It is indeed significant that 10 days from the end of the Mediterranean season regatta finale, Les Voiles de St Tropez, it is still unclear as to whether the event will go ahead. The popular regatta is awaiting an imminent decision over the viability of this year’s edition to be held in a new format from the 26th September – 9 October.
La Société Nautique du St Tropez is awaiting the official decision from the Préfecture du Var concerning the go-ahead for the 2020 edition and to say tensions are high amongst the racing community is an understatement. Many professional sailors have not been able to work in months and owners are keen to pursue their passion.
The knock-on effect of the delay to this information will be felt by the event and the participating yachts, crews and services. Many yachts will be in or close by to St Tropez, positioned on the Cote d’Azur ready for the motor yachts to depart the Port and the sailing yachts take over. Race crew will be deployed, accommodation and flights booked, plans made. However, as we all know in yachting, we are only ever “Standing By To Stand By” as everything can change by the second. And it does.
Famous for its large turnout, Les Voiles de St Tropez operates on an invitational basis and is always hugely popular and oversubscribed. 2020 has been no exception. I work closely with my clients to manage the application process for both the invitation and a berth in the inner harbour as nothing is guaranteed. It’s a complex process.
This year the event has attracted a large and hugely enthusiastic turnout despite the challenges which says so much for the event organisation, marketing and communication of their safety restrictions they had implemented in stages throughout the summer.
Registrations on the 10th September stood at 47 in the classic yacht division, including Olin Stephens design 16.33 metre Skylark of 1937.
Classic yachts are largely due to arrive on the water sailing from Cannes in the feeder race held by the Yacht Club de France Autumn Cup on the afternoon 27th September.
As usual, the modern yachts will open the show with races starting on Monday. A novelty this year is that only boats up to 20 metres (depending on their category) will be racing during the first week.
From Tuesday, classic boats less than 24 metres will enter the competition, with a programme of coastal races on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday is reserved for the challenge races and the Centenary Trophy in partnership with the Gstaad Yacht Club. The only notable change is that prize giving has been moved from Sunday morning to Saturday evening.
In the new Big Boat Classic Division are five yachts including 41.50 metre Elena of London, Carlo Falcone’s Alfred Mylne yawl 24 metre Mariella (Carlo is now Director of Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta), and Monaco Yacht Club’s, 15MJI Fife, Tuiga and the magnificent 31.30 schooner Puritan. It is a highly respectable turnout from this Class.
This second regatta week for the largest boats will allow the race committee to offer a race course and programme perfectly suited to the size and potential of the bigger yachts, whilst allowing them – as with all classes this year – race starts at the foot of the village, in front of the Portalet Tower. Sunday 4th and Monday 5th October are reserved for the changeover of the entire fleet moored in the port, for the benefit of the largest racing yachts, both modern and classics.
This second section is open to Wally, IRCA, Maxi and Mini Maxi, big Classic and big Schooner classes. For these larger boats, four days of regattas are planned from Tuesday 6th to Friday 9th October, the prize-giving being scheduled for Friday evening. Given the health situation, the physical presence of the crews will be limited during prize-givings, both for the first week and the closing ceremony.
In the new Big Boat Modern Class there are 29 modern yachts, five of which are in the IRC1 division including Swan 115 Solleone and 32 metre Cefea. In the IRC3 division French superyacht designer Philippe Briand is well represented and supported on his home turf with seven of his Mini Maxi designs racing in St Tropez.
There are 106 modern yachts race-ready ranging in LOA from 9-14 metres in the modern divisions IRC B, IRC C IRC D, IRCE which include three TP52’s and an enthusiastic turnout of eight Tofinou 9.5 . It has really caught on in St Trop as the perfect day sailor.
The clock is ticking. I’m Standing By. It’s now midday and I need to file. I’m nervous for my friends on the Riviera. As an event organiser I know the work and logistics involved in moving yachts and people around the world. The boat and container, Captain and core crew together with Rockstar race crew are one just one aspect to the picture which is an armada it itself. The VIP travel, first-class catering, 5-star accommodation, social entertainment and private parties for the owners and guests also takes a small detail orientated driven team. My clients have chosen to give this year a miss look to next year for a big comeback. It is no mean feat to cancel plans at short notice and historically has come at a high price. Companies are waking up to this and we can now ensure that 2021 bookings are all Covid-19 protected. Let’s pray this year’s event goes ahead and I have some wonderful info and images to show you for the next edition. Stand By!