Despite a certain discretion on the part of the sunshine for the fantastic showstopper that is Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, version 2015, the curtain falls on an edition which enabled four of the possible six days of racing.
In this way, the 4,000 sailors gave heart and soul to this final regatta before the winter break within a sublimely varied fleet of 330 Classic and Modern yachts. The majestic Wallys enjoyed 5 very windy races, whilst the five IRC groups racked up 3. Hitting the racetrack on Tuesday, the classic yachts competed in two races, whilst the 15m JIs sailed 5 hotly disputed races resulting in the Yacht Club de Monaco’s beautiful Tuiga being named their 2015 champion thanks to a lead of just one point. A ‘whipped up’ edition of Les Voiles, the splendour of the boats and the unquenchable good humour of the celebrating crews illuminated Saint Tropez.
André Beaufils, President of the SNST: ”We made the best of it. We learn something new each year about the effect the elements have on proceedings and we’ll take that into account more and more in the future. The initial reactions from the competitors are positive, as they understand the difficulties we face when working with Mother Nature. The Race Committees were able to adapt to the daily problems and already we’re reflecting on the siting of the village next year as the Harbour Master’s Office is being expanded. The village will be different, albeit of the same high quality. It has certainly been a festive affair as we were able to respond to whatever the weather threw our way and the mindset at the soirées was certainly worthy of Saint Tropez. A theme dear to my heart for next year is “owners aboard and friends first and foremost”. The idea is to inspire the boat owners to come back here for fun with a group of friends. Furthermore, the notion of a challenge is important in yachting. I want to take inspiration from this to revive the notion on the water. A Challenge is the very essence of racing. Owners, skippers and sailors jump at the prospect because of the adrenalin hit it gives them and with it the ensuing celebration on shore.”
Georges Korhel, Principal Race Officer: ”We’ve had a complicated week, with two days cancelled due to the gales. We adapted to the situation, which resulted in a decent amount of races for all the different categories. Our new simpler and more legible courses enjoyed great success and we had no protests directed our way. Nobody questioned the cancellations. On Friday, we launched the races in driving rain and the day went very smoothly to the great delight of the racers. Our teams work like well-oiled machines. We do need to work on the stability of our Committee boats and our marks. We have considerable depth here, 600 metres in places, and it’s tricky to keep our marks in position. Meantime, the rankings come out thick and fast and are quickly uploaded to the Internet.”
ROLEX TROPHY Classic Marconi B -: Maria Giovanna II
EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD TROPHY IRC C: Vesper
BMW WALLY TROPHY -: Magic Blue
Grands Tradition Group – SILLINGER TROPHY: Moonbeam of Fife
Period Gaffer Group A – BYBLOS TROPHY: Chinook
Period Marconi A – GL EVENT TROPHY: Rowdy
Period Marconi D – ESPRIT VILLAGE TROPHY: Windhover
IRC A – KAPPA TROPHY: Ranger
IRC B: SFS TROPHY: Music
IRC D: MARINE DE COGOLIN TROPHY: Team Chalets
IRC E: SNSM TROPHY: Absolutely
YACHT CLUB DE FRANCE TROPHY: Moonbeam III
TROPHEMINA: Abe – PASCALE LIGIER
CREW PROCESSION: The crews of Bernina, Rafale and Xantus took the prize.
Two races for the Classics:
The Classic yachts race in Saint Tropez in 11 of the most balanced groups possible, taking into account the boat’s rig sizes and types, gaff or Marconi.
For the first time, the four 15m JIs, Mariska, Tuiga, The Lady Anne and Hispania competed in the final race of their championship at Les Voiles. Going right to the wire, it was Tuiga who took the win, just one point ahead of Mariska, who’d held the title for 2 years.
WALLY – BMW TROPHY
Magic Blue the most consistent
Though she benefited from the retirement of Magic Carpet Cubed in the last race, Magic Blue’s victory was much deserved. The Wallys competed in 5 races, including two coastal courses. Magic Blue secured 3 victories, leaving Y3K several boat lengths astern in 2nd place. Open Season, dominated in elapsed time, showing her rating off to full glory and completing the podium.
Grands Tradition Group – SILLINGER TROPHY
The large gaff riggers, all centenarians, saw victory go to Moonbeam of Fife, which held out on the massive schooner Elena. Moonbeam IV, a great triumph in Cannes last month, finished third.
Period Gaffer Group A – BYBLOS TROPHY These fantastic gaff cutters or sloops measuring between 15 and 20 metres often post very similar speeds. This makes the competition even fiercer and Chinook, the 1916 Herreshoff design just managed to take the win over Eva, a 1906 Fife design and the American P Class Olympian.
Gaffer Group B
The venerable little gaff sloop Tern, she too a Fife design from 1897, reigned supreme in this elegant little group, winning one race and finishing second in Saturday’s breezy conditions. The Caillebotte design, Lulu, she too launched in 1897 and very familiar with the podiums of Saint Tropez, lived up to her reputation and bagged second place ahead of the large schooner, Morwenna (Linton Hope 1914). We lament the retirement of the event’s most senior boat, Marigold launched in 1892, victim of a broken spinnaker pole and top mast.
Classic Marconi A – Ikra to continue the legend
Imoca newby Sébastien Destremeau helmed the legendary 12m JI Ikra, a 1964 Boyd design, to victory in a group riddled with high-speed racers. Il Moro di Venezia for one, (Frers 1976), which despite a fine victory on Saturday, yielded to take second, with the cutter Ilaria rounding off the podium in a group bolstered by some 15 participants.
Classic Marconi B – ROLEX TROPHY Awarded by Maria Giovanna II the Rolex Trophy was awarded to Frenchman Jean Pierre Sauvan. A very nice surprise, the Olin Stephens sloop stole the show in what was a very comprehensive, very coherent fleet of 14 racing yachts harking back to the seventies. The recently restored Sangermani design and newcomer to the racetrack, Namib took second ahead of another splendid restoration, the Breton Stephens design Stiren.
Period Marconi A – GL EVENT TROPHY
An eminently spectacular group, the Period Marconi A seemingly only gathers together potential winners, including Manitou, Zinita and Eilidh… However, it was the pacey Rowdy, a 1916 design by Herreshoff, which utterly dominated proceedings, racking up one victory and one second place. Relegated to second place were Oiseau de Feu (Nicholson 1937) and Sérénade, the pretty Potter design and a favourite of Humphrey Bogart, and a newcomer to Les Voiles following her restoration.
Period Marconi B
A sumptuous class, it boasts a dozen or so elegant and lively protagonists. The Johann Anker design Q Class, Leonore, posted a virtually flawless performance with a 1st and 2nd place. Mignon secured a fine second place after her two podiums of the week. Harlekin (30m2 Nilson 1948) just made it to the third step of the podium against Aile VI.
Period Marconi C
This group harbours a number of fabulous and rare classic yawls and ketches. The winner was the 1937 Stephens yawl Skylark. She was head and shoulders above White Wings, a Bermudan cutter designed by Alden, and another Potter design Cholita.
Period Marconi D – ESPRIT VILLAGE TROPHY
The Luke Brother design Windhover, launched in 1904, is one of the many centenarians racing at Les Voiles. She was certainly a cut above the rest with two victories, trailed by some distance by Dainty, the smallest yacht of the Classic fleet with her elegant 8.12m (Westmagott 1912). Isis, (Baldenweck 1935) takes third.
MODERN MARCONI E
This classic group gathers together 23 pretty day boats and it was the Patrice Ribaud’s Tofinou 9.5 Pitch, which won hands down, ahead of another Tofinou 9.5 Azure and the Code 1 Black Legend.
MODERN; high sport in IRC
Totally dedicated to top level sport, the five groups all validated three races in some pretty steady winds.
IRC A: KAPPA TROPHY: Ranger triumphs The Sparkman and Stephens J-Class, Ranger, asserted herself at Les Voiles. The immense sloop spanning close to 42 metres, finished the week with a flourish, securing a second and third place in windy conditions, often accompanied by big waves. The large Swan 601 Arobas, a familiar name on the Mediterranean podiums, secured second place ahead of MY Song, the latter winning a race in Monday’s medium breeze.
IRC B: SFS TROPHY The Baltic 50s are renowned for their prowess on the racetrack, but Music posted a particularly impressive performance in Saint Tropez, winning two of the three races in style. She finished way ahead of the Russian Mobile 53 Anna, which in turn managed to contain Flo d’Orient, the Adria 49.
IRC C: EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD TROPHY This is another of the groups that boasts a very high concentration of top-flight racers aboard racer-cruisers honed for competition, which makes victory all the sweeter. It’s the formidable TP 52 Vesper owned by American Jim Schwartz which took the win thanks to two race victories, and she bags the Edmond de Rothschild Trophy. Prince Frederik of Denmark secured second place for his TP 52 Nanoq ahead of the Lithuanian XP 44 Amber Miles.
IRC D: MARINE DE COGOLIN TROPHY
The 40-footers had an absolute ball throughout the week, racing in a compact group of 40 craft. Philippe Saint André’s A 40 Team Chalets posted two much deserved bullets ahead of the Italian Gian Marco Magrini on Vito 2, and the German Michael Mueller on the 42 IBC Pappes.
IRC E: SNSM TROPHY With two victories out of three races, the M 36 Absolutely makes a very fine winner at head of a strong group of 36 participants. The German Farr 30 Nikita is a solid second with one victory to her credit, ahead of the Italian Marcelo Maresca on the A 35 Just a joke.
Image credit Gilles Martin-Raget