Today, April 13, saw the last day of competing at the Les Voiles de St. Barth 2013, marked by lively conditions for the fleet, with 20+ knots of wind whipping up four- to six-foot seas.
The race committee sent the Maxi/Racing, Maxi, and Spinnaker 1 and 2 classes on a 17 nautical mile course along the western side of the island, somewhat protected by the lee of the land but nevertheless providing shifty conditions. Spinnaker 3, Melges 24, Classic, Non-Spinnaker, and Multihull classes sailed a 26 nautical mile course around the islands off the north and east side of St. Barths, fully exposed to the fresh beeze and ocean swell.
The conditions took their toll on a few boats, starting with Team Island Water World (SXM), Fritz Bus’s Melges 24. The Dutch boat was leading its class on the first downwind leg but dismasted when the backstay let go, ending the St. Maarten team’s chances for winning. Several boats blew out spinnakers and headsails, and the 51-foot Augie Neilsen-designed ketch Saphaedra (USA), raced double-handed by skipper Jamie Enos and first mate Amanda Sparks, retired with the skipper explaining, “Too much wind for an old boat!”
In Maxi/Racing, Jim Swartz’s TP52 Vesper extended its string of bullets to win the class. Swartz said, “This week has been pretty typical: constant wind, 15-17 knots, predictable but shifty, with challenging and nice waves on the backside of the island. Kind of a sailor’s paradise; the race committee does a great job, the people are terrific.”
In the Maxi class, the Swan 80 superyacht Selene continued its winning ways, sweeping ahead of charter yacht Whisper and luxury yacht Idea of London (and the Swan 100 superyacht Varsovie, which retired from the regatta after damaging its headstay on the first day of racing).
In the Spinnaker 1 class, the standings going into today were close. Steve Cucchiaro’s Marten 49 Defiance (USA), which had a 1-1-2-2 score line, was feeling the heat from Music (RSA), the Swan 53, which posted two wins in yesterday’s racing to trail by a point. Today’s conditions and course suited the heavier Swan; however, the longer reaching legs did not. She finished fourth today to take second overall, conceding overall victory to Music, which won the race. The other Swan 53, Patrick Demarchelier’s Puffy (USA) – with Marc Guillemot, offshore solo sailing legend, helming – reveled in the breeze and posted a third place but settled for sixth overall in the end.
Dockside post-racing, James Blakemore, Music’s South African skipper, was delighted to find out that Music had saved its time by over a minute to win the day’s race and their class in the regatta. “One of the successes we had was to go around the course without any major mishaps,” said Blakemore, “and so we sailed the course well with a really good all-round performance. Good conditions for us today, because we are a heavy boat and we prefer the stronger winds. We powered up really well and had a good downwind run at 9 – 12 knots.”
Sergio Sagramoso’s J/122 Lazy Dog (PUR) returned to form, posting a first today to finish three points ahead of Rohan Eamonn’s First 40 Ramanessin (IRL) in Spinnaker 2. The ebullient Puerto Rican sailor said, “This was probably our best season in the Caribbean: we won the Heineken Regatta, BVI Spring Regatta, were 2nd at International Rolex Regatta, and we’ve won this!”
About their competition on Ramanessin, he added, “They were very good. In fact they’ve been giving us headaches, and yesterday they beat us in one race, so we had to be on guard. They are Melges sailors, and they were learning more about the boat every day!”
In the Multihull class, Erick Clement’s 40-foot Dauphine Telecom tried to spoil the 63-foot Nigel Irens-designed yacht Paradox’s (USA) party, and in fact came within one point of the overall leader but Paradox went home with the silver.
In the Classics, Tim Rutter’s 74-foot Frers-designed luxury yacht Heroina (USA) romped around the course all week. The cold-molded boat, built in the mid-1990s by German Frers as his personal yacht, seems to have racing in its lineage with a mast that was given to Frers from America’s Cup challenger Il Moro de Venezia (it was the team’s spare and effectively determined the boat’s size) and a winged keel from Stars and Stripes 1987. The keel was perfect for the shallow draft of Heroina’s home waters on the River Plate in Argentina.
This evening there was a prizegiving dockside in the Les Voiles de St. Barth race village, on the Quai Gral de Gaulle in Gustavia harbor. Race organizers presented top-three finishers in each class with trophies, champagne and other prizes.
Event Sponsor Richard Mille presented Vesper, the winner of the Maxi/Racing class, with a Richard Mille RM028 special edition “Les Voiles de St. Barth” watch.
Event partner Gaastra presented winners with a voucher for team crew gear.
Luxury villa rental management specialist, West Indies Management Company (WIMCO) presented winners in 8 classes (Maxi/Racing, Maxi, Spinnaker 1-2-3, Non-Spinnaker, Classic, Multihull) a week’s stay in a luxury villa in St. Barth. Winners also were presented with magnums of Taittinger champagne and Mount Gay 1703 rhum.
Les Voiles de St. Barth Premium Partners include: Banque des Antilles Français, Collectivité de St Barthélemy, Association des Hôteliers, Comité Territorial du Tourisme, LIERAC, Champagne Taittinger, Rémy Cointreau, St Barth Yacht Club, Air France, Fédération Française de Voile, Domaine Ott, San Pellegrino.
2014 Event Dates:
Next year, Les Voiles de St. Barth will be held from April 7 – 12, 2014. To maintain the high level of racing, Event Director Francois Paul Tolède announced that entries will be capped at 80 boats.