The most beautiful boats in the world at the 15th Les Voiles de Saint Tropez!
− Already 15 years since the first edition of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez
− On the water: Ikra celebrates her 50th birthday and defends her title
− New order for the Club 55 Cup
− On shore: the unique atmosphere of Les Voiles
The 4,000 crew members who gather together in Saint Tropez each year in the coppery glow of early autumn, aboard over 300 of the most beautiful modern and classic boats in the world, have transformed what was originally an amicable gathering into an unmissable rendez-vous, both on the water and on shore. True to its values, la Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez team and its President, André Beaufils, have managed to hold their course throughout the voyage and maintain the unique spirit of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez.
Celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year with good humour and a deep respect for fair play on the water, Les Voiles de Saint Tropez meeting puts the success of its formula down to being a long-term endeavour. The mixture of classic yachts and craft from the third millennium is the main feature of Les Voiles and has become its veritable ‘trademark’. The same is true of the event’s festival ambiance and the wealth of entertainment on shore, which welcomes locals and the general public with open arms.
On the water: from Nioulargue to Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, points of reference not to be missed:
Ikra: the winner of the Rolex Trophy is celebrating her 50th birthday
Following the arrival of the classic yachts from Cannes on Sunday 28 September, within the context of the Yacht Club de France’s much coveted Coupe d'Automne, racing will commence in the bay of Saint Tropez on Monday 29 for the modern boats, then on Tuesday 30 for all the competitors. Whilst Les Voiles celebrates its 15th anniversary, and some of the modern boats put in their very first appearance in the sunshine of the local race zone, the years can be counted in tens amongst the classic yachts.
Naturally these craft have seen a steady succession of owners, but one thing that is still very much intact is the passion, which has enabled these craft to travel down through time. That said, we mustn’t forget to pay homage to the thirty or so centenarians that will be at Les Voiles, a particularly high turnout, all of which will boast their very own race on Thursday in partnership with the Yacht Club de Gstaad. Also of note is that this particular edition will be marked by Ikra’s 50th birthday. In addition to her good age, this anniversary will take us right back to the very first Nioulargue, in 1981, which saw the 12mJI put up a friendly challenge to the Swan 44 Pride, with the complicity of Patrice de Colmont.
Built at Alexander Robertson & Sons in 1964, Kurrewa V (her original name) underwent a refit by the Livingstone brothers within the context of the English challenge for the America's Cup. In 1968, she became Lévrier de Mer (Greyhound of the Seas) and served as a pace boat for Baron Bich’s France. Going by the name of Ikra since 1976, this 21m monohull has a splendid track record to defend: a multiple champion of a series of classic yacht races, for the second time in 2013, she managed to secure the prestigious Rolex Trophy, an award designed for the best classic yacht measuring 16 metres and over within the context of races run at Les Voiles de Saint Tropez.
New features for the Club 55 cup
Run as an addition to the illustrious sports trophies fought over during Les Voiles, the Club 55 Cup is in a class of its own. Relaunched in 2003, its rules are perfectly simple in principle: on the Thursday two boats challenge one another over a course spanning 15 nautical miles – Le Portalet tower, the Nioulargue mark and Le Club 55 –, and the one which finishes ahead of the other takes the win and challenges the boat of its choice the following year, the whole thing rounding off with the inevitable lunch beneath the tamarisks of Le Club 55 for both crews.
Already embellished in some way since their creation – if a boat wins twice, it’s the runner-up who becomes the new ‘defender’, whatever the result on the water – the rules of this highly ceremonial competition have had to evolve still further. In 2011, Mariquita and Altaïr were embroiled in a titanic struggle... but the wind simply dropped away. Very much in keeping with the chivalrous spirit of Les Voiles, a tie was declared.
Last year, an easterly gale prompted the organisers to veto any starts on the Thursday, but the schooners Altaïr and Lelantina and the gaff cutter Moonbeam III took to the open water anyway so as to brave the elements, and put in a series of classic tacks amidst the breakers and strong swell sweeping the bay of Saint Tropez. Now there is a new scenario, transformed by a configuration never before imagined: in 2014, Moonbeam will confront Lelantina, and Altair will also be permitted to choose an opponent. Surely courage will prevail!
The rules are evolving again in 2015, with the owner of the boat compelled to be aboard in order to take up the challenge of the Club 55 Cup. Indeed it’s out of the question to send one’s men to do battle in close contact, the knife between the teeth, without the master or mistress’ voice to beat time.
On shore: a celebration for all
Reinstated last year, the blessing of the yachts by Father Hayes harks back to Nioulargue tradition and this year it will take place on Monday 29th at 09:00 hours in the port of Saint Tropez. Sport, social interaction, and festivity: once again the spectacle that is Les Voiles will be much in evidence on both the water and on shore, to enable the locals and the public to play their part in the event between the port and the town’s streets.
Highly anticipated, the crazy atmosphere generated by the famous parade of crews will be further brightened by the surprise themes and costumes, which the crews concoct in the utmost secrecy from one year to the next: Star Wars characters (kudos to Chewbacca for keeping his rather becoming costume on for 2 hours in 30-degree heat), cavemen, Buddhas, comic book heroes or young women clad in pink and white gingham riding sidesaddle on big Harleys, will doubtless be out in force again on the Thursday from 1900 hours.
Also of note is the fact that the ‘Boule’ (French bowling) competition is back on the Wednesday evening schedule. This high quality competition, which has become another highlight of the event, sees teams compete in a ‘mixed’ configuration, as they must combine both locals and sailing crews. The legendary Place des Lices is the veritable hub of the town, hosting various activities in a festive atmosphere, notably including rugby mock-ups, a rodeo bull and arm wrestling, not to mention the famous tug-of-war and the giant Savoyard fry-up.
Saturday 27 September – Sunday 28: Registration and checking in
Monday 29, Tuesday 30 September, Wednesday 1, Thursday 2 (J. Laurain & D. Jayson's day, challenges day), Friday 3 et Saturday 4 octobre : Inshore race, 1st start 11:00
Sunday 28, Monday 29 September : Registration and checking in
Sunday 28 September: arrival of the Coupe d’Automne du Yacht Club de France from Cannes Monday 29, Thursday 2: 15mJI championship, 1st start 11:00
Tuesday 30 September, Wednesday 1, Thursday 2 (J. Laurain & D. Jayson's day, challenges day, Club 55 Cup, GYC Centenary Trophy), Friday 3 and Saturday 4 October : Inshore race, 1st start 12 :00
Prizegiving: Sunday 5 October, from 11:00