Rambler leads the charge
After an evening party to welcome everyone with music and a friendly atmosphere, racing started today for the 23 crews taking part in the inaugural Voiles de Saint Barth.
19 knots of ENE wind, flat calm seas on the leeward side of the island and brilliant sunshine of course, with two courses were set. The Classic and Racing Cruising yachts took to the leeward coast late in the morning, while the Super Yachts and the Racing class battled it out on the windward side with a heavy swell in the strong warm trade winds. The boats all came together between Boulanger Island and Forked Island for a final beam reach for the famous Sugar Loaf and the finishing line.
In the strong trade winds, those on the heaviest boats carrying the most sail enjoyed themselves, sometimes teetering on the crests of the steep waves. It was no surprise that at the end of two long tacks reaching, heading to Roubes Rocks on the southern shores of the island, it was George David's Rambler and Peter Harrison's larger ketch Sojana that appeared together. Meanwhile the elegant Joel White-designed boats in the W 76 class, Wild Horses and White Wings, past Coco Island, undertook a match race off the white beaches of Grande Saline.
Sojana crewman Karl James commented: "It’s really great to be able to sail with such an international crew. It’s nice too to be able to be alongside sailors with such varied experiences. Of course, I know the waters around St. Barts really well. It’s a magical location you never grow tired of. Sailing looks like it’s going to be rough with a very powerful trade wind. These are conditions that suit our ketch perfectly as she has a lot of inertia. The north-easterly trade wind will limit the funnelling effect and make sailing very straightforward."
Among the entries is Jim Swartz, who after a season in the STP65 class has returned to a Swan 601. Gavin Brady, back on board as Swartz's tactician, commented: "A great day’s sailing on a fantastic course, which offered us a number of wind and sea conditions. We had to remain focused from the start to the end of the race, as with all of the course marks you needed to be vigilant and look ahead. It was truly a great moment of sailing. Moneypenny loves this type of conditions, with strong winds and sometimes rough seas. The boat has been well prepared for this racing season and the crew knows the boat so well that we find it easy to adapt to any new situation. Rambler and Sojana are not really in our class and it will be difficult for us to compete with them. But as long as the courses remain complicated and tricky, we are going to enjoy sailing here."