Big boat racing in the French West Indies

Published on April 16th, 2023

The 12th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille has a fresh mix of newcomers like Roy P. Disney and Pyewacket and famous French multihull sailor Loïc Escoffier on LodiGroup joining a slew of defending champions for the racing on April 17-22 in Gustavia.

Returning multihull class winner, Kent Haeger’s Gunboat 62 Mach Schnell, has his work cut out this year, racing in the largest multihull fleet (14) in the regatta’s history. In total, four returning class winners are set to race this year: Jim Madden’s Stark Raving Mad IX, a Carkeek 47; Sergio Sargamasso’s Melges 32 Lazy Dog; and Bernie Girod’s Pata Negra, a Lombard 46.

Peter Isler, the five-time America’s Cup competitor and twice winner, is racing as navigator on Disney’s modified Volvo 70 Pyewacket. They’ll line up against fellow first-timer, the Volvo 70 HYPR Racing skippered by Jens Lindner, and the guest crew composed of sailors from the Sopot (Poland) Yacht Club.

“Les Voiles will be the first time that Pyewacket has done short-course racing on this boat,” said Isler. “Obviously the Volvo 70 is designed to cross oceans and now we are about to go send this ocean racing greyhound around really short courses.

“We have just a ‘few’ things to focus on: do all our maneuvers, sail the shortest distance, make sure the navigator (Isler) doesn’t hit any rocks while cutting all the corners, and that the crew makes all the gear shifts while making all the course changes. It will be really hard, but really fun.”

In the largest multihull turnout ever for the regatta, Loïc Escoffier’s boat has been in the West Indies since he finished the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. “I’m looking forward to starting with 14 multihulls on the line, including good friends against whom it’s always fun to compete. On board Lodigroup, we are all competitors and we are here to win!”

Fourteen countries are represented in 2023 with the conditions expected to be between 12 and 15 knots throughout the event.

Event director François Tolède attributes the smaller maxi boat turnout to the America’s Cup training, as many of the maxi crews are fully engaged in their Cup team programs. Five days of racing are planned for Monday through Saturday, while Thursday, as per Les Voiles tradition, is the Signature Day off and beach party.


Source: LVDSB

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