Racing is coming!

After two days of registration, practice and final preparations, the 1,000 sailors in the 10th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille are now ready for racing, which begins tomorrow, Monday, April 15 at 12 pm EST.

The signature eastern trade winds are solidly established, promising to deliver 15 – 20 knot winds for a spectacular week of racing. Even before the first warning signal sounds tomorrow, some great on-water battles are shaping up across all nine classes: Maxi 1, Maxi 2, CSA 1, CSA 2, CSA 3, CSA 4 and CSA 5 (Caribbean Sailing Association), ORCmh (Offshore Multihull Association) and IMHRR (International MultiHull Rating Rule).

“The week should be perfect,” said Pierre Casiraghi, this year’s ambassador who will also be at the helm of the Maxi 72 Sorcha, a boat he knows well from racing on her previously in Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. “This is my first time on the island. The place is amazing and I cannot wait to start racing tomorrow, even though we unfortunately lost a big competitor yesterday, Bella Mente.”

Bella Mente was forced to withdraw from racing after the top two meters of their mast broke during practice on Friday. For Casiraghi, it’s a big loss. “I would have loved to measure myself against them and see how it turns out. But regardless, the fight in the Maxi 1 class promises to be very competitive!”

Another major competitor missing in action this year from the Maxi class is Proteus, the winner of the last two editions of the event. Unfortunately, they dismasted earlier this year in the Caribbean 600 RORC.

Defenders Return to Les Voiles
Across the other classes, four other defending champions return to fight for the 2019 crown: Christian Guyader’s Guyader Gastronomie; Stephen Cucchiaro’s Flow; Nelson Moore’s Windfall; and Claude Granel and Marc Emig’s Crédit Mutuel – SGS; in IMHRR, ORCmh, Maxi 2 and CSA, respectively.

“Having won in our class in 2018, we felt obliged to return to defend our title!” laughed Guyader. “We know, however, that it will not be easy because the bar is very high in multihulls, including many competitors having, like me, participated in the Route du Rhum.”

In fact, many of his former opponents of the famous transatlantic race will be at Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille such as Olmix, the winning boat at the Rhum Multi, who will have on board the very experienced Charlie Capelle; Jean-François Lilti’s L’Avocet; and Alain Delhumeau’s Rayon Vert.

“It’s going to be quite a fight,” promises Guyader. And this should be true in all classes where we find at the same time of the faithful of the first hour like Raphael Magras’s Maëlia Caisse d’Epargne Cepac Antilles; Raymond Magras’s Speedy Nemo; Sergio Sagramoso’s Lazy Dog; Sir Peter Harrison’s Sojana, which is the largest yacht in the 10th edition at 115’; or Frits Bus’s Team Island Water World, which conversely is the smallest boat in the fleet at 24’.

There are also a multitude of “newcomers,” determined to upset the regulars, so it is anyone’s guess who may top the leaderboard next Saturday. No doubt the competition will be close, much to the delight of sailing fans and sailors who relish the perfect blend of tight racing around the beautiful backdrop of St. Barth, and the friendly camaraderie on shore, a signature blend from Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille’s beginning 10 years ago.

In brief:
Five days of competition begins tomorrow, Monday, and continues Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday is the team favorite “Day Off”. There will be six starts that include the nine classes, with the smaller boats beginning first.

CSA 5 will be the first start, followed by CSA 3 and 4; then CSA 1 and 2. Next up are Maxi 1 and Maxi 2; and finally the multihulls — ORCmh; and then IMHRR Multihulls.

For this 10th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, Race Director Luc Poupon and Race Committee Chairman Jean Coadou have developed 26 possible courses for competitors (between 10 and 47 miles).

“For the first time we will be offering two start zones and two possible finish lines, in Gustavia and Saint-Jean, which will allow us to launch for some classes up to two races per day,” said Coadou.

Sixteen nationalities represented in 2019 from Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom. The two most represented nations are France and the United States with 14 and 12 boats, respectively.