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Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2015

               

Following on from the success of the Bucket, St Barths has hosted the 6th Edition of Les Voiles de Saint Barth from the 13-18 April 2015. With 70 teams in 10 classes, 1200 sailors and about 120 people running the event, the regatta has never seen so many boats on the start line since its inception in 2010…“Les Voiles de Saint Barth has attracted a larger number of competitors each year, including some of the best boats on the planet,” said François Tolède, the event and race director. “As a result, the quality of the roster is exceptional this year, and the regatta is now firmly anchored as one of the top nautical events in the Caribbean.”

Boats competing ranged from speedy multihulls such as Lloyd Thornburg’s Mod 70 Phaedo 3 to technologically sophisticated new-builds such as George David’s Rambler 88 and Jim and Kristy Hinze-Clarke’s Comanche (at 100 feet, one of the largest boats) to the more traditional grand prix racers in the 50-70 foot range and smaller racing/cruising boats. There was even a one-design class for Melges 24s (the smallest boats competing) that are as fun, physical and demanding in teamwork and skill as their larger counterparts. The Trade Winds didn't disappoint with a steady 15-20 knots, allowing the teams to do what they all really came for: hard core racing!                        

                                         

The event’s largest, fastest boats sailed in Maxi 1 class, and it was George David’s Rambler 88 that won that class’s four-race series. All eyes had been on the 'duel' - Rambler 88 and the larger Comanche during the first two race days, since no one had yet seen the two boats sail against each other. The powerful Comanche showed blazing speed, taking line honors in two races. It was Rambler 88, however, that prevailed with corrected-time performances, giving the team three first-place finishes in a row, and winners of the Maxi 1 Class. "This boat is wicked quick, and I think we’ll do even better in the future," commented David, " don’t count us out for records, including the one for the Transatlantic Race 2015 this summer, which we hold already (with Rambler 100, a previous boat).” So the challenges continue…

                               

Lloyd Thornburg’s U.S. entry in Multihull class, Phaedo 3, spent its regatta leaving the seven other Multihull class entries in its wake and won 4 out of 4 races….“It was a great event,” said Thornburg, who on Wednesday established the multihull record for a newly introduced 43-mile course that will be repeated here each year. (Comanche and Odin established the records for Maxi 1 and Maxi 2 classes, respectively). 

                     

With the Race village taking over the 'Quai' in Gustavia, a huge crew party on Shell Beach half way through the week for an estimated 1000 people, live music, fireworks, an awards ceremony and finally a Picnic on Colombier Beach,  there was much to keep everyone entertained both on and off the water! Well done to the organisers of Les Voiles for another highly successful racing event. 

                                                             

Images © Michael Gramm from Les Voiles de Saint Barths http://www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com/site/us//