Front runners finish flying at Friday’s Les Voiles
On the penultimate day of 12th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, crews arrived to their boats either refreshed or recovering from yesterday’s Lay Day at Gypsea Beach. At 10 a.m., race organizers sent the fleets on one race, ranging between 23, 26 and 29 nautical miles.
A rain squall rolled through the front finishers on the last leg of the course today, creating a fun ride in for Pyewacket, Stark Raving Mad IX, Nemo, El Ocaso and the much smaller Melges 24, Team Island Water World, who all reported hitting speeds in the high teens to 20 on the downwind run.
Roy P. Disney’s modified Volvo 70 Pyewacket continues its perfect string of top finishes and has mathematically clinched first place in the Maxi Class over fellow Volvo 70 Hypr Ocean Racing team.
Disney has thoroughly enjoyed his time racing in the Caribbean this season. “It’s an amazing place,” he said. “The race courses are so scenic but, honestly I’m not allowed to look,” he joked. “I just stare at the tell tales or else I get in trouble.”
Disney, a first-timer at Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, said that the course configurations provide a good challenge. “Racing around and through the surrounding islands makes the wind tricky,” he said. “We often saw 20 degree shifts, and big puffs swirling around. There’s a lot happening.”
As Pyewacket rounded the Grenadines, the final island on the 29-nm course, they sailed ahead of the rain squall and capitalized on the additional wind, flying in toward Gustavia and the finish line, averaging 19 – 20 knots.
Sailing a shorter course of 23 nautical miles, Frits Bus’s Melges 24 Team Island Water World also took advantage of the squall-induced winds. They have been trading race wins with their CSA 3 Melges 32 competition Lazy Dog, who Bus said they’re trying to even the score on after losing to the Puerto-Rican team by 28 seconds at last month’s St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
“We were tracking the Melges 32 the whole time today,” said Bus. “When we came around the last rock we didn’t think we had closed enough on corrected time. But then the squall hit and we were flying – 18 knots to the finish line. We beat them by 18 seconds!”
With Lazy Dog holding a one-point lead, Bus said, “It all comes down to tomorrow.”
On the flip side, other teams fell victim to the post-rain calm after the squall passed. In CSA Multihull, Pierre Hingant on Lodigroup, a 50-foot TS 5, said that they fell into the latter category.
Lodigroup still managed a second-place finish today despite falling into the wind hole and is pleased they kept their friends from Wellnesstraining/MG5 and Guyader Savéol behind them. “With the end of the regatta approaching, it’s becoming very strategic with our competition in how we all play the game in order to finish ahead.”
Tribe, a Gunboat 62 owned by Dominic Vittet, currently is in fifth place in Offshore Multihull, but with good reason. Vittet said it’s not a surprise their Gunboat isn’t performing at the same level as others in the class. “We have the MOD70 Zoulou in our class, who really is in their own category. And then the two HH66s, Nala and Nemo, are here in a purely racing configuration, and sailed very well by their crews.
“Whereas on board Tribe, we have a slightly different configuration – we have the microwave, the washing machine and the rest!” he laughed. “We live more comfortably but it is obviously a real handicap in terms of performance compared to our competitors.”
The Swan OD 50 Balthazar continues to lead CSA 1, but Jim Madden’s Carkeek 47 Stark Raving Mad IX’s broke the three-way second-place tiebreaker between the Santa Barbara, Calif. Team on Pata Negra (Lombard 46), and Final Final, Jon Desmond’s Mills 41.
Saturday is the final race day for the 12th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, which will also include the overall CSA Multihull winner, which will receive the Richard Mille Multihull Cup Trophy.