Glamour incorporated

Voiles de St Tropez in full swing

Thursday October 6th 2005, Author: Denis van den Brink, Location: France
From Fréjus to Pampelonne, the 250 boats competing in the Voiles de St Tropez are setting the waters of the Cote d'Azur alight this week. The Modern yachts, including Black Dragon, Wallys, Maxi Dolphins, with Mari-Cha IV and Velsheda in the lead crisscross the entrance to the bay, reaching across in the SSE wind, while the Classics come storming across from the far end of the Gulf in the wake of Cambria, heading for the Lion de Mer. In the early afternoon the whole bay is nothing but a frantic and acrobatic display of spinnakers and staysails of gennakers and code zeros going aloft. Sunshine, a calm sea, a steady wind and the finest yachts in the world - this is the Voiles de St Tropez!

Grouped between the Plage des Salins and Pampelonne, the Modern yachts wasted no time today before getting down to business, thanks to a steady breeze, first a little east of south-east, then becoming a fuller 15 knot southeasterly. Heading off into the wind a little after 12:45, the eight Wallys competing made good progress to the first buoy 1.6 nautical miles upwind from the start line, rounding to set either gennakers or code zeros.

First at the line, Morgen Bergesen’s enormous ketch Nariida struggled to keep up with Alexia, as ever unstoppable and first to hoist a giant spinnaker and head for Fréjus and the long 25-mile course in the bay.

Meanwhile the IRC Class As were bearing down like a pack of wolves on the line – more specifically the committee boat, since the favourable conditions to the right encouraged all the big boats to set off on starboard tack from the same end of the line. Shouts here, alarms there, and maximum caution shown by the magnificant J-Class yacht Velsheda which avoided a collision by a massive luff below the line. After this overheated start everyone sought a fresh breeze, and a familiar hierarchy emerged. Yesterday’s two rivals for the Tropezian crown, James Carroll’s Black Dragon and Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet, rounded the first buoy together and set off side-by-side on the spinnaker run, each trying to steal the other’s wind. The chasing group of Swan 601s was led by Leonardo Ferragamo’s Cuordileone ahead of Artemis and Philippe Meyer’s Carbon Arrow, already in the shadow of Robert Miller's 140ft ketch Mari Cha IV, steered by Loïck Peyron many of the top French names - Halvard Mabire, Marc Guillemot, etc.


Grande Classe and Club 55 Cup

For many years the Club 55 Cup was the flagship event of the Nioulargue. The idea is simple: Ikra, the International 12 which is one of the two yachts involved in the very first race throws down a challenge to the boat of her choice over the legendary course: Portalet, Nioulargue shoal, and back to the Club 55. The rules lay down that a free lunch will be served to the crews of both boats after their fight to the finish, provided that the winner agrees to accept a new challenge for the title the following year.

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