As it has for its three prior editions, Les Voiles de St. Barth again has drawn a competitive mix of international yachts and crews from the UK, USA, France, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands, Belgium, and South Africa, as well as a strong Caribbean contingent from Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua, and Trinidad.
The inaugural event in 2010 drew 27 boats, and since then, entries have steadily grown as the media and sailing’s coconut telegraph helped spread the word. Event Director François Paul Tolède was enthusiastic as yachts tied up stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle in Gustavia. “The atmosphere is great on shore and the weather looks perfect,” he said. “With 62 boats entered and considering the current economic climate, the turnout shows what great regard the yacht owners have for the Voiles de Saint Barth.”
Tolède continued: “Luc Poupon (Course Director) has come up with some new courses, slightly longer in some cases, as many of the sailors wanted to spend more time on the water, and so racing will start a little earlier. We expect anywhere between 15 to 20+ knots of wind this week — ideal conditions for the fleet.”
Jim Swartz, owner/skipper of the TP52 VESPER, is the anointed “godfather” of this year’s regatta. An enthusiastic competitor, he has participated in all four editions. For Swartz it is a "do-not-miss event". “The conditions are fabulous,” he said. “Sailing around this island is beautiful — the winds are always predictable, the sailing is always a lot of fun, particularly when we get a good breeze on the back (windward) side of the island.” After VESPER competed in the TP52 Worlds in Miami last month, the boat was shipped to St. Thomas to get it race ready and then delivered to St. Barths this week. “Les Voiles is always on our calendar,” Swartz said, “it’s the atmosphere — the racing is great, the people are great, as is the organization. It all runs very well. And the dining and shopping (for the ladies)--all that St. Barths is all about, we love the same thing!” Plus, Jim and friends in the summer resort of Martha's Vineyard will be, even more importantly, supporting summer youth sailing programs with a new fleet of J/70s!
In addition to new J/70 owners like Jim Swartz and gang, venerable Caribbean competitors like Sergio Sagramosso's J/122 LAZY DOG and the J/125 HAMACHI sailed by Greg Slyngstad will be competing for Class I Racing honours. In Class 2 is the J/105 WHISTLER sailed by Peter Lewis from San Juan, Puerto Rico and the custom J/120 JAGUAR ISLAND WATER WORLD is being sailed by Ben Jelic. In Cruising Class is the J/95 SHAMROCK VII sailed by Tom Mullen from New Hampshire and the J/109 VOILES DE FEMME sailed by an all-girl team led by ARC trans-Atlantic champion Sophie Olivaud. Sailing photo credits- Tim Wright/ Photoaction.com For more St Barths's Regatta sailing information.