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Voiles de Saint Barth : Proteus won the Maxi yachts rankings

dimanche 17 avril 2016Redaction SSS [Source RP]

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Saturday’s final race at Les Voiles de St. Barth was riveting to watch, especially during the first beat and at the finish. The wind, like yesterday, was light, but unlike yesterday, just strong enough for officials to actually get off a race, and that pleased the hundreds of sailors competing here. Going into today, which was the fifth day of the regatta and the fourth scheduled for racing, many were in precarious positions on the scoreboard and needed to outwit their closest competitors to pick up a position or two to make top-three. Others had turned in perfect score lines, but knew today’s fickle winds would leave them vulnerable.

The course – at 20 nautical miles for Maxis 1 and 2, CSA 0 and Multihulls, and 17 miles for CSA 1 through 4 plus Melges 24 and Class 40 – ran counter-clockwise around the island and was a good choice for many reasons. It was an opportunity for the sailors to take in the beautiful vistas of St. Barth ; it gave officials the option to shorten course if needed ; and it incorporated all aspects of a good race course as far as reaching, beating, running, and navigating around the rocks and small islands off the coast.

At the start, the six-knot winds, combined with current and slow-moving sailboats that became obstacles, made positioning a critical factor in establishing early leads. The Maxi 72Momo and the TP 52 Vesper were perhaps the best examples of this, establishing huge margins in their classes (respectively Maxi 1 and CSA 0) by sticking close to the shoreline on the way to the first mark at Roches Roubes.

Unfortunately for Momo, which led its class the entire way around the island, a huge windless hole awaited them near the finish, and the Maxi 72 Proteus, with which they were tied for first place, was able to sail around them and put 20 boat lengths on them in the end.

“It’s a cliché, but it’s never over until it’s over, “said Stu Bannatyne, a Volvo Ocean Race six-time veteran and three-time winning skipper, who sails aboard Proteus. “The way the first beat panned out, we got caught in traffic and then snagged a lobster pot at the top of island, so we lost a lot of time there. I give full credit to the team ; they never gave up. Near the end of the race, we had an opportunity present itself, and the afterguard made a good decision. The wind went very light and shifty, and it was 200-300 meters from the finish line when the wind shut down. The line had been shortened by a mile and a half by the Race Committee, which was a good decision.”

For his team’s impressive performance over the course of the regatta, Proteus owner George Sakellaris was presented with an RM 60-01 Regatta Voiles de Saint Barth watch from Principal Partner Richard Mille. “This is a great win for us,” said Sakellaris. “We had some great racing, and maybe we wish we had stronger wind, but at the end of the day it worked out okay, and we are delighted.”

Vesper’s tactician Gavin Brady said his team didn’t get off the start line as well as they would have liked, but finding the wind near shore opened up the big lead for them, one which they managed to keep throughout the race. “It was one of those races where we could have done all that hard work and lost it with 100 meters to go. We had to drift across the finish line, so that was a bit nerve wracking, but luckily the race committee finished the race one mark before they normally would have.”

This is Vesper’s fourth victory at Les Voiles, and Brady said the team feels very at home here. “Some events are not as much fun on land, but this place is special on the water and off the water. It hasn’t been a windy Les Voiles, but it has been a lot of really hard technical light-wind sailing, which is challenging.”


Voir en ligne : Info presse www.lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com



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