Expectation is growing for tomorrow, Thursday 29 September, when over twenty yachts will line up for the 11th edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy, the traditional rendez-vous at the Voiles de Saint-Tropez.
Back in 2011 the Gstaad Yacht Club launched a regatta, unique in its genre, reserved to boats that are one hundred or more years old, and over the years, the Centenary Trophy has grown and got a familiar “rendez-vous” at the Voiles de Saint Tropez.
This year is no different, with no less than 21 boats ready to battle for the 2022 title, and since the Mistral blowing in the bay of Saint Tropez has forced the organisers of the Voiles to cancel racing on the first two days, it will be also a debut for the classics yachts in this year’s event.
Three-time winner and defending champion of the GYC Centenary Trophy, Olympian (1913) will be on the starting line as well as the 2015 and 2016 winners: Oriole (1905) and the NYYC 50′ class Spartan (1912), and the faithful of the event, Marga (1910), Nin (1913) and Lulu (1897).
“I believe Lulu has raced all the editions, we come to Saint-Tropez every year and I don’t think we’ve missed out on participating to the Centenary Trophy. It’s very nice to participate in a regatta featuring centenarians only. And the handicap format is very good, especially for us because we have the smallest rating in the fleet, which means that we start first, we can see where we are placed on the race course and watching all these boats that parade around us, it is a real joy!” Declared Bernard Manuel, owner of Lulu.
The Centenary Trophy is raced in a pursuit format with staggered starts, that has proved extremely attractive for the sailors and the public alike over the years, using an especially created and constantly refined handicap system, allowing very different boats in size and rig to compete on equal terms.
The first starting signal will be at 12:30 pm, the first boat to set off will be Lulu (1897) and the last Fife’s designed ketch Sumurun (1914).
Despite having a crew made of top, experienced sailors led by Brazilian tactician Torben Grael, Italian flagged gaffer Scud (1903) designed by American Nathanael Herreshoff, has never succeeded to win the regatta. “We took part twice with Linnet (the NYYC 30 gaff sloop also owned by Italian Patrizio Bertelli) and a couple of times with Scud, we couldn’t race last year because of the pandemic. So we are very happy to be back racing. It’s great to sail with the same crew, we try to push the boat as much as possible, but taking care and respecting her at the same time. She’s still a one hundred year lady! The good thing about the Centenary Trophy is that there are more and more yachts turning centenarians so we’ll never be short of entrants and new competitors.” Commented Grael.
The youngest centenarian taking part in the Centenary Trophy is also the smallest yacht in the regatta, the tiny sloop Marconi Dainty (1922), that can boast an impressive racing record “We feel very honoured to be invited to such a special race, and we sure do our best to win it!” Said Dainty’s skipper Peter Nicholson.
The oldest boat, the pilot cutter Madcap (1874), is also a debutant in the Centenary Trophy. “Madcap is a Bristol pilot cutter from 1874, the only function of these boats was to drop off a pilot on board boats returning from the Indies, the Islands. Our main goal for this Centenary Trophy is to have fun! For all the sailors on board, it’s a dream come true and if we can score a decent result, we will. We’ll do everything we can to finish well.” Said Christian Hurreau, president of the Madcap 1874 Association.
“The Gstaad Yacht Club is very pleased to be in this fantastic event, the show is just amazing with all these boats moored in Saint Tropez old port, and it is a privilege to be able to host the Centenary Trophy in this very special setting. We’re grateful to the owners and crews who are faithful to our event and come back year after year, and the the new entrants too. I wish great racing to all of them tomorrow, we can’t wait to see these old beauties battling for the title.” Declared Alejandro Dahlhaus, Rear Commodore of the Swiss club.
More information and a gallery of stunning pictures from past editions can be found at the newly launched Centenary Trophy website: gyccentenarytrophy.com
The Centenarian Award
The Centenarian of the Year Award, organised by Classic Boat magazine and the Gstaad Yacht Club, was launched in 2017. Any boat of 100 years or more, which is still sailed in a largely authentic way, is eligible. The independent panel of judges considers any kind of sail boat, including cruising boats, race yachts and former work boats. Each boat should have achieved something significant in the past year, be it a long cruise, a race win, a major restoration or something else noteworthy. The winner is announced at the annual Classic Boat Awards, held at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in London and awarded with a Sterling Silver Cup, sponsored by Robbe & Berking Silver manufacturer.
The 2022 winner is Firefly, a Gaff Yawl dated from 1922, designed by Albert Strange (#119) and later modified by Harrison Butler to a Yawl Rig with her draught reduced for use on the Norfolk Broads (U.K.) as per the wish of her first owner, Robert Lamb. She was originally built as an auxiliary sloop in a way to cope with being beached in mudflats of estuaries. Firefly is owned by the Clay Family since 1934, passing her from one generation to the following, a rare example of long-term ownership.
You may view the 2022 Centenarian Award nominees HERE.
Past winners of the Centenary Trophy
2011: Bonafide (1899)
2012: Marigold (1892)
2013: due to adverse weather conditions the title was not awarded
2014: Olympian (1913)
2015: Oriole (1905)
2016: Spartan (1913)
2017: Tilly XV (1912)
2018: Tilly XV (1912)
2019: Olympian (1913)
2021: Olympian (1913)