Behind the Scenes, January 2023
Published on January 7th, 2023
Happy New Year friends! I am wishing a year full of joy and good health to you and yours: and may 2023 bring you the ‘Ultimate’ in sailing and all of life’s adventures.
With this, my 41st edition of the Ultimate Sailing Calendar, we return to my usual format featuring the latest and greatest racing yachts, destinations, and events. It was a thrill to flashback on the past four decades in the 2022 edition, but I’m delighted to bring you this year a selection of the latest, most breathtaking yacht racing from around the world.
Included in the mix are photos from my talented colleagues Giulio Testa, Sander van der Borch, Pedro Martinez, and Jesús Renedo; plus, Gilles Martin-Raget – whose stunning photos kick off the year for us.
The legendary J-class yacht Velsheda plunges into a surly Mediterranean with might and determination at the top of our January 2023 pages. Much like our entrance to the New Year, this treasured classic battles ahead with hope and determination. It’s what we do!
This spectacular image was captured by Gilles from a helicopter on a blustery fall day at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. “It was the day when the fleet of big maxis and J-Classes were racing the longest course of Les Voiles, which sent them to a mark located near Cavalaire-sur-Mer,” he recalled.
The roughly 30nm course circling France’ Saint-Tropez peninsula, around the rugged capes. “That is where the mistral, the famous local northwest wind, blows the strongest, creating short and abrupt waves that make the way upwind quite uncomfortable for the crew and the boats,” he continued, “but the reward is a fast and furious downwind leg on the way back to Saint-Tropez.”
‘Le vent mistral’ can swiftly build to 30 or 40 knots! Just look at the crew, face down on the foredeck, trying to escape the sea spray as 124-tons of brawn and beauty romp to weather!
“As I was working for the Les Voiles organization, it was vital to capture this moment,” Gilles reflected, despite the realization that several other thrilling races were taking place at the same time, with a number of classics racing on other courses.
The event, which was founded four decades ago, brings a multitude of modern, classic and maxi yachts to the Côte d’Azur for high octane racing by day, and swanky soirees at night.
“At the time, you knew you were missing some other spectacular action too,” Gilles said. “But getting to follow the J-Class yachts in such a big breeze was both an incredible show, and a privilege, that anybody with a love of sailing would not want to miss. You could watch them for hours and hours, just destroying the waves … although I bet the J’s foredeck would prefer drier conditions.”
Gilles lives in the south of France in Arles and began sailing and racing in his 20s, and soon segued into photographing the sport he loves. To read more about him in our spotlight from May 2020, click here.
As for what’s next on the agenda for Ultimate Sailing, Key West is calling my name and I may hop down for the Southernmost Regatta. Then there’s the Bacardi Cup in March, the incredible Caribbean racing circuit, and of course Transpac starting in late June.
Do you have a regatta or championship event you’d like Ultimate Sailing to cover? Let’s talk! It’s a real thrill to visit new and exciting destinations and increase exposure to our great sport and venues. Let’s make 2023 a truly New Year – full of new friends, new experiences and new wonders!