bow and varnished sheerstrake. The gaff cutter measures 57 feet on deck, and with her long, graceful overhangs, stretches to 75 feet overall. Truly from another era, she was originally built in 1896, commissioned by Frenchman Rene Calame to a design by Charles Nicholson, and built at the Camper & Nicholson yard in Gosport, UK. In 1990, she was discovered in a river in southeast England, neglected and in dire need of attention. An Italian purchased Avel and brought her to Harry Spencer’s boatyard in Cowes for, what was, a four-year restoration. In 2010, Avel was awarded the Prix du Yacht Tradition in Saint-Tropez.

Sailing yacht AVEL - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht AVEL - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

The boats standing at the top of the Rolex Trophy leaderboard showcase the range of design and periods of classic yachts on display here. Rowdy is a New York 40 class, designed by Nathanael G. Herreshoff and built at the Herreshoff boatyard in Bristol, Rhode Island. She was built in 1916, one of twelve of these one-designs ordered by the New York Yacht Club.

Standing tied for third is the 15 Metre class,  classic yacht Mariska and the 23 Metre class, S/Y Cambria both Fife-designed and built by Fife in Fairlie, Scotland. S/Y Mariska is one of four 15M class boats restored and racing again; three of them are here in Saint-Tropez.

Sail yacht CAMBRIA - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sail yacht CAMBRIA - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht MARISKA - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht MARISKA - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Tied in fourth place are several boats including White Dolphin and Stormy Weather. White Dolphin was built in 1967 for Sergio Rossi, then a Director of Fiat. The teak and mahogany 73-foot Bermuda ketch was the last sailboat built by Vincenzo Beltrami, at the prestigious shipyard Cantiere San Germani. White Dolphin has sailed in many of the classic yacht races in the Mediterranean, but it is also extremely comfortable and well suited for the extended cruising that she was designed to enjoy.

Stormy Weather is a 54-foot Sparkman & Stephens-designed yawl built in 1934, at the Nevins yard in New York. Launched five years after the famous Dorade, which was the first design from the young Olin Stephens’ hand, Stormy Weather had a long and successful yacht-racing career capped with wins early on in the Transatlantic Race, the Fastnet Race, and the Bermuda Race. At the time of her launching and subsequent successes, she impressed sailors including noted English boat designer, Uffa Fox, whose comments then could echo true today, “Stormy Weather is one of Olin Stephen’s favourite designs and her lines show her to be beamy and powerful, yet very easily driven, and therefore fast. She is exactly the type of vessel favoured by the new American rule for ocean racing, a type that should gladden the hearts of those who go down to the sea in such small ships.”

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is a treasure trove of yachts, some more than one hundred years old, others from more recent eras, many impeccably restored, while others are waiting to be — but all appreciated and enjoyed by the sailors and enthusiasts who gather in the old port to keep the spirit of the past thirty years alive.

Saturday is the final day of racing for all of Les Voiles fleet. First warning signal is 1100 for the Moderns, 1200 for Traditional. On Sunday, the final Prize-giving ceremony will be held at La Citadelle, the 16th century fortress overlooking the Golfe de Saint-Tropez.

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Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez: Challenge Day

October 04, 2011

Written by Chelsea

Midweek in St Tropez is traditionally a layday for the modern fleet, and sort of a busman’s holiday for the classic fleet. Challenge Day has one ‘featured’ race of the day, and a host of other informal challenges were struck for match races between competitors, solely for bragging rights.  This year, the Club 55 Cup match was between 2 superyachts designed by William Fife III – the 140-foot 19 Metre Class, sailing yacht Mariquita and the 128-foot gaff schooner Altair.

Sailing yacht MARIQUITA and CAMBRIA Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht MARIQUITA and CAMBRIA Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Following tradition, the Club 55 Cup race course had a start off St Tropez, from the Tour du Portalet, around La Nioulargue buoy to the finish line off Club 55 on the beach in Pampelonne. After finishing, the crews transfer to the beachside restaurant for lunch, with the losing skipper hosting the drinks.

Racing along with the pair from the “big boat” fleet was the 12metre Ikra, one of the two competitors from the original match race that started La Nioulargue, the predecessor to Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez back in the fall of 1981. The other boat was the Swan 44, Pride, owned by American Dick Jayson. The boat and enthusiastic skipper competed right through 1995, and even returned for the 20th reunion in 2001. Eventually, the family sold the boat about six years ago, and Jayson is now in his late 80s.

Sailing yacht TUIGA and MARISKA - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht TUIGA and MARISKA - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Pride was scheduled to be in St Tropez for the 30th anniversary from its new homeport in Sicily, Italy, but was cancelled due to weather. Fortunately, family reinforcements were on hand: son Bill Jayson and his wife, Anne, were in St Tropez to represent the elder Jayson. As were Patrick Almere and Sebastian Le Ber, President of the nearby Yacht Club de Porquerolles, and both local sailors who were part of the original Pride crew.

Bill Jayson, reflecting on his father’s participation said, “Age took its measure and he really was not able to sail competitively anymore, so he stopped. But we have great memories of sailing here with my dad, and the way he made friends with the people here. Patrice de Colmont (from Club 55) was really the person that got things going after the first race. They thought ‘this was so much fun, let’s invite some more boats… and then we’ll invite some more boats’, and it just keep getting bigger and bigger. It was certainly fun to tag along with my father all these years.”

For other boats, both modern and traditional, about a dozen individual challenges were made, with the planned course 6.5 nautical miles. One pair, which showcased the famous American design firm, Sparkman & Stephens, was the match between the yawl-rigs Skylark, 53 feet, and Argyll, 57 feet. Both are great examples of Olin Stephens impeccable eye: Skylark (1937), is owned by Tara Getty, and Argyll (1948) by the Welsh comedian and actor, Griff Rhys Jones.

Classic yacht NAN OF FIFE Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Classic yacht NAN OF FIFE Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

This years’ Les Voiles marks the debut of Skylark in Mediterranean waters.  The boat only arrived in June, having been shipped from Newport, Rhode Island, where it spent the last eight years going through an on again/off again refit. Fortunately, its’ pedigree – a near sister-ship to the well-known Stormy Weather – and condition warranted attention and ultimately an American owner invested the resources to ensure a thorough refit by classic yacht restoration specialists, LMI Newport and East Passage Boatwrights.

Getty owns the impeccable 100-foot motor yacht, Blue Bird, a classic beauty, and he clearly has an eye and appreciation for period yachts. Blue Bird was built in 1938 for Sir Malcolm Campbell, an English racing motorist who held the world speed record on land and on water during the 1920s and 1930s using vehicles called Blue Bird.  For the match against Argyll, Getty put up the Blue Bird Cup, a striking sterling silver trophy that was awarded to Campbell in 1938 for setting a land speed record.

No stranger to Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Getty raced every year on boats he chartered with friends. Meanwhile, he kept looking for a suitable sailing yacht, one from an era similar to Blue Bird. He searched for two to three years, almost buying another boat that wasn’t quite right, post-war versus pre-war. Getty said,  “Sometime last summer I saw Stormy Weather and I thought, ‘Okay, now I know what I’m looking for’.”

Having only taken delivery of Skylark in June, Getty and family spent July and August cruising in Corsica with Blue Bird and enjoying day sailing on his new S&S yawl. He said, “For me, she’s a perfect size, because if she’s too small, I can’t really have crew living on her comfortably, and if she’s too big she becomes too much of a hassle to sail – like the big gaffers who needs lots of crew. I want minimum crew, so if we go away you only need one person onboard and that’s it.

“So it’s very difficult to find the right boat for that if you’re looking at vintage boats, but quite difficult to tick all the boxes. So far we’ve been quite lucky, the test will be to see how well she’ll race, because as a cruising boat, she’s worked wonderfully – every day we’ve gone out for a couple of hours and have had some lovely, lovely sails.”

Given that this is Skylark’s first regatta this year, the results seem less important than the joy in finding such a gem, Getty adds, “We have a really strong crew and none of us are really professionals: friends, and friends of friends, and my family. I don’t want to do a full professional thing, it’s not what we’re gunning for. This is our first event this year and it’s wonderful to finally be doing it on your own boat, even though Skylark is not very big compared to some of the boats we’ve been sailing on. This is her first time in Europe, so it must be causing a bit of interest because it’s another Sparkman & Stephens come over (from the US), very similar to Stormy Weather, Dorade, and Sonny…the famous ones. She’s not been seen in Europe.”

The race between Skylark and Argyll was closely fought in the fickle breeze. While Skylark led most of the way around the course, Rhys Jones and his crew on Argyll picked the shifts well, managing to sail into more breeze on the last leg and finished in front of Argyll to win the Blue Bird Cup.

Tara Getty (SKYLARK), Griff Rhys Jones (ARGYLL) and André Beaufils with the Blue Bird Cup for their challenge match race Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Tara Getty (SKYLARK), Griff Rhys Jones (ARGYLL) and André Beaufils with the Blue Bird Cup for their challenge match race Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

New this year was the Centenary Trophy, a race for traditional boats over one hundred years old (built prior to 29 October 1911), hosted by the Gstaad Yacht Club. With the very light southeasterly breeze over the gulf of St Tropez, the course was eventually shortened, with 15 boats managing to finish. Placing first overall was the 44-foot Bonafide, a “5 tonner” class originally built in 1899, then rebuilt and relaunched in 2003.

At Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, the Rolex Trophy is a competition within the tradition/classic classes for all boats 16 metres and longer on deck. The winning boat will receive the Rolex Trophy and a Rolex timepiece. First awarded in 2006, this year over 50 boats are eligible.  The winner from 2010, Yves-Marie Morault, on the 12-metre Ikra, is back to defend.

Racing continues Friday and Saturday for both Traditional and Modern classes. First warning signal is 1100 for the Moderns, 1200 for Traditional. On Sunday the final Prizgiving ceremony will be held at La Citadelle, the 16th century fortress overlooking the Golfe de Saint-Tropez.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2011 Event Programme

Sunday, 25 September: Welcome for Modern yachts

Monday, 26 September: Welcome for Traditional yachts; Racing for Modern yachts

Tuesday, 27 September: Modern and Traditional yacht racing

Wednesday, 28 September: Modern and Traditional yacht racing

Thursday, 29 September: Challenge Day (match racing); Club 55 Cup between Mariquita & Altair;   Centenary Trophy (yachts over 100 years old)

Friday, 30 September: Modern and Traditional yacht racing

Saturday, 1 October: Modern and Traditional yacht racing

Sunday, 2 October: 11am, Prizegiving Ceremony at La Citadelle

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Les Voiles de Saint Tropez: Over 100 classic sailing yachts on stage in Saint-Tropez

September 29, 2011

Written by Chelsea

There could not be a more impressive fleet of classic boats then the more than 100 sailing yachts racing this week at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. It’s an armada that showcases designers from the golden ages of yachting history: among them, Herreshoff, Fife, Sparkman & Stephens, Rhodes, Mylne, and Alden. The summer-like conditions that prevailed on the Golfe of St Tropez outside of the old port featured plenty of blue sky, an unseasonably hot sun, and light breeze.

Start of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2011 - Photo Credit Carlo Borlenghi ©

Start of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2011 - Photo Credit Carlo Borlenghi ©

Racing was schedule for 12noon, and after an hour’s postponement, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez race committee managed to find enough wind in the starting area to send the fleet on a short nine-nautical mile coastal race, once the easterly breeze filled in to about five knots. It was enough to get nine classes off the line in five starts – first the smaller gaff-rigged and Marconi classes and through to the “grand époque” big boats with stunners such as the 167-foot (51m) overall Herreshoff schooner Elena, the 19-metre class (110 feet overall) Mariquita, the Fife-designed gaff cutter 115-footer Moonbeam IV, and the 23-metre class, Cambria.

Even given the nearly half mile starting line for the twelve big boats, Mariquita, Tuiga, and Moonbeam were in a group that proved intent on the favoured committee boat end. Alone towards the pin end was Cambria, which found more pressure on the northern side of the gulf. Elena was safely just behind the first starters, but her towering sail plan made the most of the challenging conditions and allowed her to quickly gain on the others.

Most boats, having left the gulf and cleared the Porte Seiche mark, found the breeze clocking towards the south which allowed a mix of running sails to be set: spinnakers, fishermen, topsails. Further along the coast, the wind went painfully light, and the fleet compressed around the leeward mark off the town of Issambres. From there it was a beat upwind until they could lay the mark of Porte Seiche and then ease sheets for a reach towards the finish in a slighter fresher breeze. They were the lucky ones – for several of the bigger boat classes, the course was shortened and a finish line set off Porte Seiche.

Sailing yacht Oriole at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2011 -  Photo Credit Carlo Borlenghi ©

Sailing yacht Oriole at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2011 - Photo Credit Carlo Borlenghi ©

Given the weight differential with this range of classics, certain boats fared better in the light conditions: two-time Rolex Trophy winner (2008 & 2009) NY 40 Rowdy for one. Skipper Graham Walker knows his way around the race course here. This time around, Walker has turned the tiller over to his new co-owner Nick Barham. An Englishman from Monaco, who has extensive experience racing in the competitive Sydney 38 one-design class, Barham is clearly thrilled to be competing in St Tropez, “It was a very difficult start, very tight on the start line, but we managed to get some clean air.  Got up to first mark and slipped away with the wind, fantastic…perfect conditions for us, and a wonderful sail. After the leeward mark, we hung up to windward until we had about twenty degrees off the mark we had to come inside. Then we picked up a whole new breeze coming down towards the finish. The crew performed superbly.”

Rowdy will again be a force to be reckoned at Les Voiles this week as the 1916 Herreshoff sloop is coming off a successful season, with wins at Antibes, Porto Rotondo and Monaco. The crew is pretty much the same as prior years with some family members having come on as well, though Barham said “we’re not de-professionalizing it, but making it a little more social than before.”

The Rolex Trophy is a competition within the Tradition division for all boats over 16 metres on deck. The winning boat receives the Rolex Trophy and a Rolex timepiece. First awarded in 2006, this year over 50 boats are eligible for the Trophy.  Defending winner from 2010 is Yves-Marie Morault’s 12-metre Ikra.

Racing continues tomorrow for both Traditional and Modern classes. First warning signal is 1100 for the Moderns, 1200 for Traditional.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2011 Event Programme

Sunday, 25 September: Welcome for Modern yachts

Monday, 26 September: Welcome for Traditional yachts; Racing for Modern yachts

Tuesday, 27 September: Modern and Traditional yacht racing

Wednesday, 28 September: Modern and Traditional yacht racing

Thursday, 29 September: Challenge Day (match racing); Club 55 Cup between Mariquita & Altair; Centenary Trophy (yachts over 100 yrs + longer than 16 metres)

Friday, 30 September: Modern and Traditional yacht racing

Saturday, 1 October: Modern and Traditional yacht racing

Sunday, 2 October: 11am, Prizegiving Ceremony at La Citadelle

Anna Maria Gregorini

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Les Voiles de Saint Tropez celebrates 30 years

September 27, 2011

Written by Chelsea

The sailing calendar for classic yachts in the Mediterranean includes stops in idyllic ports including Antibes, Monaco, and Cannes. But it is the finale in St Tropez that is the not-to-be-missed conclusion for classic and modern yachts alike. This year Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez – which began life as La Nioulargue – marks the 30th running of this prestigious event. The nearly 300-boat regatta brings together the finest collection of traditional yachts (vintage and spirit of tradition), as well as the other end of the spectrum: modern high-performance racers.  Today was the first scheduled day of racing for the Modern fleet, with the light 6-8 knot conditions on the Golfe de St Tropez causing a delayed start, all classes managed one race today. Racing for the Tradition classes begins tomorrow.

Unique ambiance during the event at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez Photo credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Unique ambiance during the event at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez Photo credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Les Voiles’ fleet is divided into Modern and Traditional; with almost 200 boats, the Modern classes make up the majority. Boats such as Mike Slade’s 100-foot (30 metre) super maxi Leopard 3, which held the monohull course record in the Rolex Fastnet Race until this year; the impeccably restored 1930s-era J-Class Shamrock; Swan yachts from the popular one-design Swan 42 to the Swan 112 sailing yacht Highland Breeze, as well as a good showing from the Wally yachts of 80 – 130 footers.

Sailing yacht Elena - Photo Credit Alessandro Spiga YCCS

Sailing yacht Elena - Photo Credit Alessandro Spiga YCCS

But it is the Traditional fleet – 84-strong this year – that impresses. The “grande dame” of the fleet is the 136-foot (41.5m) Herreshoff schooner Elena. She is not alone among yachts over the 100-foot mark, joined by Cambria, the Fife-designed 23m class sloop; the Herreshoff schooner, Mariette of 1915, and the Fife gaff schooner, Altair, which raced successfully for nearly 50 years before being brought back to impeccable condition in 1985 at Fairlie Restorations in the UK. Rounding out the ‘bigger’ boat fleet is the more recently launched Sunshine, built in out of teak and rosewood in Myanmar.

Equally impressive are the 15-meter class yachts, the elegant Tuiga (1909) and Mariska (1908). Though 15 meters (50 feet) on the waterline, with their long bow and stern overhangs and bowsprit, they stretch to 90 stunning feet overall. Along with these two is the recently re-launched Fife III-designed 15-meter Hispania, originally built for the King of Spain in 1909 – but unfortunately the Spanish boat had to withdraw from Les Voiles.

The idea for La Nioulargue is a now legendary story that took place in 1981 at Club 55, Patrice de Colmont’s ultra-chic beach bar and restaurant on Pampelonne Beach. It began as a casual barroom bet between the 12-metre Ikra, skippered by Jean Laurin and Pride, a Swan 44 owned by Dick Jayson, an American who was cruising in the Mediterranean at that time. Three decades later the regatta endures, with tweaks and fine-tuning along the way. In the late 1990s, La Niolargue morphed into Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez and its popularity has only grown. Ikra still competes here. Now owned by Frenchman Yves-Marie Morault, the 12-metre won the Rolex Trophy in 2010 and Morault and crew are back this year to defend.

The Rolex Trophy is a competition within the Tradition division for all boats over 16 metres on deck. The winning boat receives the Rolex Trophy and a Rolex timepiece. First awarded in 2006, this year more than 50 boats are eligible for the Trophy, among these Graham Walker’s two-time winner Rowdy, a Herreshoff-designed New York 40. Past Rolex Trophy 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).

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 Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez (SNST), organizer for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, hosts a number of regattas during the season including the Rolex Giraglia Cup. Though Les Voiles, with its incredible mix of the old and new, is unique and continues to attract yachts for what is to many competitors, their end of season rendezvous. André Beaufils, Chairman of Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, offered, “For all regattas organized by the SNST our credo is: being serious on the water and conviviality on land.  These are already the two important things. And then I think the Port of St Tropez attracts a lot of people. We are lucky to have the port inside the village, a charming village. At the same time we have an expanse of water that allows great racing. All this together contributes to the success.”

With five days of racing planned, there is an equal amount of entertainment onshore. The overriding theme is fully festive, as the French do so well, with local marching bands featuring as prominently as sophisticated cocktail parties. Crews, in full costume, take part in the crew parade, a boules (lawn bowling) competition in the central square of Les Place de Lices, where each team ‘adopts’ a local boules expert to guide them in the nuances of the game, as well as music every night, along with generous amounts of the uniquely local foods, such as tartiflette and a sardine barbecue.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez Fleet - Photo Credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez Fleet - Photo Credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

The fleet provides an international mix from France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, and Malta, among others. Given that the bigger yachts race with crews of 20-30, the port is awash with over 3,500 sailors, friends and family, creating a great camaraderie as many reconnect from prior regattas. Mixed in with a collection of mainly amateur sailors are the professional crews including competitors from the America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and other grand-prix events.

The classical and traditional themes embodied by Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, follow on fittingly from the ethos of another Rolex-supported event: the Goodwood Revival, an annual three-day motor-sport extravaganza that takes place each September. While the former showcases the finest in Mediterranean yachting, including a collection of lovingly-maintained classic and traditional yachts of 16 metres and over competing in the Rolex Trophy, the latter is a nostalgic gathering of vintage cars from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, reliving the glory days of the historic Goodwood Motor Circuit. Both Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez and the Goodwood Revival provide unique opportunities for enthusiasts to take a fascinating journey back in time, immerse themselves in the spirit of yesteryear, while admiring the elegance and designs inspired by the era.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2011 Event Programme
Sunday, 25 September: Welcome for Modern yachts
Monday, 26 September: Welcome for Traditional yachts; Racing for Modern yachts
Tuesday, 27 September: Modern and Traditional yacht racing
Wednesday, 28 September: Modern and Traditional yacht racing
Thursday, 29 September: Challenge Day (match racing); Club 55 Cup between Mariquita & Altair; Centenary Trophy (yachts over 100 years)
Friday, 30 September: Modern and Traditional yacht racing
Saturday, 1 October: Modern and Traditional yacht racing
Sunday, 2 October: 11am, Prizegiving Ceremony at La Citadelle

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Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2011: The Sardinian showcase

September 05, 2011

Written by Chelsea

Tuesday marks the start of racing at the eagerly-anticipated 2011 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. A typically extravagant week is in store: the 47-strong multinational fleet present at this year’s regatta is the second largest in the event’s history. These multifarious crews arrive on the back of some starkly contrasting seasons. Having tackled offshore endurance events such as the Giraglia Rolex Cup and the Rolex Fastnet Race, the campaign has been intense and, at times, gruelling for certain crews. For others, the build up to the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has been less strenuous and the sole focus has been to arrive in Porto Cervo, Sardinia in prime condition. One common theme unites all sailors in attendance: the desire to totally immerse themselves in the tantalising courses and scenery that penetrate the Costa Smeralda.

Porto Cervo, Sardinia - Photo By Rolex  Daniel Forster

Porto Cervo, Sardinia - Photo By Rolex Daniel Forster

The week in numbers

Racing takes place from 6-10 September and the 47 expected entrants is just shy of last year’s record of 49 yachts. Another impressive gathering for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), event organiser, in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA). The Mini Maxis (yachts from 18.29-24.08 metres) make up 17 of this year’s fleet and will compete in the second running of the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship. This Championship comprises a maximum of eight races, with a scheduled minimum of four windward/leeward races and two coastal races of no more than 70-nautical miles.

The other Maxi categories are equally well represented, comprising 21 Maxi yachts (those from 24.09-30.5m) and nine Supermaxis (yachts in excess of 30.5m). Included in these figures, is a healthy array of 14 Wally yachts. For these classes the maximum number of races is seven, featuring a selection of coastal and windward/leeward courses.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2010 Coastal Race - Photo By Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2010 Coastal Race - Photo By Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Worlds in motion

The 72-foot Shockwave (USA) finished third at the inaugural Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds. That was under previous owner Neville Crichton. New owner, George Sakellaris, took possession shortly after and the handover was seamless as Reggie Cole, the boat captain, explains: “No major changes have taken place since last year aside from a change in sail makers and reconfiguring our sail plan somewhat. Many of our crew have participated at the Maxis before (including Sakellaris) and we maintain a core group who have done many events on this boat, including Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Key West Race Week, the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta and recently the Copa del Rey. We are anticipating a strong field and may the best team win.” At last year’s Rolex-sponsored Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Shockwave competed against both Rán (GBR) and Jethou (GBR), opponents in this year’s Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds.

Rán arrives in confident mood. Niklas Zennström’s 72-footeris fresh from claiming the overall prize at the Rolex Fastnet Race. No mean feat in itself: only Rán’s triumph marked a first back-to-back success at the event in over fifty years. What is more, as defending Mini Maxi Rolex World Champion, Rán starts off the coming week as the yacht to beat.

In 2010 Rán narrowly ousted Andres Soriano’s Alegre (GBR). A year on, the Mills 68 remains a highly competitive opponent. Alegre claimed a clean sweep of prizes at May’s  Rolex Volcano Race. These two crews are likely to be run close by Sir Peter Ogden’s 60-ft Jethou (GBR), another crew well-versed in the Porto Cervo sailing scene. Long-serving afterguard member, Ian Budgen, explains the crew’s approach to the event: “Preparations have been going well, and as a crew we feel completely ready to give our best. This regatta is the highlight of the racing season, so the earlier events are used to continually improve Jethou’s performance.”

It is often said that the Costa Smeralda offers the ‘perfect sailing package’ and Budgen is in agreement: “Porto Cervo is a fantastic place to sail and rated as one of the best in the world, with a mix of wind speeds, hot climate, crystal clear waters and stunning scenery. Unique are the coastal courses which comprise many islands to race around and through, making it very difficult for tacticians and navigators to plan the most efficient route coping with the diversity of the changing wind and rocky shorelines.” Jethou clearly mean business. In a rare turn up for this usually British crew, Brad Butterworth of New Zealand is onboard as tactician.

Only two yachts in attendance are smaller than Jethou, the Italian pair Good Job Guys and OPS5 and the rest of the field has a certain Italian flavour with another six ‘homegrown’ crews in attendance. Additional overseas presence is provided by Allsmoke (GBR), Arobas (FRA), Caol Ila (USA), Vertical Smile (DEN) and Whisper (IRL)

High and mighty

At the more powerful end of the scale, this year’s event boasts two magnificent and gigantic craft: Albert Buell’s 148-ft Saudade (GER) is an arm’s length larger than compatriot Hasso Plattner’s 147-ft Visione. They enjoyed a fascinating tussle last year. Meanwhile, competing for the first time is the F-class, one-design Firefly (NED), a 114-ft Supermaxi designed to perform in both heavy and light winds. She made her on-the-water debut at the recent Superyacht Cup in Palma, but has had little time to apply the lessons learnt, as Mark van Gelderen takes up: “We made some changes and improvements to the boat following the Superyacht Cup. No real training has taken place with the whole crew before our arrival in Porto Cervo, sothe three days leading up to the event will be used for training, crew work and sail testing.”

The Firefly crew is divided between those who will be competing in Sardinia for the first time and more experienced members, well-acquainted with the waters off Porto Cervo. “The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is our first chance to line up with comparable boats and to see what Firefly is capable of,” continues van Gelderen, “we will not be 100%, as we need more sailing hours, but we will have a good idea of Firefly’s performance when the event is over. Besides that we will be enjoying the high level of sailing in one of the most beautiful waters of the world.”

Italian eyes will be cast on the brand-new 101-ft Comet Shadow (ITA), another Supermaxi competitor. Shadow, with a hull and deck designed for fast cruising, comprises twin cockpits, one for sail-control handling and the second for guests to relax. And, whilst her rigging is traditional stainless steel rod, her mast is a racier carbon-fibre structure.

The 100-ft sailing yacht Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) is strong favourite to defend the Maxi crown - Photo Credit Esimit Europa 2

The 100-ft sailing yacht Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) is strong favourite to defend the Maxi crown - Photo Credit Esimit Europa 2

The 100-ft Esimit Europa 2 (SLO) is strong favourite to defend the Maxi crown. As owner Igor Simčič reveals, the yacht’s pan-European team have been studying hard for the event: “The crew have been getting ready for the Maxis by taking their time to discuss tactics and strategy together: the coastal races are all very specific and need proper preparation. We have carefully checked all courses, sea levels and weather specifics for this region. The crew went through all the list of competitors, analysing their strengths and weaknesses.” It is the sort of meticulous preparation that exemplifies Esimit Europa 2’s year of sustained success.

The Giraglia Rolex Cup line honours winners are already training in Porto Cervo. “The crew will be practicing specific manoeuvres and testing technical features that they might be using for the first time at this regatta,” continues Simčič, “a peculiar feature of racing in Porto Cervo is the wind, which is often very strong. In addition, the sea level varies very much and can thus be very tricky and even dangerous – that’s one of the main reasons why manoeuvres need to be very accurate and very fast.”

On The Agenda

Racing commences on Tuesday 6 September and concludes on Saturday 10 September. Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, along with the IMA and title sponsor Rolex, will provide a lavish array of first class social events including Saturday’s final Prize Giving Ceremony, where the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup trophies and Rolex timepieces will be awarded.)

Giles Pearman

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Les Voiles de Saint Tropez 2011: Thirty years on: the ‘Nioulargue spirit” is honoured

September 02, 2011

Written by Chelsea

Over four thousand crew are preparing to do battle from 24 September at the 13th edition of Les Voiles. They will be racing aboard three hundred of the finest futuristic yachts and the most elegant traditional yachts on the planet. The event will be run in the exceptional setting of the bay of Saint Tropez, bathed in light and swept by the lovely breeze of early autumn. The Société Nautique de Saint Tropez, which has presided over the organisation since 1999 with the close collaboration of the Town, wishes to honour the spirit of the event for this the thirtieth anniversary of the original Nioulargue: seamanship, fair play on the water and on shore, coloured by good humour and some brand new features, will all spice up what is set to be a remarkable edition.

Saint-Tropez France

Saint-Tropez France

The breath of the Nioulargue

“We’d like everyone to remember, or learn, how the Nioulargue came about” points out André Beaufils, President of the Société Nautique, “when in 1981, Patrice de Colmont demonstrated his familiar intuition in the creation of a no stakes regatta between a group of friends who had come together for the end of the summer, prior to the following sailing season.” Initially christened the “Club 55 Cup”, the event was contested by two boats, Ikra and Pride, both of which are scheduled to race in the Var region’s port some thirty years on! From these beginnings as a duel, the event adopted the name Nioulargue. Hailing from the Provençal “Nioulargo” – literally “Offshore nest”- after an area of shallow water situated 5 miles from the bay of Pampelonne and serving as a haven for the reproduction of numerous species of Mediterranean fish. It is also very interesting to note that it was this original race between a 12mJI classic and a modern racer which coloured the Nioulargue’s character. It went on to become Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, which is synonymous with getting together boats from the latest generation and those which have written the history of yachting on the same race zone.

Modern craft: more than 50 yachts measuring over 18 metres

Thirty years on from the original event, the success of the event’s formula has been unfailing!

Fleet at the start of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2010 - Photo credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi.

Fleet at the start of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2010 - Photo credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi.

Among the superyachts, the Wally Yachts have become a ‘trademark’ not to be ignored at Les Voiles over the past ten years or so. These prestigious craft, commonly manoeuvred by crews of 25, were created by Luca Bassani’s team and really create a stir both in port and on the water. This year all eyes will be on Inti (24 metres) – the former Indio – a title smasher at Palma Vela, which is likely to rank as favourite in the racing at Saint Tropez. Playing opposite her will be Magic Carpet 2 (28m80) – which is competing in her last season as we await the arrival of the very first Wally Cento (100 feet) on order for next year -, the giant sailing yacht Esense (44m) as well as Angel’s Share – the former Wally 130 – entirely revamped at the owner’s request and set to compete in Les Voiles in her new anthracite hull livery.

Wally 130 Sailing yacht Angel's Share - Credit Wally Yachts

Wally 130 Sailing yacht Angel's Share - Credit Wally Yachts

Among the most popular Maxis, the duel between Sojana (35m – Farr 115) and Rambler 100 (30m – Reichel Pugh) mid-Atlantic won’t unfortunately be echoed in Saint Tropez. Indeed the 100 footer skippered by Australian Mick Harvey unfortunately capsized mid-August, near the Fastnet Rock, having lost her keel. Peter Harrison’s Farr 115 will have to console herself by competing with the brand new Firefly, a Dutch 115 footer created by Hoek Design and built in 2011 at the Jachtbouw yard.

As regards the series boats, all the major French and overseas yards will be present at Les Voiles. Leading the way is Bénéteau, with thirty Firsts, including five First 45s of under three years of age, closely followed by Nautor Swan which is to have a new 90 footer on the start line this year in the form of sailing yacht Nefertiti. At Dufour meantime, the most recent craft is a French 45 footer, Cristeban. There’s also going to be some fierce battling among the Grand Soleils, X Yachts, Archambauds and Baltics, which each boast at least half a dozen entries.

Traditional craft: a record in excess of 115 boats expected

Among the traditional craft the major event in 2011 is unquestionably the arrival of Hispania. This gaff cutter features two unique qualities in that it is one of the most beautiful craft from the golden age of yachting to be designed by William Fife, as well as belonging to the ‘royal’ 15 m JI class. Built in 1909 on the order of HRH the King of Spain Alphonso XIII, this 23 metre long boat first enjoyed success during the numerous international races her owners had her compete in, whilst simultaneously enhancing the prestige of the Spanish regattas as major sights for the yachting world. However, her glorious past and her royal origins were to fade little by little, until such time as she sank into oblivion. Indeed she was used as a floating house in England for more than thirty years. She was in a pitiful state when she was found some 15 years ago in mud flats by the historian William Collier and Jonathan Syrett of Camper and Nicholson International. Thanks to the participation of the Real Fundacion Hispania, the cutter, whose hull was buried in mud and no longer had a keel, was transported to Fairlie Restorations on the Hamble River, England, which began the complete restoration of the hull prior to its transfer to the shipyards of Majorca. As a result Hispania will be at Les Voiles this year for the very first time and she’ll complete the Carré d’Or for the 15 m JIs as she does battle with the illustrious Tuiga from the Yacht Club de Monaco, Mariska and The Lady Anne. Three of these exceptional yachts** will notably form part of the first edition of the centenarians’ race organised in collaboration with the Société Nautique de Saint Tropez and the Yacht Club de Gstaad on Thursday 29 September.

Built in 1937 from Olin Stephens plans, Manitou (18m90) is a very elegant Marconi yawl, whose claim to fame was that she was used by John F. Kennedy during his presidency. Indeed the yacht even had the title “Floating White House”. Kitted out with all the lastest technologies of the time, she enabled the President of the United States to stay in touch with land during his sails along the western seaboard. Having continued her career as a training school, the boat underwent a thorough refit in 2010 and will be making her very first appearance in Les Voiles.

Another yawl, but a very rare gaff yawl this time, will also be present in the bay. Built in 1918 at the Nielsen yard in Denmark, Runa IV (10m73) cannot deny its Viking origins. This wooden racer with its long keel was saved from destruction in 2009 by Yves Carcelle, who brought her back from San Francisco to have her entirely restored at the Guip yard in Brest. Bruno Troublé, who followed the whole project, will be her skipper for Les Voiles de Saint Tropez where the boat’s characteristic outline – bowsprit and dolphin striker – won’t go unnoticed. It may even be that Elisabeth Meyer, the American owner who drove the restoration of Endeavour, will be aboard for some of the races in Saint Tropez.

Among the ‘newcomers’ we’re also keenly awaiting Skylark (16m), an elegant yawl designed by Stephens in 1937, which is a boat restored by Tara Getty, a descendant of the Getty dynasty. Other splendid restorations by her include the motor yacht Blue Bird as well as Palynodie II (12m), one of the first mainstays in the saga of racing yachts belonging to the famous Mayor of Marseille, Gaston Defferre.

Alongside the impressive number of representatives of varying sizes and types of boats retracing the metric measurement through history – around twenty in total from 6 M to 8 M, 10 M,12 M, 15 M, 19 M and 23 M, with gaff and Bermuda rigs -, connoisseurs will appreciate the presence of one of the very pretty fleet of six 30m2 craft. Indeed these ‘little’ boats span a dozen metres and are very sleek combined with a large sail area, which makes them particularly spectacular on the race course.

Also of note is the fact that Les Voiles will this year play host to a fleet of around twenty Tofinou 9m50s, the dayboats designed by Michel Joubert and built by the Latitude yard in Saint-Martin de Ré off La Rochelle. Given the sizeable fleet, they will enjoy their own courses and their own ranking.

* 4,240 is the number of participants as of 30 August 2011: 2,500 modern craft, 1,400 traditional craft, 200 Wallys and 150 Tofinous

**The Lady Anne dates back to 1912

Partners to Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

ROLEX, WALLY, KAPPA, SILLINGER, VAN DUTCH, La REGION PACA, SERIE LIMITEE / LES ECHOS, PARIS PREMIERE, CNN INTERNATIONAL, HOTEL BYBLOS, LES MARINES DE COGOLIN, RODRIGUEZ GROUP, L’ESPRIT VILLAGE DES COMMERCANTS DE SAINT-TROPEZ, WINDREICH, QUESTIONS DE MARQUE

PROGRAMME

CLASSIC YACHTS
Sunday 25 and Monday 26 September: Reception and scrutineering
Sunday 25 September: arrival of the Yacht Club de France’s Autumn Cup from Cannes
Tuesday 27 September, Wednesday 28, Thursday 29 (J. Laurain Day, Challenge Day, Club 55 Cup), Friday 30 and Saturday 1 October Coastal course, 1st start 1200 hours

MODERN YACHTS
Saturday 24 September – Sunday 25: Reception and scrutineering
Monday 26, Tuesday 27, Wednesday 28, Thursday 29 (J. Laurain Day, Challenge Day), Friday 30 and Saturday 1 October: Coastal course, 1st start 1130 hours

General prize-giving for all
Sunday 2 October, from 1100 hours

DRAGON SAINT TROPEZ
Monday 3, Tuesday 4, Wednesday 5 October: Reception, launches and scrutineering
Thursday 6, Friday 7, Saturday 8: Racing in the bay
Saturday 8: prize-giving

Below is a selection of images of Wally Sailing Yachts currently in charter.


Go here to find out more about chartering Wally Yachts.

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Nautor’s Swan Announces ClubSwan Caribbean Rendezvous Dates for March 2012

September 02, 2011

Written by Chelsea

Nautors Swan is looking ahead to their Cruising Rendezvous Programme next year with the official release of dates for the 2012 ClubSwan Caribbean Rendezvous. This will be the 9th annual Caribbean based Rendezvous for the internationally renowned luxury sailing yacht manufacturer. Dates for 2012 are from the 12th through to the 17th March with the Rendezvous kicking off from the Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands.

9th ClubSwan Caribbean Rendezvous, British Virgin Islands, 12 to 17 March 2011

9th ClubSwan Caribbean Rendezvous, British Virgin Islands, 12 to 17 March 2011

Six days of uninterrupted enjoyment based cruising is top priority within an agenda that is expected to attract Swan owners the world over. The Rendezvous style is the perfect opportunity to invite friends and family to get into the Swan Spirit and to experience the sheer joy of cruising in one of the most sought after yachting regions of the globe.

With four islands set to visit there will be plenty of sailing time for the committed yachter as well as ample down time to partake in wider water based activities. It is the ideal chance to try diving and snorkelling in pristine turquoise waters that are not only clear but warm to the touch.

Friendly competition is also an option within the Rendezvous family taking the form of low key dinghy racing and games of boules. Those preferring to rest privately and relax in the sunshine are also fully catered to within the programme.

Evening entertainment for guests aiming to absorb moonlit nights is not forgotten. Live music, casual dining and drinks parties are all set in stunning beach locations.

March is one of the driest months on the British Virgin Islands making it the perfect time of year for a Rendezvous. The trade winds offer a steady breeze which will take the Swan fleet calmly from island to island throughout the structured cruise and participants can relax safe in the knowledge that they are safe in the hands of the experienced Nautor’s Swan management.

Further details to be released shortly regarding the 2012 ClubSwan Caribbean Rendezvous.

See here for more info and images on Nautors Swan sailing yachts available for charter.

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Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup returns for its 22nd edition in Porto Cervo

September 01, 2011

Written by Chelsea

The Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup returns for its 22nd edition in Porto Cervo. The renowned regatta organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in collaboration with partner Rolex will take place from 5th to 10th September when 46 of the world’s largest and most competitive maxi racing yachts are expected to do battle on the waters off Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda. Sixteen of the participating yachts will compete in the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship 2011 which takes place within the traditional Maxi event.

Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo.

Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo.

The fleet of yachts, which range from 18 to 45 metres in length, will be divided into various divisions according to their size and technical characteristics and will race off Porto Cervo for five days, with no lay day scheduled this year. The Mini Maxi fleet (yachts from 18.29 to 24.08 metres) includes many strong candidates for the title of World Champion including Niklas Zennström’s Rán 2, winner of the title in 2010 and fresh from overall victory in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2010. Photo Carlo BorlenghiRolex.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2010. Photo Carlo BorlenghiRolex.

The remaining 30 maxi yachts racing in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, which have an average length of approximately 30 metres, cover a vast spectrum of designs, models and technological solutions. From new launches such as the prototype for the new F-Class one-design sailing yacht Firefly, the Comet 100 Shadow and the classic Bermudian sloop charter yacht Annagine – all dated 2011 – to veteran competitors such as the 38-metre ketch Hetairos, launched in 1993 and winner of the Supermaxi division in 2010. Following last year’s victory in the Racing and Racing/Cruising division, Esimit Europa 2 owned by Igor Simčič will be looking to repeat their impressive debut performance. The 30 metre Reichel-Pugh sloop, which boasts a crew of top European sailors, recently took line honours in the 2011 Giraglia Rolex Cup.

As always a rich social programme has been organized for owners and crews including a welcome cocktail at the YCCS Clubhouse, a Rolex Gala Dinner and Crew Party and the closing prize giving on the Yacht Club’s Piazza Azzurra.

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Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2011: The bold and the beautiful set for Porto Cervo, Sardinia.

August 04, 2011

Written by Chelsea

Come early September and as the height of the Mediterranean summer season passes with the grace of a fading sunset, the eyes of the sailing world will be focused firmly on one stand-out attraction: the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. This annual meeting of the bold and the beautiful, elegance and finesse, onshore refinement and offshore adventure, takes place in Porto Cervo, Sardinia.

Maxi division sailing yachts head upwind - Photo credit Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Maxi division sailing yachts head upwind - Photo credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

Event organisers the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) are expecting a record presence for the 22nd edition, which takes place from 5-10 September. It represents a trend. Last year’s competition welcomed 49 of the world’s most state-of-the-art yachts. Forty-two yachts from 12 countries and territories have already committed to taking part this time around. Whilst the event’s appeal has always been unquestioned, the growth in popularity of the Mini Maxi yacht and the subsequent birth of the competition within a competition, the Mini Maxi Rolex World Championship (open to yachts from 18.29-24.08 metres), have led to the mushrooming of the regatta. This year promises to be an eye-catching feast.

Irish whispers

Close attention will be paid to the second running of the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds. Whilst the final list of entries is still to be confirmed, several impressive campaigners will be attacking the waters of the Costa Smeralda. Niklas Zennström’s Rán 2 (GBR) and Andres Soriano’s Alegre (GBR) finished first and second last year. Intriguingly, 2010’s third placed yacht is also returning albeit under new ownership. The 72-ft Reichel Pugh Shockwave (USA) has changed hands from serial regatta winner Neville Crichton to George Sakellaris, who previously campaigned the CM60 Captivity. Shockwave has been preparing for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Palma.

Sailing yachts TITAN 15, SHOCKWAVE and RAN - Photo credit Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yachts TITAN 15, SHOCKWAVE and RAN - Photo credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

The crew of Whisper (IRL) have long been captivated by the lure of Porto Cervo. Michael Cotter’s 78-footer has become a fixture at the event and won the Racer/Cruiser division in 2009. The experienced crew have been focused on the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup for quite a while, as captain Mark Dicker explains: “Whisper’s preparations for the Maxis started in January and this will be our sixth participation. We have a good set up and hope to be on top of our game in Porto Cervo. Over the past winter the boat undertook a large refit with the upgrade of many of its racing systems. We then did a ‘shake down’ regatta at Easter in Palma so we feel confident the boat will be in great shape for the Maxis. Currently Whisper is completing a cruising period around Greece before heading back to prepare for the event and two days training.”

The Irish crew, competing in the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, have always performed impressively on the Emerald Coast. Dicker reveals the key to yacht’s success: “The Whisper team have been campaigning the boat for six years with a core crew mostly of Irish sailors, who are happy to keep on coming back. The owner is very competitive, but a laid back approach seems to help the boat stay in good form and even the small handful of professional sailors onboard relish a week’s sailing on Whisper. Certainly the secret to the event is consistency, the conditions around Porto Cervo are very challenging and any mistakes can quickly end a regatta.”

For the crew of Whisper, like many others, the appeal of the event is obvious. “Within the Med there is certainly no other regatta like the Maxis,” closes Dicker, “from the picturesque scenery to the high level of competition returning year after year. Racing up Bomb Alley and round the islands is certainly like no other race course we embark on.” Following on from the Maxis, the Whisper crew will take part at another Rolex supported event – Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.

Sailing yacht RAN, Niklas Zennstrom - Photo credit Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht RAN, Niklas Zennstrom - Photo credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

The rest of the best

Completing the global gathering of competing nations are the Danish crew onboard the 61-ft Vertical Smile, the 78-ft All Smoke (GBR), owned by the German businessman Günter Herz, the 60-ft Arobas (FRA) and Caol Ila (USA), fresh from an impressive performance at the Giraglia Rolex Cup. Sir Peter Ogden’s 60-ft Jethou (GBR) will also be in attendance, having campaigned at both the 2009 and 2010 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.

Italian presence is guaranteed with the involvement of six yachts. Alessandro Rombelli’s Baltic-65 Stig finished second behind Aegir in the Racer/Cruiser division last year. She will face stiff competition from Riccardo de Michele’s H20 and Adriano Calvini’s 61-ft Itacentodue, both race day winners in 2010. Completing the elenco of Italian entrants are the 60-ft Aleph-Aniene 1° Classe, the 61-ft Tyke and Enrico Gorziglia’s Good Job Guys.

Homeward bound

Outside of the Mini Maxi Rolex Worlds, racing will be equally intense in the prestigious and long-established Maxi (24.09-30.5m yachts), Supermaxi (those in excess of 30.5m) and Wally competitions.

The Swan-90 DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA) will compete in the Maxi category and has enjoyed a demanding season in the Mediterranean, taking part in the inaugural Rolex Volcano Race in addition to the Giraglia Rolex Cup, where she was the fifth boat to finish on elapsed time. The yacht has miles in her sails. Fortunately, the Maxis require less travelling for the crew. Owner Danilo Salsi is a member of the YCCS and Porto Cervo happens to be DSK’s crew base. “We like the race area and feel we have good local knowledge,” explains team manager Andrea Casale, “the big challenge for us is to take advantage of this.”

DSK Pioneer Investments triumphed in Porto Cervo at the Rolex Swan Cup in 2010, although the crew realise that repeating their success on the Costa Smeralda in the Maxi division will be a tough challenge. “The Swan Cup was a completely different scenario,” continues Casale, “as we were not competing against the likes of Esimit Europa 2. The yachts in our division this time around will be faster than us on the water so they will be more difficult to beat. We have to be very smart and wise with the tools that we have at our disposal.”

After the gruelling ocean challenges earlier in the season, Casale and the crew are focused on a different type of racing at the Maxis: “We are pleased with the two offshore races, but the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is going to be a very different game. ‘Day racing’ requires more manoeuvring and decision-making in a short space of time. We are adding some new crew members to our standard roster to save time when changing sails. In addition we are ‘tuning’ our rating certificate. Hopefully it will all help.”

Meanwhile, the Wally division is already shaping up to maintain its recent trend of intense battle. Claus-Peter Offen’s Y3K (GER) and Sir Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet (GBR) have winning experience in Porto Cervo although the divisional crown is sure to be contested to the very last nautical mile of the final race. The impressive fleet comprises100-footers Dark Shadow (MON) and Kenora (GBR) as well as slightly more slender but equally impressive campaigners such as Jean Charles Decaux’s J One (GBR), winners in 2007, and Thomas Bscher’s Open Season (ESP).

Sailing yacht ALEGRE, Andres Soriano - Photo credit Rolex  Carlo Borlenghi

Sailing yacht ALEGRE, Andres Soriano - Photo credit Rolex Carlo Borlenghi

On The Agenda

Racing commences on Tuesday 6 September and concludes on Saturday 10 September. Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, along with title sponsor Rolex, will provide a lavish array of first class social events including Saturday’s final Prize Giving Ceremony, where the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cups and Rolex timepieces will be awarded.

YCCS Press Office Jill Campbell

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