The Maxi are back . . . It was awesome – classic big wind St Barts; what you come here for.
After a two year hiatus due to the pandemic, racing at last resumed at Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille, the third and penultimate event in the International Maxi Association’s Caribbean Maxi Challenge.
And what a start it was with the easterly wind firmly in the low 20s and gusting more with large waves rolling in from the Atlantic.
Race Director Luc Poupon and the race team sent the Maxi class off from Gustavia on the south side of St Barts on a 28 mile course to the northwest towards St Maarten, taking in many of the islands that make up the Saint Barthelemy Nature Reserve before returning to the finish near the start area.
“It was awesome – classic big wind St Barts; what you come here for,” recounted Jim Swartz, whose Judel Vrolijk 72 Vesper topped the Maxi class today. “It was really a great fun race, very shifty and gusty, tactically very challenging. Gavin [Brady, tactician] was having fun.”
Of the race itself, Swartz continued: “We had a nice match with Bella Mente on the first beat – classic boat racing, which was really fun. Then we rounded the mark and under spinnaker downwind we were doing fine – they got ahead of us, but we were right with them.”
Unfortunately their subsequent spinnaker drop didn’t do as well and the sail ended up being trawled, breaking several stanchions as the crew scrambled to recover it.
It also prevented them hoisting their jibtop at a crucial time and all would have been lost had their rivals not had their own troubles allowing Vesper, lower rated under IRC, to prevail.
The peppermint green former Maxi 72 now leads the Maxi class after day one.
In second overall is Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, now with two extra foot on her stern, ahead of George David’s Rambler 88, Wendy Schmidt’s Botin 85 Deep Blue and the Mills 68 Prospector.
The other maxis, competing in the CSA 3, raced a shorter 24 mile course rounding Ile Fourchue, instead of the Maxi course around Roche Plate slightly further offshore.
Coming into the regatta race fit after competing at the St Thomas International Regatta, Jim Madden’s Swan 601 Stark Raving Mad VII prevailed among the lower rated maxis. Second was OM II the Swan 58 of Shahid Hamid (GBR) and third the Vismara 62, Yoru, of Luigi Sala (ITA).
1st Vesper CAY 007 JV 72 – Jim Swartz (USA)
2nd Bella Mente USA 45 JV 74 – Hap Fauth (USA)
3rd Rambler 88 USA 25555 Juan K / 88 George David (USA)
4th Deep Blue CAY 85 Botin 85 – Wendy Schmidt (USA)
5th Prospector USA 60669 Mills 68 Larry Landry/Paul McDowell/Martin Roesch (USA)
Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022 – Day 1
CSA 1 – 1st Caro, CAY 52 – Maximilian Klink (SUI)
CSA 2 – 1st Arabella, GBR 3112X – Niall Dowling (GBR)
CSA 3 – 1st Stark Raving Mad VII, USA 61011 – Jim Madden (USA)
CSA 4 – 1st Jokers on El Ocaso, GBR 4860R – John Maybury (IRL)
CSA 5 – 1st Pata Negra, GBR 4669R – Bernard Girod (USA)
CSA 6 – 1st Blue Skies, FRA 53131 – Gerald Quenot (FRA)
Offshore Maultihull – 1st Mach Schnell USA 12 – Kent Haeger (USA)
Racing Multihull – 1st Team Arawak – Francois Nel / Rodney Williams (SXM)
Diam 24 – 1st Crybaby FRA 971 – Pierre Altier (SXM)