Photographs © Christophe Jouany / Les Voiles de St. BarthToday sees the start of racing in Les Voiles de St. Barth. The palm-fringed port of Gustavia, St. Barthlemy is filled with an impressive array of race boats: ocean-racing maxis including:
- Highland Breeze
- Gunboat Phaedo
Over 60 boats are registered for this years edition, with a large number of returning entries, proof that the regatta has filled the need for spirited competition towards the end of the winter season a time when tourism typically begins to wind down in the Caribbean.
Racing will feature a mix of Olympic triangles, short coastal courses, and a 20-30 nautical mile round-the island race. The fleet will be split into seven classes:
- Maxi (> 21 meters)
- IRC52 (former TP52s that have been optimised for the IRC rule)
- Spinnaker I + II, Non-Spinnaker (racer/cruiser)
- Classic (vintage/traditional)
Thursday is a layday at Nikki Beach, with lunch and a full afternoon of activities, including a paddleboard competition.
New this year, Les Voiles will offer real-time race tracking with 2D visualization via the internet. Waypoint-Tracking (www.waypoint-tracking.com) developed the system in close collaboration with ISAF. The site will allow enthusiasts to follow the daily racing action live or to replay at a later time.
Many of the competing boats are moored stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle, site of the Race Village, where all of the daily breakfast and post-race activities and music take place.
A regular and enthusiastic competitor in the Caribbean, Sir Peter Harrison was named the godfather or patron of this years Les Voiles.
Harrison, owner of the 115-foot Farr-designed Sojana, told the crowd, As a visitor from England to this beautiful French island, one of the most beautiful in the West Indies, I’m thrilled to be asked to the patron of Les Voiles. Bon vent Les Voiles de St. Barth, and good luck, everyone!
The weather forecast for the next few days calls for light winds, though the breeze is expected to increase throughout the week.