The first edition of Les Voiles de Saint Barth – a new nautical event launched by the island of St Barthélemy and its Tourism Committee in conjunction with the Port of Gustavia and the St Barth Yacht Club – was deemed a success. With four days of racing, April 7 – 10, and 23 boats divided into five classes, the participation in this first year was lighter than the organizers had hoped for, but with a large budget and major sponsors – such as Richard Mille watches, Mount Gay Rum, and Tattinger Champagne among others – the event seems to have made a big enough splash to attract a much larger number of boats in 2011.
The five classes this year were Super Yacht, Classic, Racing, Racing-Cruising, and Racing-Multihull. Good winds and sunny weather prevailed and allowed for great racing. On day one, with 19 knots of wind from the East-Northeast, the boats enjoyed two courses set up by race director, French sailor Luc Poupon: 29 miles for the Super Yachts and 25 miles for the other classes.
Some of the best duels on the water were between the sloop Rambler and the ketch Sojana. Rambler ultimately won the Super Yacht class, but it was a bittersweet win, as a member of their crew, Australian sailor Peter "Spike" Doriean, died in a tragic accident (not related to the boat) the Monday before the race started. The crew decided to race in his memory, and putting their heart into it, took top honors. (A fund – http://www.dorieanfamilyappeal.com/index.html – has been set up to take donations for Doriean's wife and two small children).
Another close battle was between the two entries from the stable of Donald Tofias, his 76' W-Class beauties White Wings and Wild Horses. With Tofias at the helm of Wild Horses, he prevailed after four days of racing to win the Classic division, but Faraday Rosenberg and her all-female crew aboard White Wings certainly gave him a run for this money and provided a great sailing match between these sister boats.
On day two, April 8, the wind increased to an average of 20 knots and the boats were having a blast as they sailed around the island. Day three saw more of the same, with a new challenge of 19 miles for the smaller boats and 30 miles for the bigger yachts, or roughly halfway around the island and back. Day four, April 10, was another race around the island, roughly 22 miles, with another great performance and a fourth consecutive win in the Racing-Cruising class for Robert Velasquez, of Bobby's Marina in St. Maarten aboard L'Espérance, beating the Saint Barth local entry, Raymond Magras' Speedy Nemo, who took a well deserved second place in that class.
The awards ceremony took place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 10 on a stage built as part of the race village on the main dock, with fashion photographer Patrick Demarchlier, the "godfather" of the race, on hand along with Bruno Magras, the president of the Collectivity of Saint Barth and Anne Dentel, representing the island's hotel association. The next day, a large picnic was organized on the beach in Colombier to conclude this first edition of the event.
Tired but pleased, François Tolède, president of the organization committee for Les Voiles de Saint Barth, noted that everyone was satisfied with the results of their efforts and were ready to start working on next year: "We'll be back," he said.
Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2010 Winners
Classic: Wild Horses
Racing: Lost Horizon
Racing Cruising: L'Espérance
Super Yacht: Rambler