Les Voiles de St Barth: A Great Day for Setting Records
Another serving of clear skies and classic trade winds made it a very good day for promoting racing in the Caribbean, and Les Voiles de St. Barth organizers capitalized on the stellar conditions with a decision to "go big” on the regatta's second day of racing. Making good on an earlier promise to give the largest, fastest boats here a new marquee race designed for flat-out speed, the race committee sent the Maxi 1, Maxi 2 and Multihull classes on a 42 nm course that started off Gustavia and looped around St. Barth before continuing across the Canal de Saint Barthelemy to round the island of Tintamarre (east of Saint Martin) to port and return its players to a finish near where they had started.
“It was a little bit like NASCAR racing out there: drive fast and keep turning left,” said Phaedo 3's skipper Lloyd Thornberg about the course, which will be the same one used in future years to establish new records if today's are broken. Thornberg rules for now, however, with his MOD 70 trimaran's zip around the course in one hour, 53 minutes and 35 seconds, giving it line honors in the Multihull class well ahead of the next finisher, Comanche, whose time of 2:33:04 set the course record in the Maxi 1 class. Posting a time of 3:38:07, Odin now holds the record in the Maxi 2 class.
“It's incredible that we went around Tintamarre and back in under two hours,” said Thornberg, who broke the Caribbean 600 record in February and while here this week for Les Voiles practice broke Steve Fossett's Playstation record around St. Martin. “That's about what we thought we would do, but it's one thing to talk about it, another to do it.”
Thornberg has been at Les Voiles since the second edition. “The first time, I broke my boom five minutes before the start, but I won the remote-controlled regatta on the Lay Day, so that was good. The regatta is growing; it brings in really serious race boats with great teams, and it's one of the most beautiful places to race in the world. I like how they use islands as marks rather than setting marks. It's a little more challenging, looking for water, and the winds shift around the islands, which you really notice on the Mod 70. You feel the lifts and headers and lack of pressure, and what happens in a few minutes on other boats all happens in 30 seconds for us.”
After correcting out, top-three daily prizes in Spinnaker class went to Phaedo 3, Paradox and Elvis, and their series standings are the same. Like yesterday, Rambler 88 won the Maxi 1 class on corrected time, about four minutes ahead of Bella Mente, which had not been able to sail yesterday due to equipment failure. Comanche trailed 10 seconds behind, and the leader board has them tied on point score with Lucky behind leader Rambler 88. (Maxi 2s are currently being led by Lupa of London, followed by Aragon and Selene in second and third respectively)
Spinnaker 0 had two races today but started the morning off by joining six other classes (Spinnaker 1, 2, 3, 4, Non-Spinnaker, Melges 24) in their one and only 29 nm race for the day.
Now with three straight race victories, Vesper continues to lead the series for Spinnaker 0, while Lazy Dog, with two bullets, leads Spinnaker 1.
“The boats you see out there are just unbelievable,” said Lazy Dog's Puerto Rican skipper Sergio Sagramoso, “It's incredible being here, because we get to race with some of the best boats in the world and compare our sailing abilities with them. It's just so great that they allow guys on boats like ours (a Melges 32) to race here, and to win on our boat was a great equalizer.”
With two races each in their score line, Ramanessin, Music, Martinique Premiere-Credit, L'esperance, and Budget Marine GILL are currently leading Spinnaker 2, Spinnaker 3, Spinnaker 4, Non-Spinnaker, and Melges 24 classes, respectively.
Racing will resume after tomorrow's Lay Day, which will offer a menu of individual and team sports, including SUP (Stand Up Paddle) relays, water polo and a treasure hunt for caviar. Saturday will be the last day to determine victors in the 10 classes sailing here.
Image credit: Jouany Christophe
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