Aboard S/Y SAVANNAH during the Voiles St Tropez Regatta

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of crewing aboard SAVANNAH, an “Esprit de Tradition” yacht in the Voiles St Tropez. Esprit de tradition yachts are traditional sailing yachts that have been upgraded to use all modern technology available while still retaining their original hull.  Savannah, was refit in 1997 by Concordia from an old hull 27 meter hull in Savannah, Georgia. She is owned and raced by Ciaran Caulfield and Hugh Morrison.

The Voiles St Tropez is a glorious event, held the first week of October each year.  Over 300 of gorgeous classic sailing and modern sailing yachts (and an entire class of Wallys) converge on St Tropez to race, discuss sailing, party and generally oogle the beautiful yachts as they close out another summer in St Tropez.

The weather for Saturday was predicted to be stormy, but the crew woke up to glorious sun pounding through the haze of late night partying at the “Cave” (St Tropez’ most exclusive nightclub).  The sight of hundreds of racing yachts readying for the final race is amazing to behold – all in their yacht’s uniforms as they prepare the sails and discuss tactics for the day.

SAVANNAH’s braintrust, Hugh and Ciaran, planning the tactics for the race.

The weather was quite calm, so once on the water, there was little to do but cruise around, check the sails again and watch all the other beautiful yacht cruise by.  At noon, the appointed start time, there was barely a breeze, so the race was delayed.  The wind began stiffening, as it does so often, any by 1:00 there were 8 knots of wind.  We got the warning gun at 1:07, signalling 9 minutes to start. Sails up, jockyeying for position – the calm was now a buzz of activity.

The typical pre race chaos ensued, and we crossed the starting line at 1:18 pm. Here we are as we cross the start.

It was not the best of starts, and our nemesis SHAMROCK, although starting behind us, had greater speed and better position, and soon passed us while covering our wind.

With gennekers up heading down the first leg, no other boats in our class (Esprit de Tradition) could keep pace with SAVANNAH and SHAMROCK –  it would clearly be a two boat race.  Here you can see two of our class that we left behind.  At the first mark, we were a minute arears of SHAMROCK.  We began closing as we sailed back up toward St Tropez, but couldn’t cut the lead to less than 40 seconds.

We crossed the finish line just over a minute behind SHAMROCK.  The official results, with adjusted times were not live on the web site at the time of this writing (probably a result of too much partying last night), so we’re still waiting to see how we ultimately ended up.  We had been 3rd in the overall, and were hoping to retain that spot!

After the race, we took part in the traditional post race festivities, which included hitting the bar at the Cafe de Paris, and cocktails aboad the beautiful Hallowe’en classic yacht.  When last seen, the crew of SAVANNAH were preparing for dinner and another night at the Cave to close the club for the year.

If you have a chance to visit St Tropez during the first week of October, it is highly recommended!  Thanks as always to Ciaran Caulfield for letting me crew on his gorgeous yacht!!

About Tom Virden

Founder, Boatbookings.com

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