Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Les Voiles de St Barth: "Don't Change A Thing" for the Second Edition

Image © Marie-Pierre Pautrot.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

An enthusiastic Ken Read got off to an exciting new season in a resounding start on board the new maxi yacht, "Rambler 100" in the Caribbean 600. The American skipper, who leads the "Puma Ocean Racing" project has just won the event, leaving his rival Leopard 3 a long way behind and in so doing also grabbed the race record. Winner of the first edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth, George David naturally entrusted him with the helm of "Rambler 100", the former "Speeboat" he bought early this year.

Very excited by the performance of the boat, Ken Read is looking forward to the race programme that lies ahead in the coming weeks. Les Voiles de St. Barth left a an indelible mark on him, at the mention of his win in 2010, he admits without any hesitation that he took advantage of "the best conditions ever experienced in my whole career..." The prospect of closely fought contests on a variety of windy courses once again facing their main rival Leopard 3 is something that Team Puma is extremely happy about.

Les Voiles de St Barth 2010. Image © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de Saint-Barth.

"Don’t change a thing!" Ken Read exclaims after the first leg of the brand new Atlantic Ocean Racing Series (AORS), who is expecting a lot from the Les Voiles de St. Barth. The event with its short day race courses will be the first time that his maxi Rambler 100 and the British owner Mike Slade’s mighty Leopard 3 will have faced each other for this type of racing. "Rambler and Leopard are two huge monsters," explained Ken Read showing his full admiration. "They are designed for long ocean races and major offshore courses. They are record-breaking boats". For our crew, it is vital to be able to compete too on inshore races, like those we have in St. Barth, where there is tough race courses designed for day racing around the islands. This battle against Leopard 3 will be very demanding for the crews and fascinating to watch, as we will be alongside each other for a lot of the time and it is bound to offer a maximum level of excitement."

The Caribbean 600 represented an intermediate format for Ken Read and his crew, which very quickly turned to the advantage of Rambler 100, who led the way from start to finish in what were typically Caribbean conditions, with strong trade winds windward of the islands, and with some tricky currents to deal with, particularly at night. The former trimaran Primagaz held the established overall record, while Mike Slade and his "Leopard 3" achieved the best monohull time in 2009 completing the race in 44 hours, 5 minutes and 14 seconds. Now, the new record that becomes the reference time for the event is 40 hours, 20 minutes and 2 seconds. We can add that Sojana, the huge Farr designed boat owned by Peter Harrison, which stood out in the Les Voiles de St. Barth last year and will be back again this year, also took part alongside another contender, Genuine Risk, the 97-foot American boat designed by "Dubois Custom", with a registered entry to Les Voiles de St. Barth for the first time, may also thwart the favourites’ plans. Ken Read and crew have just scored their first point in this battle against Leopard 3. "Sailing along at 26 knots under the stars, we had some great moments aboard Rambler 100, a boat that offers a completely new dimension to racing," concluded Read, who is already thinking ahead to Les Voiles de St. Barth.

The American has brought along the whole of his "Puma Ocean Racing" team with 15 top performing professional sailors joining 7 other experienced crewmen to race the powerful 30-metre carbon maxi yacht.

"In St. Barth, each day is different. The race committee has done an excellent job coming up with courses around the islands that are spectacular and at the same time very demanding from a tactical perspective, as they mean we have to sail at every point of sail. Les Voiles de St. Barth is also physically very tiring, as the strong regular winds that sweep across the islands at this time of year allow us to get the most out of the boat, implying frequent sail changes with each change of tack. Technically, this is a really interesting event, which is a fantastic complement to the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series programme, that will reach its climax in June with the 2011 Transatlantic Race from Newport, Rhode Island to The Lizard in the UK."

Les Voiles de St Barth 2010. Image © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de Saint-Barth.

Key information:

With one month to go to the start of racing, the Les Voiles de St. Barth have registered entries of no fewer than 49 yachts, divided up according to their size and class in the following five divisions:

SUPER / MAXI YACHT: A Maxi yacht refers to a prototype yacht or one that is produced in limited numbers measuring at least 21 metres in length: 8 boats registered

CLASSIC: Classic Yachts or traditional boats are boats that are at least 35 years old and fit into various categories: 5 boats registered

RACING: This division brings together racing monohulls designed specifically for coastal or offshore races: 15 boats registered

RACING-CRUISING: The Racing Cruising division includes chiefly series boats, fitted out for cruising as well as for racing: 17 boats registered

RACING- MULTIHULLS: This division includes racing multihulls, be they trimarans or catamarans, with a length between 30 and 60 feet and which are very light and fast: 4 boats registered

Note: Full entry list is available on the website: http://www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com/

The Les Voiles de St. Barth will officially begin on Monday 4th April 2011 with the traditional registration process and the opening of the Voiles Village, Quai du Général De Gaulle in Gustavia.

From 1300 hrs (local time) the next day (Tuesday 5th April), the Race Directors placed under the responsibility of Luc Poupon will signal the start of racing on some exciting and varied race courses set up according to the weather conditions.

Thursday 7th April will be a lay day, allowing the crews to rest and enjoy themselves along with the people of St. Barth, with a full list of festive events lined up.

The closing evening will follow on from the prize-giving ceremony on Saturday 9th April.

Les Voiles de St Barth.