Les Voiles de Saint-Barth: An 8th edition that lived up to its promises

Les Voiles de Saint-Barth: An 8th edition that lived up to its promises

High-performance boats and star crews, great race courses, varied and complex weather conditions the organizers did their best to exploit, close battles in all classes in every race, suspense right to the finish line, and a schedule of special events that were fun and festival for the sailors as well as the local population: all the elements came together for the success of the 8th annual edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth. A look at the highlights and a quick recap with François Tolède, managing director of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth:

What is your impression of this 8th edition?

“Very positive. This 2017 edition of Les Voiles was very satisfying on several levels. To begin with, the list of entries…the regatta attracted a lot of high-performance boats and talented crews. That was already the case last year but even more so this year, with more and more larger boats, including 15 Maxis. Was this year an exception? We’ll see what happens next year, but it is true that we have had an increase of 20%-25% in the Maxi classes in each edition. We hope to do even better in 2018 and even better again in 2019 for the 10th anniversary, while continuing to focus on both quality and quantity, with equal access for the biggest and the smallest entries, and at the same time maintaining the unique spirit of the regatta. The spectacle that the boats provided this year was truly impressive, with and without a lot of wind. The favorites were back and put on some terrific matches. It was a very good edition, for sure, even if it was marred a little by the weather, as was the case last year. For the past two years, there has not been a lot of wind. Aeolus teases us every day. But as we once again proved, that does not stop us from having a great event.”

Once again, at the end of this most recent edition, the consensus is that the format of the regatta is unanimously positive…

“Clearly yes. We have great response from the crews. The concept seems to please everyone. It has become our routine. We took a chance in organizing the event for a full week, which is hardly ever done in the Caribbean, but it works. We are even asking ourselves if we should add another day to the regatta. We have noted that the crews are arriving earlier and earlier in Saint Barth. We could actually start the racing on Monday and add another day of competition on the water. We will ask the skippers and see if they are interested. If they want to keep Monday as a training day, we will leave it like that. Our goal is, above all, to listen to them and provide a regatta tailored to their needs…”

That has been your recipe since the creation of Les Voiles in 2010…

“Yes and it is without doubt why the event is so popular and why our sponsors renew their trust in us. The hardest thing in this kind of event is to avoid lassitude and to succeed in remaining fresh year after year. We have greatly evolved over the past eight years, from the organization on shore and at sea to the schedule of special events. Of course there are always highpoints—and unforgettable moments like the fabulous Day-off for example, which is always a big success, and we have lots of ideas to make it even better. We especially have high hopes for the 10th edition in 2019, as well as several surprises up our sleeves for next year, with the regatta April 9-14, 2018. Stay tuned…”

Quotes:

Bruno Magras, president of the Collectivité de Saint-Barthélemy“Les Voiles de Saint-Barth is one of the events that gives the island its international reputation, and helps prolong the tourist season. We are happy to note that each year the event continues to grow and that the Collectivité is, obviously, fully committed to perpetuate this kind of activity. In addition to the nautical aspect of the event, there is also the economic impact. Les Voiles brings approximately two thousand people from many different countries to the island for a week to 10 days. This is not only good for the island, and also for the participants who can discover the Caribbean, and in particular the great sailing in Saint Barthélemy. Long live Les Voiles! »

Lionel Péan, “godfather” of the 8th edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth“This 8th edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth was wonderful. Formidable even, since we had some nice wind, some lighter breezes, good fights to the finish, great matches in every class, incredible light, and superb spectacles. The event was perfect and I am happy to have been its godfather.”