Sunday, 14 April 2013
by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson
The final day of racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth served up 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 Selene continued its winning ways, sweeping ahead of Whisper and Idea of London (and the Swan 100 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 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 Frerrs-designed sloop 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.
Final Results are available on the event website: http://www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com/site/us/category/2013-results
What They Said
Maxi Racing: Gavin Brady, tactician – Vesper
“Last year we were here and came in second overall. We lost a few races then, just in our changing sails and things like that. We weren’t quite as crisp as we are this year. We set that game up this year; it’s been good to go through that process and focus on this regatta. Our notes from last year’s regatta were, ‘we can do it better.’
“It’s been good sailing, yesterday Jim got off the boat and said it’s probably one of the prettiest days of sailing that he’s had. It wasn’t planing conditions, but it was one of the picture perfect days in St. Barth. That’s the great thing about here: you get the big waves and it’s blowing and you think you’re in the southern ocean in shorts and t-shirts, and other times you get here and it’s not as windy. Well, it’s never bad, just different. I don’t think you’d ever come here and not get a race in – I don’t think there are many places that you can say that about.”
Spinnaker 1: James Blakemore, skipper – Music
“My strategy going out today started with having a good crew! The choices the guys made meant we were going to fly, and we took a really good start, which we worked on hard this morning. We sailed a really good race, technically well, mechanically well, and had no mishaps. The crew worked hard at that.
Spinnaker 2: Sergio Sagramoso, skipper – Lazy Dog
“I think in sailboat racing, especially when you do it with the same crew year after year – and these are friends who are not professionals, there are no professionals on board – everything has to click. I’ve had a year like this before, but you can go five or six years without having a year like this. When everyone is on top of their game physically, mentally, and the boat is ready, everything clicks and then you start winning. I think we are in one of those years, it takes a long time to get there, but we have it now.”
Spinnaker 3: Claude Granel, President of the Association Martiniquaise ven Dan Vwel 972 – Credit Mutuel Martinique Premiere
"The sailing conditions in St. Barth have been magnificent, exceptional and tough, because you need to know the lay of the land and geography, as you are racing against local sailors who know the area really well. So the first days were quite difficult with all the wind shifts and variation in the weather.
“On the strategy and tactics side it was quite tough too. Marc Emig (professional French offshore sailing specialist) has been doing some helming and training the crew of six on board this week. We had high hopes for a good result, since as an association we have been working really hard, performing well over the past two seasons and improving at each regatta. Thanks to our sponsors, Credit Mutuel and Paris Premiere, who have allowed us to really have well-prepared boats. We are really satisfied with our results and seeing the improvement throughout the week and especially considering how tough and good the level is of the competition. We are really, really pleased."
Non-Spinnaker: Robert Velasquez, skipper – L'Esperance
"We have been having a wonderful time and have had great sailing success with a second yesterday, just by a couple of minutes, but for the rest it has been great and the organization is brilliant and our friends in St. Barth have been really looking after us. On board we have a bunch of older guys primarily from St. Maarten, with one from Jamaica and one Guyana. I own Bobby's Marina in St. Maarten, which I set up in 1968, so it has been going for 45 years!
The organization of this race has been fantastic. I sail all through the Caribbean, all the regattas in our immediate radius, like Antigua, Saint Vincent, Anguilla, the Heineken in St. Martin, so I’ve been sailing for a while and have been to all the Voiles de St. Barths and will be back next year; it has been wonderful!"
Melges 24: Andrea Scarabelli, skipper – Budget Marine/Gill
"What a great week. We had never raced Les Voiles de Saint Barth and we were really impressed with the organisation. We had really tough competition and in particular with Team Island Water World and were very disappointed when they broke their mast. We both knew that the winner today would be the winner of the regatta. We all come from St. Maarten and have been competing in all of the Caribbean races, but here the courses are really interesting ‘round-the-islands, a bit long at times for us in the Melges 24! But it is great to have our own class, and we will encourage getting more teams here next year.”
Chris Marshall, team manager and main trimmer – Credit Mutuel Martinique Premiere
"We have a really international team from Australia, Italy, Holland, France and myself from Trinidad originally, but we all live in St. Maarten and have been sailing together as a team for some years now. We always seem to go into the last day having to win the last race, whether it is a point behind or ahead, so today was like a final. We were in a good position when Team Island Water World lost their mast, we saw them fighting and fighting and everyone on board really felt for them. It has happened to us in the past. It was fantastic when we crossed the line and we got the gun and then they came up to us with a bottle of Taittinger; we felt really special! Everything about the regatta has been top-of-the-line. I was really impressed."
Classic: Tim Rutter, skipper – Heroina
"Absolutely beyond excited to be a part of the event and even more to win our class at Les Voiles. I couldn't be more thankful to the organizers and the Collective, and I couldn't be more grateful for my crew this week."
Multihull: Peter Aschenbrenner, skipper – Paradox
“The boat is really built for ocean passages and ocean sailing, so we feel very much at home when the wind gets up in solid trade-wind conditions, like 20 plus knots and big waves. The boat acts really nicely and goes really fast. I think we are more comfortable at the high end of the range while some of the smaller boats struggle a little more. It is really the luck of the draw, because last year was lighter. The trades are pretty consistent, though, so if you come down and do a few events you will get some great sailing.
“We would like to see more multihulls; it is the perfect place to sail multihulls! These boats can be a little wet when they are powered up, but then the air and water are warm. We would like to get some more fast trimarans; it is a separate breed.”
Les Voiles de St Barth