One last day in the form of an XXL final! For one last time, this was a race zone at its very best in Saint Tropez, swept by an E’ly wind and a fine swell, providing the perfect backdrop for the 45 Maxis competing in this Saturday finale.
The nerve centre and festive forum of Saint Tropez for two whole weeks, Les Voiles race village resonated with a joyous mix of accents at this evening’s prize-giving attended by some 800 sailors of a good thirty or so nationalities, many of them professionals in their home countries, who brought these incredible giants to life in wondrous splendour. Indeed, their presence here makes Les Voiles the largest Maxi event in the world this year, a genuine ‘Hotspot for Sailing’. Suffice to say that it has been a dazzling, eye-popping spectacle in a week full of meteorological contrasts, which enabled three races to be validated in IRC 1, 2 and 3, and two races for the ‘small’ (60-feet) IRC 4s. Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, the 23rd edition no less, can certainly be proud of the admirable way in which it has brought renewed vigour to the event, post-Covid, with a magical two-week formula that translates as double the joy, emotion and fraternity of seafarers from all backgrounds and every corner of the globe.
IRC1; what a ride on Magic Carpet Cubed!
10 knots of E’ly wind, building slightly on a good swell of more than a metre at the edge of the bay… perfect for releasing the four groups of Maxis out onto the racetrack in the early afternoon for their last day of racing in Saint Tropez. A looped circuit of around twenty miles between an offshore mark and Les Issambres gave the tacticians and navigators plenty to think about, especially with a number of ‘amicable disputes’ to settle. As such, due to a penalising rating, the supersonic Comanche had to win her third race in a row in elapsed time. In her wake, Rambler 88 and Magic Carpet Cubed, perfectly tied on points when the starting gun fired, had to post a stellar performance to stand a chance of taking home the North Sails Trophy, awarded to the winner of IRC1. Rambler managed to steel a march and opened up an impossible lead over Magic Carpet, in the wake of Comanche. The latter wasn’t quite as domineering as usual at the start of the race, but thanks to the wind picking up slightly as it clocked round to the south, she managed to summon up enough pizzazz to win the leg in elapsed time. Rambler crossed the line 6 minutes ahead of the mighty Wally Cento. However, it was not enough to make up her handicap so it was Magic Carpet Cubed, reigning world champion, which pocketed the win in this very decisive match together with outright victory. Deep Blue, the Botin 85 completes the podium.
A J Class in an IRC2 world: Topaz
The J Class Topaz masterfully controlled her best enemy Velsheda throughout today’s 25-mile-long course to finish first in elapsed time in IRC2, less than two minutes ahead of the 1933 J Class. In this way, she added a third win to her wonderful week and naturally takes home the Besserat de Bellefon Trophy for best in IRC2.
Jethou among the IRC3As
Jethou, Vesper, North Star all had a share of the glory in IRC3A, where the SNSM Trophy was awarded to the group of Maxi 72s. Jethou, Sir Peter Ogden’s Judel-Vrolijk design proved to be untouchable throughout the three races validated. North Star finished on a high with a second place in the race, but it was not enough to topple Vesper off her second spot overall.
Lyra (IRC3B) triumphs
Terry Hui’s Wally 77 Lyra triumphed this week in Saint Tropez, crushing the competition in IRC3B, an incredibly dense group boasting no fewer than 15 yachts measuring 65 to 80 feet. The 24-metre Frers design launched in 2000 played her rating to perfection to secure two bullets this week. Today she let slide a few points against the Reichel Pugh 80 Capricorno and the other Wally Ryokan2, but still bagged overall victory and was naturally the best ranked Wally of the 6 yachts competing at Les Voiles, which are so cherished by Luca Bassani, claiming the Wally Trophy ahead of Ryokan2 and Magic Carpet Cubed.
Consistency wins the day for Bambo (IRC4)
Meantime, in IRC4, there was a big upset in the group of 60-foot Maxis featuring no fewer than 12 beautiful craft this week. Today’s race reshuffled the cards and saw yesterday’s loser triumph, Yan Cornic’s French Kiss taking the win in the last race. However, ultimately it was consistency that won the day with Bambo, the Schipman 63, snatching outright victory, ahead of Aloha, the CNB 77 and Ila1 the Bordeaux 60.
The 2021 Trophies
- Town of Saint Tropez Trophy: highest point-scoring Maxi, all categories combined: JETHOU, Sir Peter Ogden
- IMA Trophy: best ranked IMA boat: TOPAZ, Peter Holmberg
- WALLY Trophy: 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the WALLY ranking: 1st: LYRA (Terry Hui). 2nd: RYOKAN2 (Philippe Ligier). 3rd: MAGIC CARPET CUBED (Sir Lindsay Owen Jones)
- Yacht Club de France Trophy, club darling: SAIDA, Juerg Schneider
- Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez Trophy: First Maxi in elapsed time in IRC 1: COMANCHE, Mitch Booth
- North Sails Trophy: first Maxi in IRC 1: 1st MAGIC CARPET CUBED Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones – 2nd RAMBLER, George David – 3rd: DEEP BLUE, Wendy Schmidt
- Bessarat de Bellefon Trophy: first Maxi in IRC 2: 1st, TOPAZ, Peter Holmberg – 2nd VELSHEDA, Will Gibbon – 3rd: SILVER TIP, Bernard Sabrier
- SNSM Trophy: first Maxi in IRC 3 A: 1st JETHOU, Sir Peter Ogden – VESPER, Jim Schwartz – 3rd: NORTH STAR, Peter Dubens
- IR3B Trophy: 1st, LYRA, Terry Hui – 2nd, CAPRICORNO, Alessandro del Bono – 3rd: RYOKAN, Philippe Ligier
- Torpez Trophy: first Maxi in IRC 4: 1st, BAMBO, François Benais – 2nd ALOHA, Nicolas Piguet – 3rd ILA2, Nicolas Labessouille
Andrew McIrvine, Secretary of the International Maxi Association:
“It’s always possible to find ways of improving things, but this edition has been absolutely superb! The Race Committee has been very persistent and they were proven right with the weather today and we thank them for that as it was a fantastic race. The starting angle was perfect for all the boats to power up. It was a truly magnificent site. It’s remarkable to see the port of Saint Tropez brimming with Maxis. It’s been a long time since we’ve enjoyed such an extraordinary line-up: 45 craft. Their safety was guaranteed on the water and in port. We’ve created a ‘Line Honours’ trophy awarded to Comanche, which is penalised by her rating. The distribution of the boats per class will be the subject of a new formula next year to ensure even more sporting equity within the groups.”
Damien Durchon, boat captain Comanche:
“It was a more complicated day than forecast for Comanche. Rambler got off to a good start and we found ourselves in the middle of the fleet whilst they were powering along in open water. We managed to come back into it thanks to a final favourable beat. The strong swell didn’t favour our progress upwind, but the important thing for us was to win this race to follow up the two other victories early in the week. As such, we fulfilled our mission to win every race, to make up for the fact that we couldn’t beat our measurement handicap…”
See you again on Saturday 24 September 2022 for another edition!