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Down to the Wire at Les Voiles de St Barth 2011

As if to ensure that competitors had seen all the beaches and sights that St. Barth has to offer, race officers today sent the 48-boat Les Voiles de St. Barth fleet on its final circumnavigation counter-clockwise around the eight-square mile island: a 30-nautical mile course for the Maxis, and a 23-nautical mile course for the Racing, Racing Cruising, Classics, and Multihulls. This morning, rain clouds scudded over the island, which by the 1100 start time caused some impressive shifts in wind direction and velocity on the right side of the race course. Once around the southern end of the island, the boats were into a 17 knot east-southeasterly with a three-foot sea. While it qualified as the lightest wind speeds for the week, it still ranked as great sailing conditions.

At the Maxi start, it was “all to play for” for Genuine Risk (USA), which trailed Rambler 100 (USA) by one point in the overall standings. With the pin end heavily favored, the Dubois-designed 97 footer came down the line on starboard, crossing Rambler’s bow and tacking over to weather at the gun. The first beat to the offset was more like a fetch, which the big boats easily laid. Around the east side of the island, with spinnakers set, Genuine Risk managed to draw even with Rambler. Though Rambler’s skipper Ken Read explained how it had shredded its running spinnaker in practice before the regatta, the canting-keeled 100-footer didn’t appear to suffer too much and made it around the race course in two hours flat. The USMMA-owned Genuine Risk did a great job of keeping the pressure on and finished 11 minutes behind, missing out on beating Rambler on corrected time by only two minutes.

Peter Harrison’s (GBR) Sojana, a 115-foot Farr design, with a who’s who of sailing talent including Peter Holmberg (St. Thomas, USVI) and French sailing legends Lionel Pean and Jacques Vincent, was hard-pressed against the two maxis and turned in a steady performance with a string of third places for third overall.

For the Racing class, a similar situation existed between Vesper (USA) and Antilope (NED), also a point apart. A win by Antilope would result in a tie that the Dutch boat would win in a count-back. So in a bit of David and Goliath action, Antilope went after Vesper at the start line and tacked in front of them, trying to engage them in a match race on the first beat. Vesper’s tactician Gavin Brady (Annapolis, Maryland) recalled that “before the start we talked about going after Antilope, and then decided to sail our own race. Then they came gunning for us!,” But the TP52 used its superior size and speed to make things difficult for the Grand Soleil 43 and managed to sail past its rival and push them back.

Brady described the somewhat tricky conditions, saying, “It was lighter today – well, 17 knots – so lighter for St Barth. We had a 40-degree wind shift in the rain shadow on the west side, and the breeze dropped to nine knots at one point. Then on the windward side there were some pretty big waves. We knew we couldn’t make any mistakes today. There were a lot of sail changes, and then we ripped one spinnaker and managed to nurse it into the bottom mark.” Vesper won Racing class overall with three wins and a second-place finish.

Local talent Raymond Magras, on Speedy Nemo (St. Barth), had a third-place finish today, which moved him up past Peter Cunningham’s Farr 60 Venomous and secured the team a third place overall.

In Racing Cruising, there were a handful of boats in contention for first overall going into the last race, including Nix, Lost Horizon, and Black Hole, and last year’s class winner L’Esperance from nearby St. Maarten. In the end, it was Nico Cortlever’s Nix (NED), with its second win of the week, that prevailed. James Dobbs’ J/122 Lost Horizon had been on a roll, moving up the rankings through the week, but was stopped just short of a win, correcting out today three minutes behind Nix to finish the week in second overall. Frans Vandyk’s chartered Beneteau First 50 Black Hole (NED) managed to tread water and maintain its third place overall.

In the Classics, Mariella had it all but locked up for the overall win before today’s race. The majestic Fife yawl slipped around the island in three hours, securing her four wins in four races for first overall ahead of Donald Tofias’ (Newport, R.I.) graceful 76-foot W-class yacht White Wings. David Pertel’s (St. Barth) La Sirene finished the week in third place overall.

The Multihull class began the regatta with five boats, and by the final day was almost down to the last man standing as John Winter (USA) on the 80′ Fat Cat continued his sweep of the class with a fourth bullet. Eric Coulombel’s (FRA) 40-foot trimaran Dauphin Telecom finished second overall.

As the competing yachts crossed the finish line they were greeted by a tender manned with Les Voiles de St. Barth officials, who presented each of the crews with a bottle of Taittinger champagne – and thus putting a final French touch on a ritual that in other parts of the world involves iced cold beer.

Les Voiles de St. Barth 2011 Prizegiving
Tonight’s prize giving will take place at 6pm on the Quai General de Gaulle, where the winners of each class will be presented their awards.

The winner of the Maxi class overall, George David from Rambler 100, will be presented with a Richard Mille limited edition RM028 Voiles de St. Barth watch.

The winners of the Racing, Racing Cruising, Classic, and Multihull classes will each be presented with a week’s villa stay by WIMCO Villas and Sibarth Villas, which both specialize in luxury villa rentals.

Other awards will be presented to class and daily race winners. The following event sponsors have supported Les Voiles de St. Barth 2011:
Gaastra
Collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy
Banque des Antilles Françaises
Hôtel Guahanani & Spa
Association des Hôteliers de Saint-Barthélemy
Comité Territorial du Tourisme de Saint-Barthelémy
Coca-Cola
Champagne Taittinger
Mount Gay Rum

Following the prize giving, there will be a Fireworks display over Gustavia Harbor at 8pm and a concert by the band “Days of Wild” at 9pm.

What they said ~

Ken Read (in advance of today’s race)
We give Genuine Risk a little over eleven minutes per hour, right around that range; so in a 30-mile race, an hour and a half, maybe. These boats are pretty quick; it’s pretty phenomenal how fast you can get around the track. You’re racing against the clock more than you’re racing against the other boat. We have to get to a point where we hardly see them, that’s really kind of the goal.

We like to reach. They are a little quicker dead downwind and we owe them a lot of time. That’s not a perfect point of sail for us; upwind and reaching, that’s great. We have one problem; we blew up our running spinnaker practicing and that’s kind of put us behind the eight ball. No matter what, it’s a good, fun race course – this is the classic race course, that’s what you come here for.

Yesterday we did a nice job, had a good first beat, first reach, first few legs, and developed a nice cushion for ourselves. The day before, we just didn’t sail very well. I think if we sail well, we should be in reasonable shape.”

Ralf Steitz, Strategist on Genuine Risk, and Offshore Sailing Director at USMMA Sailing Foundation
“Genuine Risk is owned by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Sailing Foundation in King’s Point, N.Y. We have a bunch of Swedish people on board. We’ve done a collaboration where we’ve raced in the Pineapple Cup, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and now St. Barth, and then we’re going to Antigua. We’re trying to get young people into sailing as much as we can, and have as much fun as we can.

“It’s spectacular sailing here in St. Barth…sailing around the rocks that are not in the right place. I know the rocks have been there for a long time, but the chart makers haven’t caught up. So, it’s entertaining, it’s fun, the conditions are awesome, the people are nice, and we’re having a ball! Today we’re going to stick it to the Rambler guys, we’re going to beat them and win the regatta – it’s perfect!

“We may lose some of the guys to the French women. They’re very beautiful, so the guys are very excited about that. They’re not used to nude beaches in the U.S., and in Sweden it’s too cold.

Jim Swartz, Vesper:
“I’ve been here a number of times, but this is our second time sailing in this regatta; it’s one of my favorites really. What’s not to like about the food, and everything French, so it’s a real treat. And the sailing’s fantastic: predictable winds, big seas, and blue water – its fabulous!

“We’re the new kid on the block, so we’ll have a run for right now, and then another boat will come along. But for now, it’s fun.

“The big attraction for me to get into the TP52s? I like one-design racing, a box rule, where handicaps aren’t so important. There are a number of boats being built every year, and a lot of them are finding their way to the used market. There’s a group of 10-15 boats scattered through the U.S., and if we can get a group of them down here next year, that would be fabulous.”

Nico Cortlever, Nix
“We are very happy that we did a very good job here; we didn’t expect it. There’s so much competition here, as equal qualities as we, so we were just lucky. The time difference (between the boats) is very small, so we are very close, and you know almost immediately how you did.

“We have an excellent team from my sailing club in Loosdrecht, The Netherlands. Yesterday we had a problem; we had a lobster pot under the keel. We couldn’t get it off, so we were only fourth. So, we had to be first today to win the overall.”

RESULTS – For full results, go to event site at: http://bit.ly/fSHR6O
Place, Boat Name, Skipper, Race 1-2-3-4, Total Points

MAXI

  1. Rambler 100, George David/Ken Read (Hartford, Conn./Newport, R.I.), 1-2-1-1, 5.0 points
  2. Genuine Risk, Hugo Stenbeck (USA), 2-1-2-2, 7.0 points
  3. Sojana, Marc Fitzgerald (GBR), 3-3-3-3, 12.0

RACING

  1. Vesper, Jim Swartz (Park City, Utah), 2-1-1-1, 5.0 points
  2. Antilope, Willem Wester (NED), 1-2-2-2, 7.0
  3. Speedy Nemo, Raymond Magras (St. Barth, FWI), 4-5-4-3, 16.0

RACING CRUISING

  1. Nix, Nico Cortlever (NED), 2-1-4-1, 8.0 points
  2. Lost Horizon, James Dobbs, (Antigua, W.I.), 4-3-1-2, 10.0
  3. Black Hole, Frans Vandyk (NED), 1-2-6-4, 13.0

CLASSIC

  1. Mariella, Carlo Falcone (ITA), 1-1-1-1, 4.0 points
  2. White Wings, Faraday Rosenberg (Newport, R.I.), 2-2-2-2, 8.0
  3. Kate Dutch Sailing Team, Philip Walwyn (St. Kitt’s, W.I.), 3-3-3-3, 12.0

MULTIHULL

  1. Fat Cat, John Winter (USA), 1-1-1-1, 4.0 points
  2. Bordelo, Stephane Penigaud (St. Barth, FWI), 2-2-3-5, 12.0
  3. Dauphin Telecom, Erick Clement (FRA), 6-3-2-2, 13.0

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