Rohart and Pulfer win in the snow
As the snow kept falling and in minus temperatures the scene better resembled the Winter Olympics than a sailing regatta, Xavier Rohart of France and Serge Pulfer of Switzerland took first place with 17 points at the inaugural CNM Estates UK Star Championship held on the Royal Victoria Dock at the London Boat Show.
The Royal Thames Yacht Club ran the racing and the winners were presented with the Royal Thames Yacht Club's Fine Art Sails Regatta Trophy by The First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, at a prize giving hosted by the presenter Nick Knowles.
The team of Max Treacy and Anthony Shanks of Ireland finished second with 35 points while Andrew Simpson and Iain Percy of Great Britain totaled 37 points for third place in the event. "It wasn't ideal weather for sailing but it was a great day for racing and for fine art too. Top international sailors competing in an art gallery in motion. I can't wait until our next event," said Michael Ross, founder of Fine Art Sails and CNM Estates principal.
Ten Olympic Class Star keelboats got off to a chilly start on Friday, two snapping halyards in the frozen conditions. With 8- 10 knots of breeze, after the first day, Rohart and Pulfer were leading, ahead of Luke Patience of Great Britain. On Friday evening a Black Tie dinner at the Royal Thames Yacht Club raised funds for The Sea Cadets Charity, and cadets were keen to get involved with the racing and help their sailing heroes take to the water.
On Saturday, Iain Percy, who flew in from his Americas Cup team in San Francisco, took to the water and won the first race but picked up a penalty for being over the line. So Rohart and Pulfer maintained their lead over Treacy and Shanks.
Sunday brought very poor light and even heavier snow, making it painfully cold for the sailors who lightened the mood with an occasional snowball fight in the light airs. A second in Sunday's first race gained Rohart and Pulfer the winning title.
The 21 top international sailors included many European and World title holders. Olympic medallists were: triple Olympic medallist Iain Percy, double Olympic medallist Andrew Simpson, Beijing gold medalist Pippa Wilson, London silver medalists Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, Athens bronze medallist Xavier Rohart, Seoul gold medallist Mike Mcintyre, along with Serge Pulfer, Nick Eastwood, Sam McNamara and David Howlett.
Each mainsail was a unique artwork created by internationally known artists: Julian Opie, EINE, Jaime Gili, INSA, Eley Kishimoto, Wendy Taylor, Christian Furr, David Begbie, Pam Glew and Goldie. The sails featured a monochrome of giant facial features (David Begbie) titled An Eye For The Buoys, a silhouette of a woman (Julian Opie) titled Aniela, an African tribal child (Goldie) titled Lord of the Flies and a colourful abstract (Christian Furr) titled Pop Swirl amongst other awe-inspiring designs.
"The sailors really enjoyed sailing these works of art, something quite different for them, they all had a good time over the weekend despite the freezing conditions", said Peter Bonham Christie of Fine Art Sails.
The event was supported by AIG, Straight Eight Logistics and Tullett-Prebon, together with Lead Sponsor CNM Estates, jointly headed by property entrepreneur Michael Ross, the founder of Fine Art Sails.
Last years' Olympics showed how sailing can become a more popular spectator sport and according to Ross the concept of combining art and sailing has really fired people's imaginations and could go to other iconic locations around the world with Moscow, Baku, San Francisco, Auckland, and Stockholm expressing an interest.
"This is a completely new way for artists to exhibit their work. The Royal Victoria Dock became a living gallery, the artworks in constant motion, contrasting beautifully against each other. This has never been seen before," said Ross.