Les Voiles De St. Barth

Photos and videos from the competition, including the showdown between Comanche and Rambler 88.

Seventy teams will race on 27 different course choices with distances ranging from 10 to 42 miles in the 2015 edition of Les Voiles De Saint Barth, starting April 14th. Headlining is a first-time matchup between the newest break-through speed machines, Comanche and Rambler 88. A balance of eight other Maxis between 63 and 90 feet in length with highly recognizable names such as Bella Mente, Lucky, Odin, Lupa of London, Selene, and Aragon makes this the most formidable Maxi Division that has shown up here since the regatta's inception six years ago. Extremely tight competition also can be found in five Spinnaker Division classes as well as in classes for Racing Multihull, Non-Spinnaker and Melges 24 one-designs. Forerunners in these classes will no doubt distinguish themselves before the Lay Day on Thursday (April 16), if not sooner. The second half of racing for Les Voiles de St. Barth resumes on Friday and Saturday, April 17th and 18th, for a total of four racing days.
Videos, Racing Day 1:

Video, Racing Day 2

Videos, Racing Day 4

The event has been growing steadily since its inception in 2010 and hosted 70 boats in this sixth edition, all with their own brand of famous sailors aboard from all over the world. Boats competing ranged from speedy multihulls such as Lloyd Thornburg's Mod 70 Phaedo^3 to technologically sophisticated new-builds such as George David's Rambler 88 and Jim and Kristy Hinze-Clarke's Comanche (at 100 feet, one of the largest boats here) to the more traditional grand prix racers in the 50-70 foot range and smaller racing/cruising boats. There was even a one-design class for Melges 24s (the smallest boats competing) that are as fun, physical and demanding in teamwork and skill as their larger counterparts.Christophe Jouanny/ Les Voiles De St Barth
After a bullet in Saturday's race, Bella Mente moved its way up from a fourth to a second place overall at Les Voiles de St. Barth. The team dealt with a few challenging obstacles throughout the week, including a DNS in the first race of the week due to a minor equipment failure. Owner/Driver Hap Fauth on the regatta: "We had some physical problems the first day, but after that everything was just fine. Like in most series, you always want to win the last race, so we did and the numbers stacked up. Rambler won, but everyone else was tied and so we ended up winning the tiebreaker."Christophe Jouanny/ Les Voiles De St Barth
Byron Erhart's Rp 63 Lucky stays just ahead of Steve Benjamin's Spookie as they duke it out on the first day of racing. The course started off Gustavia Harbor and led counter-clockwise and three quarters of the way around the eight-square-mile island of St. Barth before rounding a buoy off St. Jean and heading back in a clockwise direction.Christophe Jouany/ Les Voiles De St Barth
Competition has been tough in the Spinnaker 0 class. “We are in a class with TP52s, which in every handicap system seem to be the sweetheart boats,” said Spookie's Tactician, Peter Holmberg, after Day 1 of racing. “We know we just need to sail out of our league to beat them.”Christophe Jouany/ Les Voiles De St Barth
The Mod 70 Phaedo 3 won the Multihull class for Day 1. The foiling G4 Timbalero III's successful attempt to port-tack the fleet at the start looked swift, but it wasn't swift enough to hold off the giant green trimaran, which started slightly late at the windward end of the line but came screaming in with all of its power. While Timbalero III continued on starboard tack out to sea, Phaedo 3 continued on port tack to shore, then tacked up the shoreline for a horizon job done not only on the other multihulls but also the entire fleet. Phaedo 3 finished the long course in just over two hours and 25 minutes, approximately 34 minutes ahead of the next fastest boat in the fleet, Comanche, whose long-awaited battle with Rambler 88 finally began.Christophe Jouany/ Les Voiles De St Barth
"We're not here for rating honors," said Comanche's helmsman Ken Read. "Our goal is to be first to finish (over the line), and clearly it will be a lot of fun lining up against Rambler, a very similar boat, for the first time. They'd like to beat us boat-for-boat, and we'd like to beat them boat-for-boat, so I think the sailing world is excited to see this. We're excited to see this."Christophe Jouany/ Les Voiles De St Barth
TP52 Vesper on Day 1 of racing. "Today was typical St. Barth conditions--20 knots of wind, big waves and a lot of reaching legs, so it was a lot of fun being on a boat like a TP52 and surfing downwind in big waves," said Gavin Brady, tactician aboard Vesper, which was today's winner in the six-boat Spinnaker 0 class. "We had a good day, starting the regatta off with a win. We have large spinnakers on the boat for this event…so it worked out really well. We hope these conditions last for the rest of the week."Christophe Jouany/ Les Voiles De St Barth
On Day 1, though Comanche beat Rambler by ten minutes in real time, which pleased her crew, Rambler had to be satisfied with beating Comanche on corrected time (5:04:48 compared to Comanche's 5:11:30), even with a spinnaker problem that forced them to change headsails and cost them several minutes.Christophe Jouany/ Les Voiles De St Barth
On Day 2 of racing at Les Voiles, the race committee sent the Maxi 1, Maxi 2 and Multihull classes on a 42 nm course that started off Gustavia and looped around St. Barth before continuing across the Canal de Saint Barthelemy to round the island of Tintamarre (east of Saint Martin) to port and return its players to a finish near where they had started. The course is designed to test speed records in Les Voiles–the same course will be used in future years to establish when records are broken at the regatta.Christophe Jouany/ Les Voiles De St Barth
["Day 2] was a perfect day for us, the goal was to sail the exact same type of race we were going to sail yesterday,” said Bella Mente’s Tactician Terry Hutchinson, adding that the team still hopes to capture first place in the final two races this week, to help make up the score gap after a minor equipment failure forced them to withdraw from Day One of racing. “Hap nailed the start as the pin-end boat. The whole fleet tacked and we went a little further and got a really nice lefty. We sailed up and around the boats to leeward of us and from there it was a matter of good boat handling and executing the sail changes well, which the guys did.”Martin Keruzore/Les Voiles De Saint Barth
"It was a little bit like NASCAR racing out there: drive fast and keep turning left," said Phaedo 3's skipper Lloyd Thornberg about the course on Day 2, which will be the same one used in future years to establish new records if today's are broken. Thornberg rules for now, however, with his MOD 70 trimaran's zip around the course in one hour, 53 minutes and 35 seconds, giving it line honors in the Multihull class well ahead of the next finisher, Comanche, whose time of 2:33:04 set the course record in the Maxi 1 class. Posting a time of 3:38:07, Odin now holds the record in the Maxi 2 class.Christophe Jouany/ Les Voiles De St Barth
Under a gray sky that struggled to hold back rain, 70 teams competing at Les Voiles de St. Barth set out from the Port of Gustavia for a third of four racing days that followed a sunny Lay Day. With Spinnaker class 0 joining them, Spinnaker classes 1,2,3,4 and the Melges 24 and Non-Spinnaker classes returned to a course of 23 miles that they had sailed on opening day, while Multihull and Maxi 1 and 2 classes sailed a longer 32 nautical mile course. It, like the shorter course, hooked almost completely around St. Barth in a counterclockwise direction before turning back for a clockwise rounding of the island and to a buoy set just downwind of the finish, all the while challenging the sailors with wind shifts, outcroppings and varying water depths for consideration in choosing the fastest route home.Christophe Jouany/Les Voiles De Saint Barth
George David's entry Rambler 88, with victories in all of its three races, decisively lead the Maxi 1 after the third day of racing.Michael Gramm/Les Voiles De Saint Barth
Puerto Rican entrant Lazy Dog had three firsts after Day 3, and continued to lead in the Spinnaker 1 class.Michael Gramm/Les Voiles De Saint Barth
All eyes had been on Rambler 88 and the larger Comanche during the first two race days, since no one had yet seen the two boats sail against each other. The powerful Comanche showed blazing speed, taking line honors in two races, as it would in the two races held after the mid-week Lay Day. It was Rambler 88, however, that prevailed with corrected-time performances, giving the team three first-place finishes in a row.Michael Gramm/Les Voiles De Saint Barth