Battle lines at Les Voiles de St. Barth

Published on April 19th, 2022

Saint Barthelemy (April 19, 2022) – After racing got underway yesterday at the 11th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, the trades continued to pump today with early results beginning to shape the classes from maxi to multi and everything in between.

Kicking it off in CSA 1, Maximilian Klink’s Botin 52 Caro and TP52 Jolt 3, owned by Peter Harrison are early contenders for a great rivalry in the front of the pack, with Caro just edging Jolt 3 at the finish today. According to Justin Ferris, Caro’s main trimmer, the two teams are thoroughly enjoying the close competition.

Caro is eager to erase the memory of the last time they raced in Les Voiles in 2019 when a collision with Selené, Wendy Schmidt’s former maxi, ended both boats’ regattas. The Caro team is here this year with a new boat, built during the pandemic and which Ferris says they are still learning.

In today’s 28-mile race, Jolt 3 had the edge early on with a better start and a strong first downwind. Caro was able to stay in close contact, which set the two up for a tacking duel as they got to the backside of Saint Barthelémy. “We must have done 30 tacks and it was boat-on-boat the rest of the way around,” said the four-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran. “We were just able to roll past them at the last island turning mark thanks to a slightly faster sailing angle. It was just enough to get through them and get away.”

In the Offshore Multihull class, the close competition continues with Mach Schnell, the Gunboat 62 owned by Kent Haeger and Greg Slyngstad’s Bieker 53 Fujin. The two teams have lined up over previous editions, and according to Mach Schnell’s Dave Allen, the team relishes the close racing with the well-sailed catamaran.

The Gunboat currently holds the edge with two first-place finishes, no doubt helped by past Olympian Annie Haeger (470 class) calling tactics and who splits the driving with her father, Kent.

Mach Schnell did not make today’s win easy, as a timer malfunction had them begin the race almost a minute late. “Starting so late, we had our work cut out for ourselves and had to fight our way through the whole pack of boats,” Allen said. “We chased Fujin the whole way; it’s hard to get past those guys. Plus with the bigger seas, you had to be very strategic on which way you sailed. It was much harder on one board, both upwind and downwind.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the week, Allen is looking forward to more close racing. “But if we do our job and sail well, we should be OK. However, if we give anyone an inch of slack, we will be in the back of the pack.”

In Racing Multihull, Chaud Patate, a F40 trimaran owned by Christophe Cols is currently in second place behind Team Arawak, a Jobert-Nivalt 52. The big wind and waves suited him perfectly. “It was a great day. We peaked at 21 knots, and had a good battle on the first leg with Team Arawak and we are super happy with how we performed.

It’s a new boat for him, and while they raced in the St. Marteen Heineken Regatta, he admits they weren’t quite ready. “Les Voiles is our first real race. We are getting more comfortable with the boat and now starting to have some fun.”

In CSA 6, Blue Skies, a JPK 10.30, finished today’s race in second place but still holds the overall lead in the class thanks to a solid win yesterday. French skipper Gérard Quénot says, “Today was similar conditions to yesterday, but with a little more swell. We got off to a good start this morning, on the right side of the line and then we were able to play our game while managing the biggest boats of the other classes.”

“Like yesterday, we crossed the finish line in the lead but unfortunately not with enough distance over the Melges 24 Team Island Water World to save our rating. We are fighting against the clock but the boats are so different that it is not easy.”

Quénot credits the downwind speed of the Melges, making it impossible to match up against. “Upwind, we go faster than them, but downwind, they sail two knots faster than all the other boats.”

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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