Racing canned

Mistral blows through the Voiles de St Tropez

Wednesday October 4th 2006, Author: Susan Maffei-Plowden, Location: France
The Les Voiles fleet awoke to a crystal clear morning with an azure sky and seas. The day would have been perfect, without the mistral that appeared in the morning. By 1030 this morning, the race committee of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez made the obvious decision to cancel racing given the forecast for the wind to increase to 40+ knots through the day. While many yachts and crew in the fleet were more than prepared for some heavy air sailing, it is almost impossible to safely get all of the yachts off the quay and back again safely.

For the 3,000 sailors along the quay in Saint-Tropez, the mood was festive as they ran into old acquaintances and enjoyed a drink in the waterfront cafés. There was plenty of activity as crewmembers carried out tasks onboard the yachts, with a number of sailors aloft on the big gaffers doing routine maintenance and effecting some repairs.

Tuesday's results were finalised late last evening and, in the end, it was Eleonora who won the 'big boat' class. In Epoque Marconi - Class A, the Fife yawl, Mariella was first. Owner/Skipper Carlo Falcone is an enthusiastic competitor who has raced Mariella in classic yacht regattas on both sides of the Atlantic, from his home waters of Antigua to the classic circuit around the Mediterranean - sailing the boat on its own bottom back and forth. Of his win yesterday, he said, "We were with the 12 metres around the course, though they point higher we held our own...and had some exciting moments with (the 23 metre) Cambria, who crossed us on starboard...this year we are going for it - we are looking for a win this week!"

In Epoque Gaff - Class C, local knowledge seemed to pay off for Lelantina, the John Alden-designed gaff schooner. They stayed with the breeze all day managing to get within 100 metres of the finish before the wind shut down. Lelantina finished first, but it was a race of attrition for many classes, with a large part of the fleet dropping out when the wind died.

Keeping to the regatta format, today's race is canceled and not carried over. For Thursday, the showcase will be the 3rd annual Trophee Mer & Bateaux de la Grande Classe, which is an invitational race for the big classic yachts. This year's entries include Altair, Cambria (current title holder), Eleonora, Lulworth, Mariette, Mariquita, Moonbeam IV, Shamrock V, Sumurun, Sunshine and Velsheda.

As well tomorrow, if the west wind allows, the racing will follow tradition as the 'day of challenges'. The course is simple: from le Tour du Portalet around La Nioulargue shoal with the finish off Club 55 on the beach in Pampelonne.

New this year, the Trophée Rolex will be awarded to the 'Tradition' division sailing yacht of more than 16 metres, which has the lowest score for the regatta (not including Thursday's racing). There are 52 boats eligible for the Trophée Rolex, and the winner will also receive a steel Rolex Submariner timepiece.

Fleet racing for both Moderns and Classics continues on Friday and Saturday. The prizegiving ceremony will take place on Sunday October 8th, from 1100 at the Citadelle.

Preliminary Results: Classic/Tradition Division, Tuesday, Oct 2nd

Epoque Gaff - Class A:
1) Eleonora, Zalz Zbynek
2) Moonbeam IV, Plumptre Ltd
3) Altair, Joe Pytka

Epoque Gaff - Class B
1) Marilee
2) Bona Fide, Guiseppe Jiordano
3) Oriole, Alain Aubry

Epoque Gaff - Class C
1) Lelantina, Patrick Gilbert
2) So Fong

Epoque Marconi - Class A
1) Mariella, Carlo Falcone
2) Agneta, Markus Sheweiger
3) Cambria, Chris Barkham

Epoque Marconi - Class B
1) Cotton Blossom, Dennis Conner
2) Anne Sophie, Hans George Klein
3) Classic Addy, Hank Bouma

Epoque Marconi - Class C
1) Cholita, Maria Linda Nettis
2) Tamara IX, Doug Peterson
3) Havsornen

Spirit of Tradition
1) Shamrock V, Georges Mueller
2) Finsco, Willi Balz
3) Savannah, Canfield Ciaran

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez in brief :
8th edition - Created in 1999 as a replacement for La Nioulargue (1981- 1995)
Modern division, 155 entries
Tradition division, 111 (Rolex Trophy, 52)
Spirit of Tradition division: 21

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