A change in conditions necessitated a change in gear today for hundreds of sailors competing at Les Voiles de St. Barth. After yesterday’s opening-day race was marked by fresh breezes of 15 knots, crews were forced to contend with a light flow of 5-9 knots, and it took great finesse to make moves on the water that could count on the scoreboard.
Another single race was held for nine classes, with CSA 4 and Melges 24 sailing the shortest course of 17 miles that passed by Saline Beach and le Pain de Sucre (Sugar Loaf); Classes 1, 2 and 3 sailing 20 miles past Iles Fourchue and Pelé et le Boulanger; and Class 0, Maxi 1, Maxi 2 and Multihulls sailing the longest course of 23 miles that extended to Mancel.
“The concentration you need to steer the boat in these conditions is amazing,” said Sergio Sagramoso, whose all-Puerto Rican crew aboard the Melges 32 Lazy Dog added a second victory to its score line to secure the top spot on the scoreboard above the Ker 11.3 Dingo. “The start was the hardest part for sure…in these kinds of conditions with that many boats on the line. We were lucky we had a decent one, and that set the tone for the whole race.”
Sagramoso competes in as many Caribbean regattas as he can each year and calls this one his top choice. He has been here five times and has won twice.
“Hopefully I’ll win again this year,” he said, adding that he knows the boats in his class really well. “Dingo beat us in St. Martin, and we are beating them here, so it’s competitive. We are not professional sailors; we’re all very good friends from Puerto Rico from many years back, so we have a good time even if we don’t win.”
Aside from good – or just downright lucky – starts, patience and superb light-air boat handling was imperative to advancing throughout the day.
Yesterday’s leader in CSA 4, the Jeanneau 3200 Credit Mutuel – Maximarine, with Marc Emig at the helm, kept its spot at the top of the scoreboard with another victory today.
“We need to have a lot of wind with this kind of boat, as it’s very heavy, but today was good,” said Emig. “After our start, the wind went right, and we were in a good positon to pass the first buoy and stay second in real time. We finished 13 minutes behind Wild Devil and that was enough for us to win on handicap.” Emig, from Marseilles, goes to Martinique two months a year to sail with his team, so he is confident about his chances here. As well, this is his third time in a row here competing, and he won both times before.
Yesterday’s leader in Melges 24 class, GFA Caraibes, with Martinique’s Nicolas Gillet at the helm, is sharing the same point score at the top of the scoring with Team Island Water World after finishing third to Water World’s first today.
“The light wind today has complicated the situation,” said Gillet, who participated in Les Voiles last year for the first time and finished second. “Moreover, in our fleet, the leads have not stopped switching. We were ahead at the beginning of the race, then we were last and eventually finished third. The objective is obviously to do better this year, but it’s not going to be easy. We will enjoy a good day of rest tomorrow to restart the machine properly on Friday!”
Tomorrow’s lay day, for some, is considered the best part of the regatta. Featured will be fine fare and fun at Nikki Beach, where light wind will only entice participants to enjoy the blue water and contests planned upon it. Racing will resume on Friday and conclude Saturday, April 16.