St Barthe 2016
Feb 22, 2016

(Richard Mille, Ken Read, Steve Benjamin)

"Even if the event is getting bigger and bigger, its soul remains the same….” No words better recap six seasons of Les Voiles de St. Barth than those spoken by Richard Mille whose namesake watch company is the regatta's Official Partner.

Photos courtesy: Marco Oquendo/imagesbymarco.com

Certainly, the number of teams competing in Les Voiles de St. Barth has grown from 27 in 2010 (the inaugural year) to 70 in 2015, with 80 expected for the event's seventh edition on April 11-16. And thankfully, bigger has meant better in the sense that each year's four days of racing (over five days) off the fashionably remote French West Indies island of St. Barthelemy seems to trump the previous year. The courses are constantly fine-tuned and made more challenging by an expert Race Committee; the transport of yachts and equipment proves consistently less complicated with the help of the regatta's concierge service; the nightly parties and lay-day events ashore grow more colorful and telling of the island's indulgent pleasures; and the sailors as a group become more eclectic and diverse, with individuals joining the fun as professionals, amateurs or a combination of both, and coming from not only the West Indies but also the balance of the Caribbean, the U.S., France, UK, and countries as far afield as Africa, Germany and Holland.

As for the soul of Les Voiles, it is in everything that gives off good vibes, including the tradition of naming a “Godfather” each year to watch over the event and curate its spirit as the most important regatta on the Caribbean yacht racing schedule. For 2016, the honor has been bestowed upon American Ken Read, considered one of the world's most accomplished and celebrated sailors. (He succeeds last year's Godfather LoïckPeyron, a Frenchman with an equally impeccable yacht racing pedigree.)

“It's an honour,” said Read about the designation, which he adds to more than 40 championship titles in the sport.  “Anything to lend a hand to grow the event or the sport is important to me.”

As he did at last year's regatta, Read, who is President of North Sails, will skipper Netscape founderJim Clark and his wife's (supermodel Kristy Hinze-Clark) radically designed speed machine, the 100-foot Comanche, in the races – with the Clarks aboard. But however fun it might be blasting through the fleet on the largest boat there, Read says there is “not a shred of doubt” in his mind that some of the best knock-out rounds for class wins and overall victory (the latter for the ultimate prize of a coveted Richard Mille watch) will come in divisions for boats in the 40- to 55-foot range. 

“You have the well-established Maxi 72s coming, and just behind them in size there is this really hot, growing segment of the sport,” said Read. “In fact, the USA's current Yachtsman of the Year Steve Benjamin is coming with his fun new toy, the TP52 Spookie, so you know if you follow that talent, they will all be there. Spookie will have to work really hard, but it will be fun to watch.”

Benjamin agrees that his work will be cut out for him, citing as threats last year's class winnerVesper, the TP52 steered by American venture capitalist Jim Swartz (also a past Les Voiles de St. Barth Godfather) who will be assisted again by his long-time navigator, the New Zealander Gavin Brady; the TP52 Sorcha, last year's runner-up to Vesper, skippered by Great Britain's Peter Harrison,who is the European distributor for Richard Mille; and the TP52 Conviction, with Dutch steel industry magnate Austin van'tWout at the helm.

“We've had our hands full with some of these teams in the past, and we have great respect for all of them,” said Benjamin.

Other contenders that may fit into Spookie's rating band are Piet Vroon's Ker 51 Tonnerre 4, with Frank Gerber of The Netherlands skippering, and Jens Kellinghusen's German entrant Varuna VI, the new Ker 56 with Spanish navigator/Volvo Ocean Race veteran Guillermo Altadill and American main trimmer/speed coordinator Hartwell Jordan aboard. Boats in the 40-foot range to be considered in final class splits include the chartered Mills 39 Ramanessin and King 40 Corr's Light. Having won its classes here in 2014 and 2015, the Irish Ramanessin team, skippered by investment manager and race-car-driver-turned sailor Christian Zugel, is no stranger to this event. On the other hand, the Corr's Light team, led by St. Thomian skipper Peter Corr with offshore sailing notables David Sampson (Loki), Nathan Ellis (CaolIla R, Wild Oats) and America's Cup veteran Mal Parker aboard, has added Les Voiles to its tour of Caribbean regattas for the first time. 

“Last year was our team's first time at Les Voiles,” said Steve Benjamin, recounting that he skippered his previously owned Carkeek 40 (also named Spookie) to a third in class behind VesperandSorcha, “but as a crew I had done the regatta aboard Decision back in 2012. I knew it was a great regatta, and I really wanted to get back, so we were lucky enough to do that in 2015. Now my wife Heidi and I both just love St. Barth.” Heidi Benjamin regularly sails as part of Spookie's afterguard along with St. Thomas's Olympic Silver Medalist Peter Holmberg, who serves as tactician, and American Anderson Reggio, who serves as navigator.

As his Yachtsman of the Year title implies, Benjamin knows a thing or two about good racing venues and calls the on-water experience at Les Voiles “incomparable” because of winds that are so reliable and courses that fascinate with a variety of wind angles, sea conditions and navigational challenges. “We really like the island race format, and St. Barth is the best for that, with some stronger conditions on the island's back side providing exhilarating planning conditions.”

Both Benjamin and Read agree that the onshore experience at Les Voiles also stands apart. “The ambience can't be touched,” said Benjamin, while Read, who has sailed on a maxi boat of one kind or another in every edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth, added, “It's not the daily grind of other regattas where you get up a six in the morning and you are working until eight at night. It's super competitive, don't get me wrong, but here, you can go diving at six in the morning, and by eight you can be enjoying the entertainment, the French restaurants, and the unique social side of things.”

Read paused, then laughed before making a final point: “Actually, from the moment you take your first rather intimidating plane ride into the airport at St. Jean (where a hillside requires a steep descent and the single airstrip is notoriously short, ending right at the beach), it tells you this experience is going to be something different. The Island just has a flavor unto itself.”

 

Destinations

  • Prev
Toronto sailor and former RCYC coach/sailing instructor Ryan May is now a US coast guard captain ...
Just before the weekly party at Shirley HeightsSunsail staffer Chris Donahue conducts our chart ...
Chartering in the Caribbean conjures up images of turquoise sea, palm fringed beaches and great ...
Since anyone who opens an independent bookstore is at least as brave as a small boat shop owner, I ...
You’re on your way east to the 1000 Islands or the Trent-Severn. By entering north of Prince ...
I have lived in Ontario my whole life but have only recently had the pleasure of visiting the City ...
My trip to the Northwest Passage started long before I boarded the flight to Kangerlussaq with ...
During the summer of 2016, my wife and I cruised through the North Channel in Lake Huron on our ...
It’s like we’ve waved a magic wand and disappeared into a picture perfect painting, our ...
The Schooner Cove Yacht Club is situated between Nanaimo and Parksville, on the east coast of ...

Cowichan Bay to Genoa Bay – Almost the Gulf Islands

Cowichan Bay to Genoa Bay – Almost the Gulf Islands

 By Catherine Dook

“So you’re going offshore to Genoa Bay,” said an old salt at coffee that morning. Genoa Bay was 15 minutes away from our homeport of Cowichan Bay and hardly counted as offshore, but it was our first destination that fall. The fog had socked us in all that morning, so John and I drank coffee and gossiped with the neighbours while waiting for the weather to lift. We’d provisioned with cans of chilli, a sack of apples, and tanks full of water. We’d tested the engine and the anchor winch. We were ready.

Read More of Cowichan Bay to Genoa Bay.....

 

 

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
One of our most enthusiastic contributors, Rob Dunbar sent us this photo from Halifax.   ...
Checking back into the US was quick and painless. We made the call to Customs but we needed to ...
Two-hundred-year-old homes are what ghost stories are made of, and Beaconsfield Yacht Club (BYC) ...
This time our photos come from Gimli where Katie Coleman Nicoll was on the scene. She’s an ...
Recently we celebrated our country’s 150th anniversary, and in true form thousands of ...
   We left off Part 1 at the year 1914, and will here pick it back up, running through ...
This week’s POTW comes from across the pond. Who knew we had a European audience   ...
Here is our boat anchored at Hockey Stick Bay. We live in a beautiful country.     ...
Michelle Jacques of Cambridge ON share this memory of her adorable pooch. “This is Frodo. ...
  Our 150 year history began in 1867, but Canada was no stranger to watercraft prior to our ...

 By: Katherine Stone

Two-hundred-year-old homes are what ghost stories are made of, and Beaconsfield Yacht Club (BYC) has its fair share of both. Although no one has seen any apparitions, a former club restaurant manager swore she could feel a presence whenever she went down to the cellar to get supplies.

Shift back to the beginnings of an area known as Beaurepaire. The first land concession on Lake Saint Louis at Pointe Beaurepaire was obtained from the Sulpicians by Jean Guénet in 1678. 

Read More about the Beaconsfield Yacht Club....

 

 

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...
Cruisers Yachts debuts the all-new 42 Cantius. The sporty, luxury cruiser will make its first ...
Once again, the designers at Jeanneau have outdone themselves with the innovative new Leader 10.5 ...
The introduction of X-Yachts’Xc range in 2008 has proven itself to be something of a game changer ...
Hull #1 ZINNIA, the all-new, twin outboard MJM 35z left Boston BoatWorks on July 5 for Newport and ...
Following a 10-year hiatus, Richmond, BC-based Crescent Custom Yachts is once again launching ...
According to the folks at Fraser Yacht Sales, you couldn't ask for more - the new Azimut Atlantis ...
During those cold, cold, sunless, dreary months of January and February, I want to remember the fun ...
The Rossiter 23 Classic Day Boatis both a logical extension of the Canadian-built Rossiter line and ...
It's rare for Canadian Yachting magazine to report on the same boat twice, but that is how ...

 

A Trip To Iconic Italian Yachtbuilder Riva And Lake Como

Riva And Lake ComoStory And Photos By Iain Macmillan

Eyes turn and conversations on shore pause as one boat in particular approaches the Grand Hotel Serbelloni’s jetty that extends out into the sparkling blue waters of Lake Como off Bellagio, northern Italy. It’s not because the Clooneys, George Lucas or Richard Branson are on board, not this time anyway, the attention is on the boat itself. The world’s most valuable, most magnificent mahogany launch, a classic 1960s Riva Aquarama, is paired appropriately with Como’s most prestigious hotel, its Michelin star dining room and suites that have housed royalty; a perfect mix of pleasure, luxury and a distinguished history.

Read more about Riva and Lake Como....

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
 Since the initial article of this column we have identified a wide range of apps and ...
Since the initial article of this series we have looked at the iPad and its use as a marine ...
The moment we all dread. It’s a warm sunny day and you’re out for a cruise. Suddenly ...
For most of us – this is the time to make the most of the boating season – launch and ...
Question: Is it possible to mount, protect and charge your iPad during marine navigation. ...
  Is iNavX the superlative marine navigation app?    
Question: Can I buy generic automotive parts or products for my boat, or should they specify ...
  There is a good deal of hesitancy and lack of understanding as to whether an iPad can ...
‘Top dead centre’ is the position of the wheel that allows you to steer your boat ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
With all the devastation in the eastern Caribbean a natural question to ask is ‘is our boat in that ...
During the heat of summer, many boat owners turn on their air conditioning units. Whether portable ...
A milestone has been reached. The new D13-1000 sees Volvo Penta move into the 1000hp marine leisure ...
  Still looking for the perfect slip for your boat? Look no further!    
Canadian Yachting traveled to Newport to review and sea trial the new MJM 35z.     ...
Erik Pawson Of Watertight Boatworks here in North Vancouver, BC, is really passionate about the ...
Hydro Clean Hull Wash is Canada's first automatic, mechanical hull wash system and the company has ...
For 2017 there were a total of 31 events planned and 2 were cancelled for a total of 29 events. All ...
When Terry Conrad, of Conrad Marine, offered me ride in a brand-new Sea Fox 288 Commander that he ...
EMCS Industries Ltd. has a unique antifouling system that’s quite clever and incredibly ...