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
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...
The New Glasgow marina is located about six miles up the East River of Pictou in the heart of the ...
The British Virgins took a huge hit last fall from Irma. Boats were stranded on the shore by the ...
Located about half way between Shediac and the Miramichi on New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast, the town ...
Suddenly the once forsaken city of Hamilton, Ontario is booming for at least two good reasons.
The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) invites all sailors to join a cruising rally from the ...
Long popular with New England and St. John area boaters, Passamaquoddy Bay is too often overlooked ...
We did breakfast yesterday in the Greek port of Piraeus, just outside Athens:strong coffee, crisp ...
After much speculation Prince Harry finally popped the question to American actress and longtime ...

 Killarney

KillarneyStory and Photos by: Jennifer Harker

We’re aboard Attigouatan, a Pursuit 2260 that normally lives life as a friend’s cottage boat, running back and forth from dock to dock. This will be her longest run in four years, travelling the approximately 120 kilometres (80 miles) northwest from Parry Sound to Killarney, threading our way through the northern reaches of the stunning 30,000 Islands of Georgian Bay’s eastern shoreline.

Her name evokes an early indigenous name for Lake Huron – Spirit Lake. 

Read more about Killarney....

  

Lifestyle

  • Prev
This photo from a CPS member shows how talented boaters are. Brenda Cochrane from Kelowna BC, a ...
The first part of this blog will show that not every day is blue sky and sunshine in the Bahamas!
This beauty came our way from Reel Deal Yachts in Bahia Mar, Florida. Why not charter for the ...
This new legislation from Washington State Department of Fisheries applies to boats launched in ...
Don’t miss this brilliant photo double header
In honour of Launch Day, our POTW this time comes from Wendy Loat in Port Credit. This shot, taken ...
Our favorite, Man-O-War Cay, is home to the Albury Boat Building empire. They have been building ...
On the Easter Weekend, the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club from Vancouver Island, had its first ...
We were finally able to get a SIM card and data plan on our phone Monday morning. We could now ...
It’s Friday afternoon at the Newport Yacht Club in Stoney Creek, and that can only mean one thing - ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...
Jeanneau’s newest NC model is the NC 33, and it’s an exciting and innovative inboard cruiser ...
The Four Winns H290OB combines two of the most popular new big boat trends to come up with a great ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...

 

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440By Zuzana Prochazka

There are few things more satisfying than watching someone thumb their nose at tradition and introduce something revolutionary that kicks convention to the curb. French designer, Philippe Briand, has done just that for Jenneau’s new line of Sun Odyssey family cruisers. By starting with a clean sheet, Briand re-thought how we move about on deck and below, and the results on the Jeanneau 440 are game changing.

Jeanneau unveiled the first hull of their 440 in Annapolis with dramatic flair. On command, the plastic that sheathed half the boat...

Read more about the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440....

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
CYOB readers often ask questions about their boats and system. For this issue, I’ve answered a ...
Modern marine engines run at very high temperatures and rely on a few methods to keep their ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...
In the early spring, just after launch, with the hustle and bustle of engine checks, antifouling, ...
All engines, including marine engines (inboards, outboards and stern drives) have many moving parts ...
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sacrificial anodes – those curious knobs of raw metal ...
I once heard an argument at a yacht club. Two old salts, patiently itching to let go lines and ...
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 
This one-day course consists of both theory and practical demonstration sessions, is designed to ...
Water has a funny way of making its way into a boat: through through-hulls, stuffing boxes, leaks, ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System
Verviers, Belgium, 18 May 2018 — Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion technology, ...
Again, we return to the beginning. We started this column with a look at marine navigation for ...
Ga-Oh (spirit of the winds in Algonquin) creates bags and other items from re-purposed sails.
The 2018 Northwest Boat Travel Guide just arrived. This time of the year is the perfect time for ...
We are all looking to gain a little more time these days, and technology is often the route we ...
While they are no longer a part of the CPS Flare Program, Fogh Boat Supplies and Fogh Marine, both ...
We have all had the experience of heading down below on a nice boat only to encounter an unpleasant ...