Trades deliver at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Published on April 18th, 2022

Saint Barthelemy (April 18, 2022) – The 11th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille got underway today as race organizers sent the 11 classes on multiple courses ranging from 16 to 28 miles that utilized the best of the island’s geography and signature sailing conditions in the easterly trade winds of 20-25 knots.

One of the smaller boats in regatta, Niall Dowling’s Arabella is a new Cape 31 currently leading the sporty CSA 2 class over event veteran and class winner in 2019, the Melges 32 Lazy Dog owned by Puerto Rican Sergio Sagramoso.

“We’re a little boat, so the upwind sailing is hard work, but the conditions today were fantastic,” says Dowling, in just his third regatta with the new boat. “It was flat water for most of the race course, and going downwind we were hitting similar speeds as the wind.”

First-timer Rob Grant (Santa Barbara, CA) is racing on board Pata Negra, a Lombard 46 in CSA 5. Chartered by skipper Bernie Girod and his longtime California-based J/111 crew, they raced on Pata Negra in the 2019 edition, finishing in second. The team returns again, starting today with a first-place finish in CSA 5.

“These are the most fun courses I’ve ever raced on,” says Grant, who stood in today as helmsman while Girod recovers from an injury. “Being able to go around all these incredible land features as marks, it’s just amazing. I’m blown away. I figured it would be good. But it’s better.”

Pamala Baldwin, who lives in Antigua, has raced Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille many times and considers it her pinnacle regatta each Caribbean season. The last time the regatta was held in 2019, she and her J/122 Liquid team won the CSA 4 class.

“The regatta lasts five days. It’s a marathon and if we have to settle for third place today, the gaps are only counted in seconds,” says Baldwin. “It promises to be a great fight throughout the week.”

In fact, Liquid is less than one minute on corrected time behind her competitors, Jokers on El Ocaso by John Maybury and Blitz by Peter Corr. The time difference is negligible in many other classes as well.

Among the Maxis, today’s match was particularly close between Jim Swartz’s Vesper and Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente. The two maxis were battling it out and Bella Mente overtook Vesper on the first downwind leg of the 28-mile race, but after Bella Mente had a disastrous spinnaker drop, Vesper re-claimed the lead. Currently in third place is George David’s Rambler 88, followed by Wendy Schmidt’s Deep Blue.

The 11th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille is on April 18-23.

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Source: Laura Muma

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