Voiles de St Barts build-up marred by tragedy

More on the sorry loss of Peter Doriean and looking forward to the first day of racing

Tuesday April 6th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The build-up to the inaugural Voiles de St Barts regatta has been marred by the tragic news of the loss of well known Australian sailor Peter ‘Spike’ Doriean, who was to have been racing on board George David's maxi, Rambler. The 38 year old, who twice competed in the Volvo Ocean Race, died in an accident on Monday after slipping while taking a shower and hitting his head, that resulted in him suffering brain trauma.

American, Kenny Reed, turned up this morning aboard Rambler and was clearly shocked by the loss of Doriean. He stated that his crew was very distressed, but that it was the will of Spike’s close friends that his memory should be honoured by them taking part in the event. So it is with great sadness and with their friend and fellow crewman on their minds that the sailors on Rambler will be taking part in this first Voiles de Saint Barth.

Peter Doriean

Les Voiles comes to the Caribbean

Racing gets underway tomorrow and never has the sailing community on France's most glamorous 'Dom Tom' been so involved. 30 yachts and almost 200 sailors have turned up for this maiden event, which is set to become a regular on the Caribbean racing calendar.

The event conceived by François Tolède and Luc Poupon [brother of Philippe] of the St Barts Yacht Club. "The return of sailing to St Barts is in itself quite an event," explained Tolède. "From this first year we want to please sailors and partners and ensure that the organisation goes smoothly, as they will be our best ambassadors to spread the word to other yachtsmen. The island magic is already working ashore. Everything is planned out on the water, particularly in terms of safety, so that the event is a happy one both at sea and on land..."

Patron of this first Voiles de St Barts is photographer Patrick Demarchelier, who lives on the island and is forgetting for one moment the world of fashion to escape aboard his Swan: "I’ve been enjoying sailing in these waters for a long time. I am of course delighted that is now possible to organise an event, bringing together all the attractions of the island and the surrounding waters. The Voiles de Saint-Barts is clearly a wish come true, a dream being fulfilled you might say, for those, who sail in the waters of Newport, Antigua and even the Solent, who are coming here to do battle in the sunny trade winds. This first edition looks like being a huge success in every way and I do not doubt for a moment that the Voiles de Saint Barth will become an unmissable regatta in the international yachting calendar."

Whitbread Round the World Race winner, Lionel Péan, will be at the helm of Sojana, belonging to British former America's Cup campaigner, Peter Harrison. The big Farr-designed ketch has been a regular at yachting events in the Mediterranean and particularly the Caribbean since 2003 and Péan is pleased to be racing in waters he knows so well and considers to be the most attractive in the yachting world. "When the trade winds are blowing steadily in strength and direction - which looks like being the case this week - there are many possibilities open to the Race Committee for setting up tactically interesting races. There’s going to be some fine racing and that is something I enjoy..." he said.

Race Director, Luc Poupon, confirms this: “The high-pressure area will guarantee that we’ll be in trade winds that are steady in strength and direction veering a little bit easterly in the middle of the week.” The trade winds have been blowing strongly from the northeast since the start of the week and look like lasting throughout the regatta. But to be certain Poupon and his team have drawn up 20 different courses along the coast and around St Barts, with the aim of ensuring a fair fight between the five classes taking part.  The longest course is 32 miles and the shortest 15.

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