On Sunday, Tom from the Boatbookings Team was lucky enough to get out on the water for an afternoon of sailing on board THE BLUE PETER. Built in 1930, she has been under the ownership of owner/skipper Mat for 13 years. THE BLUE PETER and the ocean are evidently two of Mat’s greatest passions in life! He has nurtured her and restored her into the beautiful condition that she is now in – a true labor of love! THE BLUE PETER is currently undergoing a comprehensive refit following the installation of a completely new mast. Her new mast is 2.5m taller than her previous one and, with a larger mainsail, this makes her even faster and more spectacular than she was before!
She has had many successful regatta outings over the years, this year being no different. She has consistently been one of the top competitors with strong performances in the Monaco Classics Week, Regatta Royales in Cannes and Les Voiles de St Tropez. Mat and First Mate Gary welcome guests on board to join them for exciting Regatta Charters, their comprehensive packages ensuring that you will truly experience classic regatta racing on one of the most successful and prestigious boats in her class.
Mat, Gary and their crew are about to embark on a transatlantic crossing via Barcelona and the Seychelles before crossing the Atlantic to Antigua where she will be based over Christmas. In the New Year, THE BLUE PETER will sail to Barbados, Grenada, St Maarten, St Barths and the BVIs, entering regattas along the way, before returning to the Mediterranean in May for another exciting summer of racing on the Riviera!
LES VOILES DE SAINTBARTHis a regatta that is barely four years old yet today has become a must-do on the event calender of all amateur and professional sailors. The diverse sailing, beautiful weather, and stunning scenery has become an addictive cocktail that lures the world’s best sailors from the still wintery continent to the barmy shores of the Caribbean. It takes place from April 8th – April 13th 2013 around St Barth in the Leeward Islands – known for its decidedly french flair and friendly atmosphere.
Race director Luc Poupon prepares a diverse portfolio of races – 28 in fact; departing from Gustavia’s harbor and finishing in the “petits saints” area. He does this just so on race day he can choose the four final courses according to the weather and the yachts racing – such is the meticulous organizing and preparation of this event! The courses range from 14 to 40 miles in length and with the dependable trade winds providing anything from 5 to 30 knot sailing and the variety of small islands, bays and headlands, there is a fantastic variety of sailing that can keep even the most experienced sailors on their toes.
Race Director Luc Poupon confirms “St Barth’s configuration is a real advantage for us: the coast landscapes of the island are very different from one another and there are about 15 small islands around St Barth, which give us the opportunity to organize diversified race courses, with multiple legs and sail angles and therefore a lot of manoeuvres for the crews“ The success of this Regatta is plain for all to see. The debut of this event in 2010 saw 28 entrants which swiftly moved to 48 in 2011 and 58 in 2012. This year there are currently 62 entrees competing and the window is still open.
Jim Swartz – one of the top sailors taking part this year maintains that the key to the events success comes down to the “fair division by rating in each of the classes, with deep competition within; the race courses, which are very distinct and class appropriate; and the professionalism of the race committee itself.”
Remarkably THE BLUE PETER is still available to charter for this race. She is a stunning, classic yacht, 19.65m in length and with skipper Matt Barker at the helm (who himself has won many regattas) still looking for crew members, this is a fantastic opportunity to take part in the Regatta!
If you are looking to charter a yacht to race in a regatta or simply to watch with cocktails in hand, get in touch with us at www.boatbookings.com. We organize all sorts of charters around the world with our highly qualified team that has intimate knowledge of the destinations and yachts that are available. We leave no stone unturned in matching not just the yacht and the destination to your requirements but also the crew, itineraries and all other subtle aspects that comes together to create a charter of a life time!
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To true sailors, there’s nothing like a classic yacht regatta. One could spend an entire day just looking at the yachts’ gorgeous lines, woodwork and finishings, but to actually crew on one in a regatta surrounded by these beauties is about as good as it gets. Add on top the sun, beautiful blue sea, views of the French Riviera, superyachts and villas, a fun crew who loves what they’re doing and the excitement of trying to win a race – and you can see the deep attraction that people have to classic yacht regattas.
We had the pleasure of crewing on the Blue Peterduring the Voiles d’Antibes this week. Captain Matt Barker is a veteran of many regattas and has built an excellent crew and track record over the years. He has a relaxed demeanor, but make no mistake, he takes the race seriously and loves to win!
The race has several parts: pre-race planning, the start, racing the course, finishing, and celebrating (whether you won or not!)
About an hour before setting sail, the whole crew gets a briefing on the weather, their jobs for the day and anything else that might be required of them. Everyone is assigned to a specific area of the boat and task – there can be no training once the race starts. Some help with navigation, some with trimming the sails, some with raising and lowering the spinnaker and foresails.
There is anticipation in the air, but everything is still calm especially on a day like today when there isn’t much wind.
Around 11:00, most boats started out of the port toward the start of the race, directly outside the port. Along the way, we had to make way for a few super yachts that decided they needed to start their cruises in the middle of a regatta.
Most boats do a quick shake down, testing the wind and sails and making sure all crew members were comfortable with their tasks for the day.
There was not much wind, but the sun was peaking through the clouds, meaning that the breeze would freshen as the land heated up and created a convection current.
There’s nothing quite so chaotic as the start of a regatta. Boats maneuver for position as successive guns go off signalling 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 2 minutes to start. Because they’re under sail, the yachts don’t have a lot of ability to avoid other boats who might be trying for the same position as you. Everyone is at close quarters, and it’s not unusual to hear a bit of shouting between boats about who has the right of way.
Oops – at the start we heard a second shot, meaning at least one boat had jumped the gun. Despite years of practice and coordination, part of our boat was over the line at the gun. We had to turn back and try again, losing somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute.
The course today would take us by some of the most valuable real estate in the world – from old Antibes around the villa-laden Cap d’Antibes, to Juan les Pins and Golfe Juan and back. The first mark was east of Antibes toward the Nice airport, then back toward and around the Cap.
We got stuck (as many other boats did) in a particularly dead area just after the start, and were literally barely moving for about 5 minutes. Some boats in our class escaped earlier than we did, while others were mired in it for 20 minutes more.
The breeze freshened as we headed back to Cap d’Antibes, and we finally felt like we were sailing. We performed several tacks and ultimately put up the spinnaker. Once the spinnaker was up (which many refer to as the “kite”) the crew had little to do except eat a sandwich and watch the villas go by.
When we got to Golfe Juan, we did have a bit of excitement, as we performed a “Kiwi Drop” (raising the foresail, while dropping the spinnaker at the same time as you’re jibing around the mark). This was made more exciting by cutting between the gorgeous classic yacht Cambria and another smaller boat right before the mark. Just as it looks like the day will end with these gorgeous yachts in splinters, they magically avoid each other and round the mark.
Despite our slow start, we made up a lot of ground on many boats, as the Blue Peter is quite a fast boat and we made some good decisions as to where the wind would be. We were unable to place first in our category, but did end up 4th out of 10, just 2 minutes out of 2nd place. Our slow start had made the difference.
No matter where a boat finishes, there’s ample reason for celebrating at the end of the day. Two perfectly executed “Kiwi drops”, nice sailing around the Cap, and beating our arch competitor Halloween by nearly 30 minutes were all reasons for champagne, rose, white wine and any food that could be found in the galley.
A superb day on a beautiful yacht, with a fun and dedicated crew sailing in the Cote d’Azur. Exhilarating, exhausting, not to be missed!