Saturday, 2 October 2010

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez: Stunning Day on the Bay of Pampelonne

ALTAIR - GOELETTE AURIQUE. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

by Anna Maria Gregorini

After a day ‘off’ at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, on Friday it was back to fleet racing for the 289 boats here this year. Les Voiles is unique in the diversity of the fleet; for this 12th edition there are 101 boats in the Tradition division, 165 in the Modern division, 11 in the Wally division, and 12 in the Tofinu division.

MOONBEAM III - COTRE AURIQUE. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

The Tradition fleet is a motley collection of fore-and-aft schooners, Bermudian sloops, Marconi cutters, among others. The terms indicating the type of sail plan often seem difficult to understand, but in this maze of technical names for sailing yachts it relates to one, two, or three masts, carrying various types of sails. The schooner has two or more masts, with the forward mast shorter than the aft (main) mast. The reverse – in simple terms – is a ketch, when the shorter after (mizzen) mast is located in front of the rudder post; and if the mizzenmast is located aft of this axis, it is a yawl. A Marconi rig or sail plan features a mainsail that is triangular-shaped, with the narrow end (head) at the top of the mast. Very common with traditional yachts, is a fore-and-aft sail plan, also known as gaff-rigged. Finally, a cutter is a sailing yacht that has at least two headsails.

MOONBEAM III - COTRE AURIQUE. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

From the air over the Bay of Pampelonne today, the Les Voiles fleet seemingly filled the water to the horizon, unusual in that all of the divisions, Tradition, Modern, and Wally, were racing on the same body of water. The race committee opted to the fleet southward outside of the Golfe de Saint-Tropez, which was where the wind finally materialized. And while they all divisions had their own courses, there was indeed overlap, with some modern grand-prix boats crossing classic gaffers, but there was plenty of real estate for all competitors. Again today, there was a delay for the scheduled start times and then around 2pm, the wind line moved in from the southwest and all classes were off in a building breeze that ranged from 8 – 12 knots.

MARISKA - 15MJI AURIQUE. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

The smaller Tradition division boats were sent on a 15.8 nautical mile course, the bigger boats on a 18.9 nautical mile course; all boats left the starting line in the Golfe de Saint-Tropez, sailed out around Porte Moutte and then beat across the Bay of Pampelonne to a windward mark off Cap Camarat, back to Porte Seiche, where the course they eventually finished when the course was shortened.

ELENA - GOELETTE AURIQUE. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

At press time results were not final – with the big fleet, calculations will be forthcoming by this evening. As of this morning, after two days of racing, the leaders for the Rolex Trophy – the low point leaders, all four yachts with two wins each – were the NYYC40 Rowdy (1916), the 12m Ikra (1964), the gaff ketch Thendara (1937), and the gaff cutter Moonbeam IV (1914). A collection of traditional boats that, in itself, celebrates over 50 years of innovative yacht design and impeccable construction. Of course it helps that all of these boats have been highly maintained and/or undergone significant restoration efforts, but they are all true to their original design.

AVEL - COTRE AURIQUE. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

The Rolex Trophy

The Rolex Trophy will be awarded to the low point winner from the Tradition division boats that are more than 16 metres (length on deck). There are 44 boats eligible in this division, spread over seven classes. At Sunday's prize giving ceremony at the Citadelle, the winner will be awarded the Rolex Trophy and a Rolex Submariner timepiece.

BONAFIDE - ANKER & JENSEN. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

The Trophy was first awarded in 2006, past winners include:
2006 – So Fong, 25 metre Marconi-rigged schooner. Designed by the renowned naval architecture firm, Sparkman & Stephens and built in Hong Kong in 1937.
2007 – Agneta, 25 metre yawl, built in 1951. Agneta’s beautiful varnished mahogany hull and tanbark sails are unmistakable on the water.
2008 & 2009 – Rowdy, Herreshoff-designed NYYC 40 class. Commissioned by the New York Yacht Club, this design is 40 feet on the waterline (approx 65 ft LOA).

THENDARA - KETCH AURIQUE. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Tomorrow, Saturday, 2 October racing concludes with a scheduled 11am start for the Modern division and 12noon for the Tradition division.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2010 Event Programme
Sunday, 26 September: Welcome for yachts
Monday, 27 September: Welcome for yachts; Racing in Modern division
Tuesday, 28 September: Coastal race for all
Wednesday, 29 September: Coastal race for all
Thursday, 30 September: Challenge Day (match racing)
Friday, 1 October: Coastal race for all
Saturday, 2 October, Coastal race for all
Sunday, 3 October: 11am, Prizegiving Ceremony at La Citadelle

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez