New heights

Ramping up for the 2006 Voiles de St Tropez

Tuesday September 19th 2006, Author: Maguelonne Turcat, Location: France
This year, more than ever, the Voiles de Saint-Tropez is lining up to be an unmissable event. The 25th anniversary of the original Nioulargue will feature more attractive race courses, a gathering of all Eric Tabarly's Pen Duicks, and courses particularly designed for the Big Class, a new monohull series, an enhanced program ashore, new partners, and reinforced security zones. The 2006 running of the race promises to be the best yet.

Modern Classes

It’s the biggest of the modern class participants at 42.3 meters -- and its characteristic silhouette will once again be one of the many attractions of the fleet at St. Tropez. Her name is Mari Cha IV, Robert Miller's Atlantic 140ft record-holding schooner, and she will again be at Saint Tropez, skippered on this occasion by Volvo Ocean Race winner, New Zealander Mike Sanderson.

As far as prototypes go, this will be an opportunity to see the newest Wally creation. Moored in the Old Port and on the water off Saint-Tropez’ will be Tango, the latest Wally 80 designed by Farr with Lanzzarini Pickering’s interior design. The concept is based around the large interior of cruising yacht, notably a giant skylight in the cabin top to allow daylight to stream into the saloon. This 24.30m yacht won the Wally Class at Portofino, the boat's first race.

Bénéteau are responsible for building 20% of the participating yachts, making them the most represented in Saint-Tropez and confirming their position as the number one pleasure-boat builder in the world. Most popular is their First 28, but this is just one of 11 different one design classes, including the A40s, Tofinou, Swan 45, and the First 40.7 to name a few. Each class will receive its own trophy at the end of the regatta.

The BMW Trophy of Innovation and Design, created in 2004, will once again be awarded. Last year the winner chosen by the jury, under the direction of Loïck Peyron, was the metallic-blue Swan 601 Artemis, skippered by three time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts.

Traditional Classes: A Myth Reconstructed

The return to the water of Lulworth, after more than 50 years of absence and five years of restoration, is an exceptional occasion. The biggest gaff cutter in the world - with a mast more than 46m tall - was relaunched last spring in Spezia, Italy. Built in England in 1920 from the design of Herbert W. White, the giant Lulworth which carried a working sail area of 855 sqm and a total sail area of 1,355sqm - was one of the most extreme yachts of her era. Half of its original structure and 80% of its interior fittings have been preserved, making Lulworth one of the most remarkable restoration stories in maritime history.

The 2006 event will also be marked by the extraordinary gathering of the Pen Duick fleet, assembled thanks to the Eric Tabarly Association and the great man's wife and daughter Jacqueline and Marie Tabarly. The fleet will be moored in front of the St Tropez Capitainerie, with the exception of Pen Duick VI, because of her draft. A special send-off will be given to the Pen Duicks for Thursday’s races.

As expected last year, the quadruple winner of the America’s Cup, Dennis Conner, will present his jewel to Saint-Tropez: Cotton Blossom II, a Bermudian sloop based on the 1924 plans of Johan Anker. The boat came out of a meticulous restoration headed by Conner for which he has won praise across the Atlantic. Cotton Blossom II is a Q class yacht, a class that had its heyday in the 1930s.

There are also high expectations for Eilidh, considered to be one of the masterpieces of the naval architect Alfred Mylne. The interior, specially designed in 1930 for an owner who was more than 1.9m tall, is particularly original, with a vast open saloon in two parts, and headroom that provides an exceptionally long deckhouse running just to the forward end of the boat. Also worth mentioning is Skylge, a spectacular 36m long schooner launched in 2006 by the Dutch builder Holland Jachtbouw. She will be the largest sailing boat in the 'Spirit of Tradition' class at Saint-Tropez – her main mast is more than 40m tall, with a foremast of more than 25m.

The hardest job will be for the jury of the Gaastra Elegance Trophy. They have the addition of the new special collection of clothing that will be used on land by more than 200 people and on sea by Lulworth among others.

On Land: A Completely New Village

Always looking for innovations to allow for a better reception of both participants and public ashore, the organisers have have taken a fresh look at the Village des Voiles, central to the event ashore. Their choice was for a new, mostly transparent, structure covering an area of more than 1,500sqm.


Saturday 30th – Monday 2nd October: Welcome and testing
Sunday 1st: Arrival of the Yacht Club de France’s Coupe d’Automne from Cannes
Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th (J. Laurain Day, Challenge Day, Trophée Mer et Bateaux (La Grande Classe), Club 55 Cup),
Friday 6th and Saturday 7th: Coastal course, 1st start 1200 hours GMT

Saturday 30th – Sunday 1st October: Welcome and testing
Monday 2nd, Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th (J. Laurain Day, Wally Day, Challenge Day)
Friday 6th and Saturday 7th October: Coastal course, 1st start 1130 hours

General prize-giving
Sunday 8th October, from 1100 hours

Monday 9th, Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th: Welcome, launching and testing
Wednesday 11th: Training race (coastal)
Thursday 12th, Friday 13th, Saturday 14th: Racing around the bay
Saturday 14th: Prize-giving, 1630 hours

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