Caribbean circuit now turns to Les Voiles de St. Barth

Published on April 8th, 2014

The Caribbean racing season, which kicked off with the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Series in mid-January, now heads to the Les Voiles de St. Barth in Gustavia, St. Barth’s main port, on April 14-19.

Now in only its fifth year, Les Voiles de St. Barth has become a key stop on the Caribbean racing calendar, attracting 70 boats from Europe, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. The presence of eight maxis, prestigious boats that offer a fantastic show, is a huge satisfaction to the organisers.

But within the six classes taking part, the Spinnaker class stands out too, with no fewer than 35 boats, between 32 and 60 feet in length, that are among the most competitive boats in the Caribbean. They come to St. Barth fully prepared for racing and are often sailed by internationally renowned sailors.

A distinguished yachtsman, Peter Harrison is a perfect example of the spirit that motivates those taking part in their quest for victory: a win that is increasingly sought after at Les Voiles. He is coming to St. Barth at the helm of Jolt 2, a 45-foot Reichel Pugh-designed Baltic that has been fine-tuned by his top class crew, made up chiefly of British sailors and New Zealanders, veterans of several America’s Cup campaigns.

“We so enjoyed Les Voiles de St. Barth last year that we have decided to come back,” explained Harrison. “The standard of the competitors in the Maxi, Mini Maxi and 52-foot class is incredible. Whether we are racing against them or within sight of them it is very enjoyable. The standard of the crews seems to improve each year. We are looking forward to some fantastic racing, as well as some pleasurable moments ashore, particularly during the lay day festivities. We are pleased to be part of what has become a must in the racing calendar.”

With the Swans, X Yachts, Ker, Grand Soleil and Baltic boats, the battle is likely to be exciting and a pleasure to see. The excellent results obtained by American Jim Madden’s J/125 Stark Raving Mad IV, shows the standard of preparation and the determination of the competitors in this group, which is the strongest in terms of quantity and quality in the line-up for this fifth edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth.

American Ken Read summed up the magic of the moment very well when he achieved victory in 2012 aboard Rambler: “With each change of tack, you discover an even more magnificent seascape.”

The infinite beauty of the islands offers countless opportunities for technical and tactical race courses for all competitors. The cocktail so elegantly organised by the organizers brings together the delights of yachting and the incomparable assets of the island. This is without any doubt one of the reasons why Les Voiles is successful, as they have really understood and included what seasoned competitors are looking for, bringing together the enjoyment of the sea and the finer side of life ashore.

The Swiss on the IRC 52 Near Miss has already competed in the 2014 edition of the St.Thomas International Regatta, which took place in the turquoise waters of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Franck Noël and Benoit Briand and their crew managed six wins in seven races to walk away with an overall class win. The duel they will be fighting against the Botin-designed Balearia, another boat that is used to all the tactical nuances of sailing around the islands, promises to be exciting.

French sailor Bertrand de Broc, a Vendée Globe hero, will be competing at Les Voiles de St. Barth at the helm of his TS 50 catamaran Pampero. He will be in direct competition with Régis Guillemot, who will be sailing aboard the TS 50 Hallucine.

De Broc said, “I know the finishing line in St. Barth having crossed it seven times at the finish of the Transat AG2R. It is a paradise setting, both in terms of its fine racing and welcoming atmosphere for partners, enabling them to discover what it is like to sail in this exceptional location. I’m very lucky to be here. I have heard a lot of good things about the race courses and the organisation of Les Voiles de St. Barth, where people come for the intense racing, but also for the friendly atmosphere ashore.”

Event website: http://www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com/site/us/

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