Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
While in some classes the victors are now close to being decided going into tomorrow’s last race for the 39 maxi yachts at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, more light conditions off the Cote d’Azur produced some new winners today.
In the southerly breeze, the race once again set sail from Pampelonne Bay, but with the race committee, including the International Maxi Association’s own Ariane Mainemare, sending the bigger maxi classes north towards Fréjus while the leeward mark for Maxi C and D was further west off Issambres, both groups ultimately finishing in the Golfe de Saint-Tropez.
However decisive is the situation in Maxi C where winning with a day to spare is International Maxi Association President Benoît de Froidmont and his 60ft Wallyño who have sewn-up their result, the only Maxi still racing with an unblemished four bullet scoreline.
Ultimately Wallyño beat Lady First 3 under IRC corrected time by 6 minutes 46 seconds with Marco Tursini’s Advanced 80 Mindfulness third.
Most hotly contested remains Maxi A where today separate battles were raging between the 100 footers and between the former Maxi 72s. Going into tomorrow’s final day three boats are separated by 0.7 points.
Particularly fierce was the contest between the 72ft Cannonball, helmed by her new owner Peter Harrison, and Peter Dubens’ North Star. After a start from Pampelonne Bay (following a short delay) in a 6 knot southerly, North Star led for most of the race, but approaching the leeward mark off Fréjus Cannonball was able to engage, forcing North Star to tack just short of the mark, although Peter Dubens’ team still managing to gain the inside berth at the mark, rounding with Cannonball just inches outside her.
Ultimately North Star prevailed, finishing just over a minute ahead of Cannonball, but with the former Maxi 72s only just making the podium today.
Finally scoring a bullet today was Wendy Schmidt’s 82ft Deep Blue, bouncing back after a start line collision with a rib on Wednesday had caused enough damage to put them out of that race (for which they received redress). Today they bounced back stronger than ever to take the Maxi A class bullet, elevating them to third overall behind Cannonball and North Star.
Winning on the water today was Chris Flowers’ 100ft Galateia, which finished second 1 minutes 10 seconds behind Deep Blue under IRC corrected time, despite having been locked in combat with Karel Komarek’s similarly-sized V (ex-Tango) for much of the race. “We were glued together – super close,” observed Galateia tactician Murray Jones.
Many gains were to be made from playing the topography-induced shifts, although at one point V found more pressure offshore and when they reconvened with the fleet she had done well. Galateia led around the leeward mark and at the finish off Saint-Tropez (in the best breeze of the day – around 10 knots) was first home, two minutes 20 seconds ahead on the water.
In Maxi B the unbroken string of wins for Terry Hui’s 77ft Lyra came to an end with the Chinese-Canadian’s team third behind her seven-year-younger sistership, Sven Wackerhagen’s Rose and Thomas Biton’s 72ft Aragon.
Finally in Maxi D Jurg Schneider’s Swan 65 Saida scored her second bullet of the series. However Matteo Fossati’s 64ft Stella Maris still leads overall. Jerome Bataillard’s Shipman 63 Sao Bernardo was third today behind Stella Maris.
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is organised by the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, part of the French Sailing Federation, in collaboration with the city of Saint-Tropez, the International Maxi Association (IMA) and the support of the Yacht Club de France. It is the final event of the IMA’s Mediterranean Maxi Inshore Challenge.
Tomorrow’s final day of racing for the maxis will set sail at 1200 with a forecast that is similarly light but sailable.