The grande finale of the yachting season for classic yachts has begun, as close to 300 yachts fill the Vieux Port for the week long event

The Tradition class boats, which start racing today, don’t have the stage to themselves this week. There is a impressive grand-prix fleet of ‘moderns’ from maxi yachts such as the Judel Vrolik 72-footer Rán, straight from a win at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo, the Wally class’ towering 44 metre Tripp-designed Esense, to the Tofinu class, most of which at 9.5 metres are just below the official minimum length.

But it is solely the Traditional class and, within this grouping, only boats 16 meters and over, that can compete for the Rolex Trophy. This year 50 entries are eligible.

Racing for the Rolex Trophy is the 25-meter cutter-rigged, Hallowe’en, created by the renowned Scottish designer, William Fife III. Hallowe’en was launched in 1926 and was a new type of design for Fife, sort of a cruising version of the successful 15-Metre class, which included Tuiga and Lady Ann. With her original rig, Hallowe’en was, and in fact still is, a powerful boat: shortly after her launch, she won the Fastnet Race and set a course record of 93 hrs, 13 mins (with the start/finish off Cowes).

The Rolex Trophy will be awarded during Sunday’s prize giving ceremony at the Citadelle. The very first winner of the Rolex Trophy in 2006 was the 25 metre Marconi-rigged schooner, So Fong. Designed by naval architecture firm, Sparkman & Stephens, So Fong was built in Hong Kong in 1937.

The 25 metre yawl, Agneta, built in 1951, won the Rolex Trophy in 2007. Agneta’s beautiful varnished mahogany hull and tanbark sails are unmistakable on the water. But it is the Herreshoff-designed NY 40 class Rowdy, that all eyes are on this year. Rowdy won the Rolex Trophy two years in a row – 2008 and 2009 – and is back to defend her title for a third time.

Rowdy is one of the New York Yacht Club 40 class, so named because the design was commissioned by the New York Yacht Club and is 40 feet on the waterline. Of the approximately 14 boats constructed, Rowdy is one of the few left. In addition to having a major refit, the boat has been optimized more recently, under owner Graham Walker’s care. Walker’s crew, including boat captain Jonathan Greenwood, have left nothing to chance, carefully tweaking and improving both the boat and how they sail her. Rowdy has enjoyed an impressive record on the classic circuit and she’ll be a formidable boat to beat.

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2010 Event Programme:

Monday, 27 September: Racing in Modern division
Tuesday, 28 September: Coastal race for all
Wednesday, 29 September: Coastal race for all
Thursday, 30 September: Challenge Day (match racing)
Friday, 1 October: Coastal race for all
Saturday, 2 October, Coastal race for all
Sunday, 3 October: Prizegiving Ceremony at La Citadelle

For more, visit