Sharing Lives (and Styles) with the Famous in St Barths
Published on April 28th, 2019
Having a fantastic time at Les Voiles de St Barths is not hard to do. The beauty, the culture, and competition are all excellent, along with the caliber of racers it attracts. Meg Reilly shares her experience from the 2019 edition on April 15-20.
Never before had gangster rap been so inviting in St Barths. Familiar sounds and faces lured us to the deck of Summer Storm – a NYYC boat that was celebrating a week of bullets at Les Voiles de St Barth.
Down below an empty magnum bottle of rosé, the team’s winnings, sat next to the team’s not so secret weapon — Stu Bannatyne. A big smile from ear to ear, he spoke highly of Les Voiles de St Barths and acknowledged we might have set the bar a bit high for our one crew member’s first regatta.
As we all bathed in the afterglow of a perfect regatta week, we shared laughs and sailing insights with an ocean race veteran. Who said nothing good ever happens after midnight?
While part of our crew enjoyed the windings down of Summer Storm’s celebrations, there were two of our crew members missing. But we knew they were certainly not missing out. We had this feeling they were out and about with a bunch of Scallywags, and we were right.
Rewind to day two of the regatta. As per French hospitality, we were treated to a daily croissant and coffee from Les Voiles de St Barths. A nice treat, but the real treat was the opportunity to break bread with legends. Our crew member Robin Baden describes the morning that changed the course of her week — and life!
“I happened to be looking at the results of the day before I had joined [crewmate] Kerry who was talking to David Witt at the breakfast counter — I was seriously stunned!” Robin, a huge Scallywag fan, reminisced and spoke about how this chance encounter and friendly conversations led to some amazing experiences.
“Kerry and I looked at each other in disbelief — really we are going to get to tour the boat! We thanked him and as Witty was walking away, Kerry was so excited that when he was trying to pour milk into his coffee he had poured it into his orange juice.”
A team whose name might precede them, was actually most the heartwarming and welcoming team in the regatta. On Lay Day our crew got picked up by the Scallywag RIB for a private tour of Scallywag 100. The crew were treated like family, so Robin made herself right at home!
On the stage, Skipper of winning Maxi Scallywag 100, David Witt, closed his prize giving speech “apologizing in advance for the behavior of any Scallywags.” But no apologies were necessary, instead we owe them many thanks and gratitude to a team who would literally give you the shirt right off of their back!!
More shocking than their friendliness was their humility and genuine interest in our own sailing pursuits. Here we were plebeians amongst gods, and they were treating us like equals. Apparently David Witt had not only recognized our 40-foot Pogo 12.50 Hermes but also commented how low her boom was?! Pinch me!
We weren’t the only ones giddy to brush shoulders with our sailing idols. Our friend Maxime Grimard, co-skipper of Volvo 60 Esprit de Corps, sails a piece of ocean race history with high hopes for his future. To his delight, some of Max’s sailing heroes were just as interested in his sailing program as he was theirs.
“It’s great to meet these sailing champions,” reflected Max. “When I was a kid I was fascinated by some of them, and now we take part in the same races. That’s what is magical to me about the Pro-Am races in the Caribbean.”
After spending an entire week on Hermes battling double-handed racing champion Jean Pierre Dick on his JP54 The Kid, you understand why Les Voiles de St Barths is a class above. No other regatta offers such great yacht racing where you can share the beautiful water and lifestyles with the world’s famous sailors. Now that’s paradise.