Stellar Sailing in St. Barths’ Spring Fling

Picture-perfect conditions greeted the fleets to kickstart the 10th anniversary edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille

Scallywag
The 100-footer SHK Scallywag, starts comfortably to weather of its rivals in the Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille regatta's opening day. Peter Harrison's J/V 72, Sorcha, finished the day atop the standings.Christopher Jouany

Of the 2019 entries in the Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, almost 30 percent are first-timers, a sure sign of this regatta's popularity known for delivering the perfect blend of great racing, gorgeous scenery and the St. Barth signature relaxed shoreside atmosphere.

“Everything about this regatta is so nice,” said Marijn Van der Straaten, the Dutch sailor from Curacao, here for the first time racing in CSA 5. “I like the harbor here, and how all the boats and the Race Village are all so close together. The set up makes it so much more personal. This is how a regatta should be.”

In CSA 1, Kuka3 (Cookson 50), leads the fleet of seven, followed by Pata Negra in second, and Triple Lindy, the second Cookson 50 of the fleet, in third. According to Rob Trainor, sailing on board Triple Lindy, the boat is named by owner Joseph Mele in tribute for Rodney Dangerfield's signature move from the classic movie "Back to School." The team represents at least six countries and has sailed around the world in events such as Sydney to Hobart and now Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille.

The Kid, a JP-54 skippered by Jean-Pierre Dick, is currently in fifth place. "The game was quite tight, especially with both Cookson 50s," he said. "The maneuvers were very important. I think we have done well today overall with no major mishaps and clean maneuvers. I've known St. Barth for a long time, but this is the first time I've sailed at this regatta, and it's so beautiful racing along the beautiful coastline."

Credit Mutuel - SGS begins 2019 event in the same form they finished the 2018 edition - sitting in first in the CSA 5 division. Team Island Water World, the smallest boat in the regatta, is in second, and Maelia Caisse d'Epargne Cepac Antilles is in third. Currently in fourth, the J/105 Sunbelt Realty Jenk team hails from Caracou and Bonaire, and is thrilled to be racing at Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille for the first time. "We love to sail new regattas each year, to see new things and learn new islands," said Van der Straaten, who is tactician on board.

For John Vincent, skipper of the chartered TP42 Phan in CSA 3, it’s his first time racing in St. Barth as well. Hailing from Santa Barbara, Calif., he is already calling it, a magical experience: “The whole island is incredible, the people, the food, plus the boats that are here are off the charts, it is all just incredible. It’s already the most special sailing experience I have ever had, and I’ve been sailing my whole life.”

Vincent is sailing with his long-time crews that he races with between California on a J/111 and Florida on his Aerodyne 38. "We hit 20 knots of boatspeed today and that's just a fun thing to do. My other boats are a little smaller than this, and this boat is 30 percent faster. We were first to finish, so that always feels good, but will have to see how the ratings work out for us. A few technical issues, but we feel like we can pick up more time as the regatta continues, but overall for our first day racing I give us a B+ score."

Phan currently sits in third place and will have their work cut out for them racing against Les Voiles' regulars, the Melges 32s Lazy Dog and Kick 'em Jenny, in first and second respectively; with Taz, a Reichel Pugh 37, in fourth.

Another Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille first timer is Chris Brody, skipper/owner of El Ocaso, a J/122, who has also fallen under St. Barth’s charms. “We already love it here, and have just had a ball. We’re here from the UK with my family and some of my regular crew. Although we didn’t do as well as we hoped today, we expect to improve as the regatta continues,” he said with a smile. “Conditions were lovely, we had a bit of everything, some light, some heavy and it’s all good. It’s our first time back on the boat in almost a year so we have to remind ourselves how to sail her again. It’s always the little things and the fleet continues to improve, so if you make small mistakes you get hammered for it.”

Across the eight-boat fleet in CSA 4 is Holding Pattern (ST 37), Liquid (J122), El Ocaso (J122), followed by Touch2Play Racing (Reflex 38) in first through fourth, respectively.

In the three-boat fleet of Maxi 1, currently Sorcha emerged as the top boat of the day, and is skippered this year by Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille 2019's ambassador, Pierre Casiraghi. SHK Scallywag, the Dowell 100, sits in second overall, followed by Ambersail 2. Miles Seddon, navigator for SHK Scallywag, was pleased with their first day out. "What a nice day - we had great wind, a few small squalls came through which made it a bit gusty and shifty," he said. "It was a really nice course, and a really good effort." In Maxi 2, the Swan 80 Selene owned by Wendy Schmidt, sits in 1st, followed by Windfall and Sojana.

Racing continues through April 20.