Mistral provides Champagne Sailing for the Les Voiles de St Tropez | As if it wasn’t enough to gather together the most sublime line-up of Maxis in the most beautiful port in the world, the Mistral also decided to join in the festivities today to kick off the week in grandiose fashion with champagne sailing. A Westerly breeze welcomed the 45 Maxi Yachts competing in the very first event of this second week of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2021. The most stunning Maxis, J Classes and Wallys have chosen to take up residence in the bay on the kind invitation of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez and they fully intend to round off their Mediterranean season in the most dazzling of manners. Pushed around by 20 knots and a bracing wind on exiting the bay, with a more pronounced swell offshore, conditions were ideal for Race Management, skilfully led by Georges Korhel, (Principal Race Officer at Les Voiles), to launch these speed demons off around La Fourmigue, a rock located in front of Le Lavandou, on the longest of the coastal courses at Les Voiles, which entails a wonderful 40-mile looped circuit. With sunshine, glittering sea and a solid breeze, all the ingredients were in place to give these magnificent chargers and their international crews everything they could possibly need to put on a fantastic show and satisfy their competitive yearnings.
4 groups, 4 starts, but 5 rankings
4 groups of Maxis set sail shortly after midday at regular 10-minute intervals from Le Portalet, within sight of the large crowds. The ‘big boats’ of the IR1 fleet led the way towards the far end of the bay and a windward mark and it came as no surprise that record hunters Comanche, Rambler88 and Leopard 3 were straightaway embroiled in an almighty tussle. On a beat towards Le Lavandou making over 17 knots, the wind picking up considerably in the gusts and creating foamy seas, the three large prototypes clashed horns in the spray. However, they didn’t have the racetrack to themselves as there were a number of other protagonists keen for a share of the action and honed in the exercise of racing in the breeze, starting with a very familiar presence on the podiums, Magic Carpet Cubed, as well as Deep Blue, the Botin 85 and Odin, the large Swan 115 which was really firing on all cylinders today. Geared up for downwind sailing, Comanche literally flew past the mark at La Fourmigue in a Mistral that increased to nearly 30 knots at times. Boasting a peak speed of over 26 knots, the VPLP/Verdier design managed to steal a bit of a march on Magic Carpet Cubed, which was very at ease in the breeze and on pretty much every point of sail. Rambler 88 posted a great race, in contact with Comanche for a long while but she too was somewhat powerless against the blistering pace of the Comanche ‘sleigh’, which is seemingly unstoppable as she flies along downwind… Leading by a sizeable margin at the finish. Due to ratings, as such, it was Deep Blue, which secured the race win ahead of Magic Carpet Cubed and Rambler. It’s worth noting here that several Trophies will be up for grabs this week, together with 5 rather than 4 official rankings, the 72-footers (21.90 m) eager for their own chance at the podium! Indeed, at the request of the owners of the latter, the IRC3 group has been split into two subdivisions, IRC A and IRC B. Within the daily rankings will be 4 yachts, Ambersail, the VOR 65, and the three 72-footers North Star, Jethou and Vesper. A fight within a fight then between four yachts with very similar ratings and hence a guarantee of a cut-throat battle throughout the week.
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