As we draw ever closer to the third edition, Les Voiles de Saint-Barth, scheduled from 2nd to 7th April 2012, is continuing to engage in a steady development, following on from the success of the previous two editions, with the same goal in mind: the objective as ever will be to offer sailors from around the yachting world maximum enjoyment out on the water and ashore. With the support of their faithful partners, the organisers are doing their utmost to ensure that as many sailors as possible will be able to take advantage of the exceptional sailing conditions on offer in the magical setting of Saint-Barth.
The third edition is coming up and already Les Voiles de Saint-Barth can be proud of their rewarding third place ranking in the official list of Caribbean regattas. Peter Holmberg, the Olympic medallist and match-racing expert, who originally comes from the Virgin Islands, and his friends in the Caribean Sailing Association have put Les Voiles de Saint-Barth alongside the RORC 600 and the Heineken Regatta at the top of West Indian racing events. FranÃ§ois TolÃ¨de, Luc Poupon and the organising team are determined to keep the growth of the event under control and ensure that Les Voiles remains a fixture on the Saint-Barth calendar. Those involved in tourism have invested a lot to enable as many sailors as possible to stay here with their families and take advantage of this major week of racing.Â Â "Les Voiles de Saint-Barth is now recognised and esteeemedÂ by the leading economic players on the island,"Â explained FranÃ§ois TolÃ¨de ;Â "The tourism and hotel sectors have joined us in offering accommodation solutions to the racers.”
Accommodation, a welcome for families and friends of the crews, and the various leisure activities available ashore contribute to the success of the event. FranÃ§ois TolÃ¨de, the event organiser, is pleased that business leaders in the tourism sector on the island are there to help and do all they can to satisfy the requirements of the 70 or so owners and their crews that are expected to attend in April.
The racing element, which has already been heaped with praise will be stepped up, with careful attention paid to the race courses around the islands and rocks swept by the seas and the seasonal trade winds, to make them as technical and tactical as possible.Â In addition to the Maxi Yachts, Racing yachtsÂ (spinnaker and non spinnaker), Classic Yachts and Racing Multihulls may be joined by several TP52s following requests from a certain number of owners;Â "If there are more than five boats, we reserve the right to open a new class and they will have their own competition,"Â added FranÃ§ois TolÃ¨de.
Without over-estimating the demand, taking into account that the harbour in Gustavia can welcome 70 boats, Les Voiles de Saint-Barth event is getting ready to fill up. The concept of fine racing on the water and a friendly reception ashore, clearly pleases everyone. Peter Holmberg praises the wisdom of this approach and the perfect combination of racing and friendly gatherings ashore;Â "Les Voiles really do offer an intelligent concept. The organisers have managed from the outset to find the right formula, which pleases hardened racers and those competing for their own enjoyment."Â We can clearly see that it is the sailors themselves, who are now the best ambassadors for Les Voiles;Â "The message is clearly understood and is circulating around the racing world,"Â added Holmberg;Â "Saint-Barth is in the process of becoming a must on the event calendar in the Caribbean at this time of year. It is up to the organisers now to keep the growth of the event in check, so that it will remain one of the leading regattas in the Caribbean."
Sunshine, blue seas with a powerful swell created by the trade winds, with some amazing landscapes to discover with each change of tack is how Ken Read described it (Rambler and Puma), and then there are the countless charms of the island itself, which explains why so many skippers, owners and sailors from Australia, the United States and from around Europe have been won over by Saint-Barth in April, to the extent that it is now the place to be!
What they have said about the event
Ralf Steitz, Genuine Risk:
“Sailing in Saint-Barth early in the season is quite simply spectacular; you go all around these unchartered rocks. It’s extremely enjoyable, great fun, and the conditions simply incredible. The people are marvellous and last year we really enjoyed it a lot.”
Ken Read, Rambler 100:
"Les Voiles de Saint-Barth remains a very exciting event, great funâ€¦ and something we really look forward to…”
Jim Swartz, Vesper:
“I’ve been here many times now and took part in the first two editions of Les Voiles. This is my favourite event, to be honest. Racing in this little French location with its quality of life and fine diningâ€¦ The winds here are stable, the sea always lively and with an exceptional blue colour. Truly fabulous! We really enjoyed ourselves on Vesper. Sailing abaord a TP 52 was a very positive experience for me. I like one-design boats a lot, as you can compete on the same footing without having to worry about your handicap. Many TP52s are now built each year and you can find a lot for sale second-hand. There must be around ten or fifteen in the States and we’re going to try to get things organised to see if we can get a group together here. That would be fantastic!”
Emma Creighton (White Wings and Transat 6,50 in 2011):Â
"I have never missed out on racing in the Caribbean ever since I was young. Les Voiles de Saint-Barth brings together all the magical ingredients of this place to offer the only racing event of its kind in the world.”
Bouwe Bekking, Highland Breeze:
"I really enjoy being at the helm of a Maxi. The sailing conditions in Saint-Barth are absolutely fantastic, with lots of wind, lively seas and sunshineâ€¦ I fully intend to return next year with a competitive boat. This event has huge potential!"
Gavin Brady, tactician on Vesper:
“What I like in particular are the conditions you can find here; You battle against the wind and the sea around the island, but you also encounter a lot of very pleasant downwind sailing at more than twenty knots. Everything here is very balanced.
It really makes me think of the conditions you can find in Hawaii, with the huge waves, strong winds and very warm seas; nothing but pleasure!"
For more information visit the website:Â www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com