Returning to defend their title in the maxi yacht class for the second edition of Les Voiles de Saint Barth, George David's Rambler 100 blazed to the finish line and once again took top honors over four days of racing, finishing 1-2-1-1 for the week.
"We are delighted with the way the boat handles and our ability to sail one hundred percent even on the shorter courses," said skipper Ken Read. His biggest opponent was the 97-foot Dubois-designed Genuine Risk, who fought as hard as possible to overcome the imposing Rambler. "It was very difficult to win," said Read. "Genuine Risk is a well-sailed boat, with a lot of the Swedish America's Cup team onboard. It's a canting-keeled boat, different from ours, but still high performance. We had our work cut out for us."
Sir Peter Harrison's Farr 115 Sojana, with such great sailors as Peter Holmberg, Lionel Pean, Jacques Vincent, and Brian Thompson aboard, finished third overall.
With racing held from April 5th to the 9th (April 7th is a lay-day for the skippers to relax at Nikki Beach in Saint Jean), the 2011 edition of Les Voiles de Saint Barth firmly established this regatta as a major Caribbean nautical event. This was reflected in the numbers with almost 50 boats on the start line, twice the size of the inaugural edition of the race last year.
From event organizer François Tolede; to race director Luc Poupon (himself an accomplished sailor who lives on the island), the staff of the Saint Barth Yacht Club, the Port of Gustavia, and all sponsors (including Richard Mille watches, Gaastra sportswear and Coca-Cola) down, the event assumed an air of maturity. This feeling of 'coming of age' spread to the races themselves and the numerous cocktail parties and concerts on shore.
One of the nice things about Les Voiles is the presence of local boats and island-based amateur sailors, such as Raymond Magras with Speedy Nemo, third in the racing class, and boats from neighboring islands such as Carlo Falcone's 1938 Alfred Mylne 80-foot Fife Mariella from Antigua, which sailed to victory in the classic class. Four yachts competed in classic class, with second place going to Donald Tofias' W76 White Wings, based in St Barth every winter and skippered by Faraday Rosenberg. Third place went to the beautiful gaff yawl Kate, from St. Kitts.
The next edition of Les Voiles de Saint Barth will take place April 2nd to 7th 2012. For complete details about the regatta, visit: www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com
Ellen Lampert-Gréaux lives in Saint Barthélemy where she is editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine, and has been a regular contributor to All At Sea since 2000. She writes regularly about entertainment design and technology for Live Design magazine, and about Caribbean architecture for MACO, a Trinidad-based lifestyle magazine.