Mari Cha IV out ahead

Brisk conditions at the Voiles de St Tropez

Sunday October 10th 2004, Author: Denis van den Brink, Location: France
With one day to go till the end of the sixth edition and the prizegiving everyone has been preparing to go out in style at the 2004 Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.

The wind like the sun co-operated today with a fine 16 knot northeasterly at the start of the day which increased progressively to a 20 knot easterly off the Golfe de Saint-Tropez kicking up a short chop adding to the drama for spectators and photographers.

All of the two fleets took to the water today, although the rough conditions brought about two dismastings: Philippe Monnet’s Lys in the Classic class and Linuel from the ORC D Class in the Modern section. There was also a collision between Loki and Eileen, both in the Classic class.

In the Modern class, the big boats were able show their full potential and Robert Miller's 140ft ocean racing ketch Mari Cha IV once again showed a clean pair of heels to the whole Wally and ORC A fleet. “It’s a boat with incredible potential” commented trimaran Loïck Peyron racing on board today. “You really get the sensation that it’s a thoroughbred race. Our speed peaked at 23 knots at one point downwind!” This was the same as the wind speed.

The maxZ86 Pyewacket, Roy Disney's Transpac winner, was also sailing at full speed today to the extent that she even broached the her start line spinnaker in the water, forcing the sail to be dropped.

In the Wally division, the new Alexia remains ahead of Kauris III, Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Magic Carpet Squared and Y3K.

In terms of elapsed time results Mari Cha IV continues to lead, followed by Pyewacket, Alexia, Magic Carpet Squared, Kauris III, Y3K, Tiketitan, Tiketitoo, Mike Slade's Leopard of London and Black Dragon.

The strong winds proved a handful for the Classic yachts today. Despite reduced sail their decks were completely awash and the sailors completely soaked. Though the large boats like Thendara, Belle Aventure, Mariquita and Cambria were savouring the conditions, the small boats had a particularly bumpy ride off La Seiche à l'Huile mark.

The smaller vessels like Esterel and Bobkat II helmed by America's Cup designer Doug Peterson, Bona Fide, Giorgia, Viken and Tom Tit, the smallest Classic in the regatta, spent a wet but exhilarating day out on the water. In terms of elapsed time, the Bruce King designed maxi Hetairos holds pole position followed by White Fin, Volterra and Finsco with 12M JI Challenge 12 in fifth position.

Titbits

- Among the boats taking part in the Voiles de St Tropez, Moonbeam III is unquestionably one of the stars. Christened in Fairlie at the mouth of the river Clyde near Glasgow, Scotland, in 1903, she celebrated her 100th birthday last year and though often compared to Tuiga, she is very different. Moonbeam III was launched in 1903 while Tuiga was not launched until 1909. These were six important years as between these dates, the International rule for 15 Metre boats came into existence.

With an increased freeboard and beam, a reduced sail area and an increased weight, Moonbeam III likes the breeze and the rough sailing conditions more than the narrower Tuiga. Despite this Moonbeam III is one of the world’s most spectacular gaff rig cutters. Launched under the number 491 from the legendary shipyard Fife, Moonbeam was the third boat of that name. On her launch she had a yawl rig and was not fitted with her present gaff cutter rig until much later.

- In the Vieux Port of St Tropez leading French offshore sailor and Mari Cha IV crewman Jacques Caraes won the skulling contest.

- Aside from the racing at Voiles de St Tropez there is an additional prize in the form of the Trophée de l'Elégance. This is being presented by the Gassin Golf Country Club, partner to nautical events along this peninsula since 2003, and the Port of Saint-Tropez. The qualities sought after by the jury are each boat's aesthetics, the quality of the manoeuvres on exiting and entering the port, as well as the attitude and dress of her crew.

One of the 'Great Ladies of Yachting' under consideration will doubtless be Aile VI. In 1927, Virginie Hériot, heiress to the Grands Magasins of the Louvre, already owned two steam boats, the former schooner, Météor IV of the Kaiser and five 8M JIs. She narrowly missed out on Olympic selection in 1924 but succeeded in 1928 and performed so well that she won the Amsterdam Olympic Games that year on Aile Vi, helming with architect Pierre Arbaut as crew.

Translation Kate Jennings

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