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Les Voiles 2020 rises to the challenge

by Maguelonne Turcat 10 Oct 2020 08:29 PDT 26 September - 9 October 2020
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez © Gilles Martin-Raget

Friday night's prize-giving for the second week of action at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez 2020 proved to be a solid indication of the high level of satisfaction shared amongst the owners, skippers and sailors after another wonderful week of racing.

It was also the point selected by Pierre Roinson, the new President of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, event organiser, and the new General Manager, Tony Oller, to underline the success of a challenge that was a long way shy of being a done deal just a fortnight ago, given the colossal amount of constraints associated with the current health crisis. With everyone's help, from the sailors to the volunteers to the partners and the institutions, both on shore and at sea, the event was finally able to be hosted, and so the saga of Les Voiles, which began in 1999, has been able to be run without interruption, and already all eyes are on the 2021 edition.

Racing: at last!

For the past fortnight, over 150 boats and 2,000 sailors have graced the waters of the bay of Saint Tropez. The numbers may be a long way down on the 300 boats usually recorded at the event, but they nonetheless made these Voiles 2020 a reality despite the exceptional circumstances. For a great many of the competitors, it was the first and last regatta of the season and the immense pleasure they got out of sailing was palpable. For its 22nd edition, Les Voiles was also experimenting with a brand-new format. In this way, 130 boats, split into 6 Modern groups and 9 Traditional groups hit the racetrack in the first week, before leaving the way clear for 20 Maxi Yachts and two sublime schooners. There were numerous races validated each week, despite the gales which battered the south-east of France, and each of the two parties crowned some magnificent champions. With a start line set just off Portalet for all the series, this highly unique edition in so many ways, delighted the racers no end, the crews very happy to get out racing and show off their superb steeds right up close to the public in Saint Tropez. There were also a lot of newbies at this event, including 6 Classic yachts and thirty or so Modern yachts, confirming the great appeal of the event in Saint Tropez, even in a difficult context.

Quotes from Les Voiles:

Pierre Roinson, President of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez
No break in the history of Les Voiles!

"We pulled it off! Organising our 22nd edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez whilst adhering to the health and safety guidelines has been a massive challenge. After a fortnight of action at Les Voiles, the overall sentiment shared by the teams is one of happiness. These Voiles has been so difficult to organise with so many uncertainties and authorisations to secure and so on... but it's all come together fantastically well! We've had some wonderful days, some great races and the owners, skippers and sailors are heading home very happy. Everyone has been frustrated that they haven't been able to race this year. All our volunteers, both on land and at sea have been fantastic. We're obviously really pleased to have been able to run these Voiles, together with major support from the Town. By remaining vigilant and careful, we've avoided any problems. We're going to continue with the idea of keeping the big boats separate from the rest of the fleet, both for safety reasons and because we'd like to keep the race starts in the bay in front of the port, and we'll continue speaking with the respective Classes to refine the programme. We have a very good team of full-time staff at the club, and above all we have an extraordinary team of volunteers who help us run it so successfully."

Georges Korhel, Principal Race Officer
A spectacle for spectators that is up close and personal!

"Speaking as the organiser, everything has gone well with this new race format, enabling all the participants to set sail just in front of the port. The first week, with 'just' 130 boats, went very well, and even with double the number of boats, we're convinced it'll remain manageable. Our teams are honed. Everyone does what they're supposed to, which is a tribute to our teams! We need to offer a greater selection of long courses for the big Modern boats, which have to rack up the miles and the distance in order to really express themselves. We also need fewer round the cans races. We'll adapt that next time around, whilst retaining the principle of a two-week event.

We have some very spectacular Modern boats here, and the bay lends itself to putting on a show. As such, we can offer a perfectly adapted playground so the public can watch these fantastic craft in action, with routes up close and personal to the jetties of Saint Tropez. It's the perfect showcase for promoting our sport."

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