It’s the home stretch to the 24th edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, which will officially kick off on Saturday 24 September with those competitors racing on modern boats of up to 18m27 and classic yachts with no size limit all being welcomed by the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez.
The on-the-water clashes traditionally get under way on Sunday afternoon with the arrival from Cannes of competitors in the Yacht Club de France’s Autumn Cup, whose entrants include part of Saint Tropez’s fleet of classic yachts. The race finish can be particularly memorable when the E’ly wind picks up a fine swell that sweeps into the far end of the Gulf of Saint Tropez, so make sure you don’t miss it!
Week 1, Modern and Classics: new courses and safety
Thanks to the use of geodynamic marks – which protect the seabed – modern boats from the IRC classes can expect some great new courses. In line with the day’s weather forecast, competitors will be able to hunt down a mark specially put in place for them in the vicinity of Pampelonne and Cap Camarat. This new option makes it possible to avoid sending the fleet to a mark offshore, which has little competitive appeal and comes with the risk of having to decide the result out of the public gaze and in a light breeze.
Safety for both participants and the public is the Organising Committee’s primary concern at Les Voiles. “As time has gone by, we’ve noticed that everyone has a better understanding of the event,” explains Georges Korhel, the Principal Race Officer. “As such, this year we’ve decided to shorten the length of the start line a tad – in the knowledge that at Les Voiles we have fleets of 40 boats at most per grouped start – and so we’ve also slightly reduced the large rectangular space that makes up the surrounding exclusion zone. This will leave a little extra room for spectators and, above all, it makes this area more visible and easier to supervise.”
For the classic yachts, the installation of a ‘waiting area’ at the far end of the gulf during the start session for the modern boats remains topical. Furthermore, if the desire to go and ‘test the line’ remains strong, offenders will incur penalties.
Week 2, Maxis and Multihulls: owners at the helm, a day of relaxation on Thursday
A recent addition to the Sailing Instructions, the obligation to have the owner at the helm of boats measuring between 18.28 and 24 metres, both monohulls and multihulls, is a requirement that spans both Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez and the IMA – International Maxi Association, and is already part of the Wally class rules.
This provision is geared around safety as well as sporting equity, by limiting the role of the ‘hired top guns’, without reducing the appeal of their presence and their contribution, both on a technical and tactical level in what is an extremely top-flight circuit.
This requirement is also very much in keeping with the ‘Nioulargue spirit’, which coloured the founding event for Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, as there was a great deal of emphasis on the importance of having the owners aboard. This has been carried on every year during the Club 55 Cup, which is contested on the Thursday of the first week.
Also of note is the fact that, for the very first time, the Thursday of the second week will now be a nominated Lay Day in the racing programme for the Maxis with one or two hulls.
Within the village at Les Voiles
- Sailors’ games: the crews will get the chance to sign up for a series of arm-wrestling competitions
- Prix du Tintamarre: a round will be offered to the crew who makes the noisiest entrance into the port every evening.
- A photo competition open to the public: ‘Objectif Voiles’, photos must be brought along to the Images Service stand on a USB key.
- Smart bracelets for the village bar: a new rechargeable device will be available to customers to the bar.