28 September 2016
Comme un air de déjà vu
This summer's special relationship between Lionheart and Velsheda continues to flourish at Les Voiles de Saint Tropez where the prevailing light winds and high proportion of reaching, round the buoys racing do not offer anything like the value and intensity of hard windward-leeward courses amidst an evenly matched, tight group of J Class Yachts.
But like an enforced French Riviera romance both crews are making the very most of the fact that they are the only two J Class yachts here. The rivalry on the water is acute and hard fought but when the Saint Tropez courses offer so few passing lanes and tactical opportunities there is no gloating, no pressing home of the day's bragging rights.
"It was our day today. We got ahead at the start, a little jump off the line and that was enough." Bouwe Bekking's report on the second day of racing for the two Js amidst the mixed fleet 18 boat IRC Class A, "It's always fun to be racing here, a nice place to end the season. It was one of those rich get richer scenarios that we have seen a lot recently between us, but it was really down to the start. We started on Starboard and below Velsheda and were able to push them up a bit and from there we got away. But that is Saint Tropez. The owners love to come here, we love to come here and we all take it as it comes because it is a beautiful place to go yachting. And a lot is about making sure our owners are having a good time and enjoying themselves. We would love to be racing hard in a fleet of five Js but that is next year. This is gentlemen's racing and that is just fine."
There was some bungee effect, expansion and compression around the course which as usual finished off Saint Tropez harbour but in the end Lionheart won the J Class duo's match by around three minutes.
"Painful." Was Velsheda navigator Campbell Field's one word sum up.
"It was very light airs again and a bit of a follow the leader affair after another reaching start. Our starting strategy was sound but we got messed up by a couple of other boats. Lionheart got away and from there was not much chance to come back. Even with the breeze clocking right, starting at between 020 and 030 and going all the way to 100 or 110 degrees, it was a procession with not too many chance to get back to them. But we learned a little. We are looking at sails and crossovers with a view to what we do for next year. But overall it was a pretty good day. There were some difficult dynamics. We got stuck in the dirty air of another big boat for a while and had nowhere really to go. But then that happened to Lionheart as well as it probably did everyone."
"But everything we do is constructive. Every minute we go sailing we are learning."
And meteo guru Field's forecast for Thursday.
"Plenty of hot air." He smiles. "All of it on the dock and in the cafés. It's Lay Day."
Plus ca change.
As they say in Saint Tropez.