Yachts sporting Doyle sails gained international attention by winning races at the 20th Les Voiles de Saint Tropez race week from 28 September to 6 October. There were 4,000 sailors and 300 modern and classic yachts, but all eyes were on yacht Lyra* as she snatched the BMW trophy in the Wally class. David Leuschen’s Galateia*, also powered by the latest Cable-less technology in Doyle sails claimed second place overall for the Wallys.
“It was difficult winds in St Tropez as always, but that made for an interesting test of the skill of our team,” said Lyra’s owner Terry Hui. “There were lots of wind holes, but we were able to find wind most of the time and we were able to keep up with boats 20 feet longer than us.”
The Wally class of boats are at the cutting edge of today's technology. The fruit of the imagination of experienced sailor, Italian Luca Bassani, they are built for performance, speed, elegance, habitability and luxury, and are between 20 and 50 metres in length. It wasn’t until 1998 that the Wally Class secured its own rating and ranking. Les Voiles de Saint Tropez is the only French event for the class, and the boats are given their own special course.
Aside from the thrill of watching the ultra-modern Wallys, it was an epic week of racing featuring all sizes of modern and classic yachts. Modern yachts were split into nine groups, whilst the classics were distributed into 10 groups, according to their size and rig-type. The 30-knot Mistral breeze saw racing cancelled for two days, but there was still plenty of time for exhilarating sailing.
Other boats powered by Doyle sails were Leopard 3 and Balthasar. Samuel Wright’s Leopard 3 won the Maxi Friendly Challenge and performed well in the Loro Piana Trophy, coming third overall and narrowly losing the battle to rival Velsheda. Jim Swartz's Maxi 72 Vesper performed excellently in the elite group of 72-footers.
The 30-metre Leopard 3 won the Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup and Voiles de Saint Tropez in 2016, and has spent the past few years racing cross-country. She also holds five world speed sailing records and seven course records.
Leopard 3 is under new ownership since the 2016 event. For the 2019 Les Voiles de Saint Tropez and a prior event in Sardinia the boat featured a new Doyle cableless A-3 sail which resulted in some very competitive racing.
Chris Sherlock, Doyle’s Managing Director in Palma (Mallorca) is the previous owner of Leopard 3 and was on board for the racing this year. “We were very pleased to finish one point off a three-way tie for first,” he said. “When we look at Velsheda and Rambler who were our competition, they have such talented well-drilled crews, I feel it’s an outstanding achievement for us to be in the mix as well.
“Next, we go to the Caribbean where we will introduce some more sails with the latest technology from Doyle and I have no doubt Leopard will remain on the podium at her next events,” he added.
This year the period Marconi rigged boats were selected to battle it out for the prestigious Rolex Trophy – classic boats ranging from 15 to 17 metres in length, some of them designed by renowned 20th-century naval architects. The 2019 winner was Daniel Sielecki’s Cippino II.
Tony Oller, President of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, said: “It’s been a fantastic week with some very varied weather conditions. The sailors are unanimous in their opinion that this edition has been a very fine vintage.”
Creating the perfect sail
Doyle Sails have a close relationship with all their clients, especially with Leopard 3, due to Sherlock’s connection with the boat.
Antonino Pellegrino, Loft Manager, Palma, says that Doyle always encourages open communication with clients. “Now Chris is involved in this project personally that helps a lot because he can see first-hand how the boat is sailing in Saint Tropez and feedback to us here in the Palma loft.
“The unique point we have at Doyle Palma is that our MD used to be a client and so he understands the needs of the skippers, and he rightly demands high standards,” said Pellegrino.
“We also talk a lot to the crews – everyone is involved from the skipper to the bowman,” he added.
Doyle pride themselves on using the skills of craftsmen. Sails are hand-stitched and tailor-made. “The people who make our sails actually know how to sail,” says Pellegrino. “They understand how the sail works on the boat and intuitively will know if some aspect of the sail needs tweaking or reinforcing.”
Sherlock reiterated this point: “Doyle are not a ‘produce anything at any cost’ sailmaker – we take a lot of pride in being innovative and work closely with our owners and project managers and captains to ensure every bespoke sail is unique and perfect.
“We have demonstrated this with our cableless/structured luff sail technology which is being used in upwind and downwind sails today and it is definitely the future of sail making,” explained Sherlock. “We like to think we are ahead of the pack as the innovators and inventors or this latest technology and it will only be a matter of time before it filters through to all types of sails and sailors.”
There is no factory churning out sails to a template at Doyle Sails – the lofts pride themselves on a personalised, bespoke approach and treat sail-making as an art and a science. Quality is the epitome of what Doyle Sails offer, and the proof is on the podium.
*denotes partial inventory