The show goes on in St.Tropez

Over 150 boats and 2,000 sailors graced the waters of the bay of Saint Tropez for the 22nd edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez which took place 26 September to 9 October. 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 schooners. There were numerous races each week, despite the gales which battered the south-east of France, and each of the two sub-divisions crowned some magnificent champions.

The addition of a new start line set just off Portalet along the harbour wall delighted the racers and spectators, as crews were happy to get out racing and show off their superb steeds up close to the public in Saint Tropez. There were also a lot of newcomers to this regatta, including 6 Classic yachts and thirty or so Modern yachts, confirming the great appeal of the event in Saint Tropez, even in a most difficult context.

In order to ensure the best possible heath conditions during the event, all the teams within the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, the Town and all the partners rallied together around President Pierre Roinson and CEO Tony Oller who did a fantastic job in ensuring that health and safety were paramount. Unfortunately, this did have to mean that the traditional boules (bowling) competition, crew parade, crew festival and sardine feast could not be held this year. So disappointing but understandable.

After the first week of racing at Les Voiles, it was the gaff cutter Eva (Fife 1906) who won the prestigious prize of The Rolex Trophy. The Rolex Trophy gathered together 6 gaff riggers dating over a hundred years old and hence the oldest competitors signed up for Les Voiles. Eva, the elegant 1906 Fife design skippered by Charlotte Franquet and her 80% female crew, triumphed over Viola (Fife 1908) skippered by Mini sailor Fabien Després, with Lulu, one of the eldest yachts at Les Voiles, launched in 1897, completes this admirable line up.

Trophies at Les Voiles 2020:

Town of Saint-Tropez Trophy awarded to the Modern yacht with the most points in all the categories combined: King of Blue – Pascal Fan

BMW Trophy for the first IRC C boat: Couleur Soleil – Robert Coriat

North Sails Trophy for the first Modern IRC B: Daguet2 – Frédéric Puzin

Suzuki Trophy for the first Modern IRC D: Lady – Nicolas Gonzales

Marines de Cogolin Trophy for the first modern IRC E: King of Blue – Pascal Fan

Torpez Trophy for the first Classic Period Gaffer A: Scud – Patrizio Bertelli

Mercantour Events Trophy for the first Classic Marconi B: Palynodie – Henri Ferbus

Bessarat de Bellefon Trophy for the first Classic Period Marconi A: Varuna of 1939 – Jens Kellinghusen

SNSM Trophy (French lifeboat association) for the Classic Period Marconi B): Meerblick Classic – Otto Pohlman

808 Trophy for the first Classic Period Marconi C: Andale – Laurent Jacques Vernet

Yacht Club de France Trophy for the YCF’s ‘favourite’: Pantaia (Illing 1962)

Everyone involved in Les Voiles was delighted to have been able to round off the sailing season with such flair, particularly in light of the great slew of regatta cancellations in 2020. There was also an increase in friendliness and empathy amongst the competitors on the dock after racing which was one advantage of the smaller fleet and a more intimate event. Long may that continue as it is the camaraderie is the best thing in yacht racing, especially classics.

Pierre Roinson, President of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, racer and participant in the IRC D category added “…. Launching this 22nd edition was a massive challenge. I’d like to thank all the owners and skippers for trusting in us. Everyone is delighted to have been able to get out sailing. It’s important to realise that for a great many competitors, the race season began and ended with Les Voiles! Everyone’s happy, despite the lack of festivity and sociability on land, which are one of the signatures of Les Voiles. However, I’ve witnessed very nice social exchanges between the boats, which is something that had begun to disappear slightly, and which, given the context, spontaneously resurfaced between the crews on neighbouring pontoons. That’s a wonderful thing because you rediscover an atmosphere where sailors and crews chat about that day’s races once they get back to the dock.”

In IRC 1 Leopard3 gives no quarter as she devoured the course at a blistering pace, the Farr 100 prototype knocked spots off the competition, finishing over 30 minutes ahead of her fastest rival, the large Swan 82 Kallima, utterly dominating the fleet today and the overall ranking. The other Swan 80 Umiko burst across the finish line under spinnaker to preserve her 3rd place of the day, taking second place in the overall ranking ahead of Kallima.


Elena and Puritan, the large gaff schooners were in their element. The two fabulous schooners, respectively with an LOA of 37 (Puritan) and 51 metres, (Elena of London) added the Classic touch to a fleet of 20 Maxi yachts this week and with it the magical, timeless image of beautiful gaff sails and long slender white hulls on the azure seas of the bay. At ease in the breeze and the light airs, the immense Elena (Herreshoff 2009) had the edge over Puritan (Alden 1931) in a friendly showdown that was all about style rather than pure performance.

The Trophies awarded in the second week of Les Voiles:

Town of Saint-Tropez Trophy: Yacht with the most points, all categories combined: Leopard3

Besserat de Bellefon Trophy: First Classic yacht: Elena of London

North Sails Trophy: First Modern IRC 1: Leopard3

Torpez Trophy: First Modern IRC 2 yacht: Ryokan2

808 Trophy: First IRC 3 yacht: Criollos
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. …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.”



Meet Our Classic Yacht Columnist Alice Widdows.

Alice is a regatta manager on the Superyacht circuit offering a first-class racing experience.

A keen yachtswoman and self confessed island-hopping addict, preferably by boat!  

Alice Widdows PR, Events & Marketing 

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