A total of 3,500 sailors, 304 modern and classic yachts took part in last week's 9th edition of the Voiles de Saint-Tropez 9/10/07

A total of 3,500 sailors, 304 modern and classic yachts took part in last week’s 9th edition of the Voiles de Saint-Tropez.

J one triumphed in the Wally category, Morning Glory confirmed her great season in the modern boats, and Eleonora in the hands of Philippe Lechevalier was back in form and lived up to her ambitions.

A Wally 80 gets top billing: J One
Once again, the general public was particularly attracted to those astonishing futuristic machines, the Wally boats, both out on the water and inside the Old Harbour in Saint-Tropez. While Luca Bassani, who lies behind the concept and is the Wally CEO, dominated the start to the week on Tango – a huge, deep, black hull marked with just a red rose on the stern – in the end it was JC Decaux’s J One, who finished on equal points to win the title in the hotly contested Wally category. First in the third race and ending up just one point behind, the brand new Y3K completed the podium. A wonderful performance for this yacht, which recently came out of the yard to make her first appearance out on the water in the Voiles in St Tropez. We can add that for the first time this year, the Wally boats started separately from the other categories – thanks to their own race committee- off Pampelonne, on specific courses.

Modern boats: Morning Glory, Plattner’s glory
Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory reigned supreme in its category of large IRC A boats in this ninth edition of the Voiles. With two race wins and two podium places, the large Maxi yacht left its main rival, Rambler, one point behind in the overall rankings. Titan 12, the Reichel-Pugh design and her crew inspired by Peter Isler, from the American challenger, BMW Oracle Racing finished in third place. They can all be proud of seeing off Ranger – with Brad Butterworth on board- and Velsheda, the two huge J boats.

In the other IRC classes, the fight was just as fierce. Leonardo Ferragamo, 4th on board his Swan 601 Cuordileone, saw the title grabbed by his Swan 42 of the same name at the top of Group B and can be proud that his ‘little’ Swan managed to hold off her main rival, Rambler, the former Alfa Romeo, in whose crew several top names from the last few America’s Cup events could be found.

In group C, Stéphane Neve achieved a perfect result by winning all his races with his A40 Spirit of Malouen V, while it was Cyril Baillie’s First 40.7, Sayann 2, which was top of the rankings in group D, where there were the most boats, as 43 took part. In group E, victory went to the Dufour 34, Flawless IV belonging to Philippe Cospain.

Classic boats: Eleonora wins
In the varied conditions week under the walls of St Tropez the leaders changed regularly throughout the regatta. Tuiga, the winner on Wednesday, then the very elegant fore and aft rigged schooner, Altaïr, which won yesterday, were unable to knock Eleonora off the top spot, which went on to win this battle, finishing with a climax in the wind and sun. Lulworth and Moonbeam IV, the two large fore and aft cutters entered a sumptuous duel, which turned to the advantage of the fast Fife, with her beam to the wind in the final run towards St Tropez and Portalet Tower.

In the other fore and aft rigged groups, Nan of Fife belonging to Philippe Menhinick won in B, while it was Guiseppe Jiordano’s Bona Fide, which dominated in C.

In the vintage Bermuda rigs, Agneta, Safir, Havsörnen and Windhover were respectively the 2007 winners in group A, B, C and D, while in the classics Galvana and Sagittarius were crowned.

Tifinou Esprit
In the traditional Esprit boats, honours went this year to the Tofinou class of small day boats with their elegant and old-fashioned look. The designer Philippe Joubert from the Joubert/Nivelt team, who was instrumental in bringing the Tofinous up to date, almost won the week’s event in St Tropez, where no fewer than 15 boats fought it out in elegant style amid the classic yachts. Philippe Joubert placed his Classic Attitude just behind Bellerophon and came in ahead of Azure belonging to the Englishman, John Kelly.

Fitted with a carbonfibre mast as standard, a canting keel and a small 14 HP engine, the Tofinou is a small, yet very fast yacht, which sails well and is easy to steer. Thanks to its deep keel with a bulb on the bottom, the Tofinou is sensitive to the slightest touch at the helm, offering all the excitement of a large yacht. The interior design is very simple, functional and easy to maintain.

Willi Balz’s Finsco, which won in the other traditional Esprit group.

12 m JI : Kookaburra 2 wins, Challenge 12 saves her season
“It has been a disastrous season for Challenge Twelve,”said her skipper William Borel. “We dismasted right at the start of the season in Valencia and found it hard going throughout the year. However, coming second here in St Tropez has enabled us to win the Mediterranean Championship. This week in St Tropez has been exciting, even if we tripped up a few times, in particular losing a crewman overboard today two minutes before the start. We managed to get him back on board in time to beat Valiant and Courageous. The standard of the competition was simply amazing, with for example Philippe Presti at the helm of Kookabura 2, the winner here in S. Tropez. It made the racing all the more exciting.”

The America’s Cup turned up in St Tropez
Lionel Péan, tactician on board Sojana was witness to a very British struggle between his crew, under the direction of Peter Harrison – the former boss of the British challenger in the 2003 America’s Cup, GBR Challenge, and the crew of Hamilton belonging to Charles Dunstone, the new boss of the future British challenger, Teamorigin. Sojana came in at the finish a whisker ahead of Hamilton.

The winning skipper from the last America’s Cup, the New Zealander, Brad Butterworth spent the week in St Tropez. While he enjoyed sailing around the Gulf in his magnificent J class, Ranger, he was also preaching in favour of the new class America boat that he is proposing as Defender: “A lot of people were fed up with the current boats. We’ve been talking since Auckland about the need for a change, but the idea of making a bigger boat comes from an inspiration from the past. The J Class were in themselves works of art, and we want to be inspired by them as we enter a new modern era. Carbon boats, with a limitless amount of sail and with large bowsprits…They will be a pleasure to manoeuvre, with no motorised gadgets on board…”