Brisk final day
The final day of racing at Les Voiles de St Barth served up lively conditions for the fleet, with 20+ knots of wind whipping up four- to six-foot seas. The race committee sent the Maxi/Racing, Maxi, and Spinnaker 1 and 2 classes on a 17 mile course along the western side of the island, somewhat protected by the lee of the land, but nevertheless providing shifty conditions. Spinnaker 3, Melges 24, Classic, Non-Spinnaker, and Multihull classes sailed a 26 mile course around the islands off the north and east side of St Barths, fully exposed to the fresh beeze and ocean swell.
The conditions took their toll on a few boats, starting with Team Island Water World (SXM), Fritz Bus’s Melges 24. The Dutch boat was leading its class on the first downwind leg, but dismasted when the backstay let go, ending the St. Maarten team’s chance of winning. Several boats blew out spinnakers and headsails, and the 51ft Augie Neilsen-designed ketch Saphaedra (USA), raced doublehanded by skipper Jamie Enos and Amanda Sparks, retired with the skipper explaining: “Too much wind for an old boat!”
In Maxi/Racing, Jim Swartz’s TP52 Vesper extended her string of bullets to win the class. Swartz said: “This week has been pretty typical: constant wind, 15-17 knots, predictable but shifty, with challenging and nice waves on the backside of the island. Kind of a sailor’s paradise; the race committee does a great job, the people are terrific.”
In the Maxi class, the Swan 80 Selene continued her winning ways, sweeping ahead of Whisper and Idea of London (and the Swan 100 Varsovie, which retired from the regatta after damaging its headstay on the first day of racing).
In the Spinnaker 1 class, the standings going into today were close. Steve Cucchiaro’s Marten 49 Defiance (USA), which had a 1-1-2-2 score line, was feeling the heat from Music (RSA), the Swan 53, which posted two wins in yesterday’s racing to trail by a point. Today’s conditions and course suited the heavier Swan; however, the longer reaching legs did not. She finished fourth today to take second overall, conceding overall victory to Music, which won the race. The other Swan 53, Patrick Demarchelier’s Puffy (USA) – with Vendee Globe skipper Marc Guillemot helming – revelled in the breeze and posted a third place but settled for sixth overall in the end.
Dockside post-racing, James Blakemore, Music’s South African skipper, was delighted to find out that Music had saved its time by over a minute to win the day’s race and their class. “One of the successes we had was to go around the course without any major mishaps,” said Blakemore, “and so we sailed the course well with a really good all-round performance. Good conditions for us today, because we are a heavy boat and we prefer the stronger winds. We powered up really well and had a good downwind run at 9-12 knots.”
Sergio Sagramoso’s J/122 Lazy Dog (PUR) returned to form, posting a first today to finish three points ahead of Rohan Eamonn’s First 40 Ramanessin (IRL) in Spinnaker 2. The ebullient Puerto Rican sailor said: “This was probably our best season in the Caribbean: we won the Heineken Regatta, BVI Spring Regatta, were 2nd at International Rolex Regatta, and we’ve won this!”
About their competition on Ramanessin, he added, “They were very good. In fact they’ve been giving us headaches, and yesterday they beat us in one race, so we had to be on guard. They are Melges sailors, and they were learning more about the boat every day!”
In the Multihull class, Erick Clement’s 40ft Dauphine Telecom tried to spoil the 63ft Nigel Irens-designed Paradox’s (USA) party, and in fact came within one point of the overall leader, but Paradox went home with the silver.
In the Classics, Tim Rutter’s 74ft Frers-designed sloop Heroina (USA) romped around the course all week. The cold-moulded boat, built in the mid-1990s by German Frers as his personal yacht, seems to have racing in its lineage with a mast that was given to Frers from America’s Cup challenger Il Moro de Venezia (it was the team’s spare and effectively determined the boat’s size) and a winged keel from Stars and Stripes 1987. The keel was perfect for the shallow draft of Heroina’s home waters on the River Plate in Argentina.