25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

It was just at sunset, in the end, when Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam broke the finish line off Barcelona’s iconic W-Hotel to complete their victory in the Barcelona World Race. They punched the air with delight as the gun sounded after 84 days and 5 hours of racing, a joyous release of elation and relief. Within seconds they had their technical team and family aboard on board Cheminées Poujoulat to share the moments.

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race)

25/03/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm/Jean Le Cam) arrival in 1st place. (Photo © Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race)

Both Stamm and Le Cam have endured more than enough of their own histories of disappointments racing round the world to ensure that those seconds after the gun meant so much more.
Stamm was disqualified from the last Vendée Globe for inadvertently receiving outside assistance and in four campaigns has yet to be placed in the pinnacle solo round the world race.

Le Cam once had to abandon the Vendée Globe, in 2008, when his boat capsized off Cape Horn. He also had to retire from the last edition of this race in 2011 when the mast ofPresident, the IMOCA 60 he raced with Bruno Garcia, crashed down just north of the Cape Verde islands. So their success together was as much cathartic as it was a time for celebration.
So, when asked when he was really sure they would win this Barcelona World Race, despite a lead of nearly 1000 miles since before Cape Horn, Stamm admitted:
” When we crossed the finish line, we knew then that we could win.”  
And, following his short, curtailed experience of the 2010-2011 race,  Jean Le Cam was asked if ever he had specific worries about the mast of Cheminées Poujoulat coming down during the race. He responded immediately:
“No. Not at one point………. Only all the time. All the time. It is always with you. It is the most visible and important thing you can see. And when it has happened to you before, it is always in your mind.”
On the dock, below the statue of Christopher Columbus on Barcelona’s Portal de la Pau, they were quizzed for their first reactions:
What does it represent a victory in the Barcelona World Race?
Bernard Stamm: We are always happy and now we are happy because there is a victory after a great adventure …
Jean Le Cam: When we win, we can only be happy. We left Barcelona, it was a circumnavigation and we returned to Barcelona, it’s as simple as that.

Jean Le Cam at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Jean Le Cam at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

What are your first feelings?
Bernard Stamm: First and foremost there is a great satisfaction. It all worked well, we managed to overcome all our technical problems and we can say that we have had enough of them.
Jean Le Cam: Certainly. I think that alone, we would not have finished the race. Fortunately Bernard knows well how to climb the mast.
Bernard Stamm: It’s a team effort. The guy who’s on the deck has to work as well, he has to grind to  hoist the one who will work up there. We had lots of problems but together we were able to find solutions.  That is what is different from being two soloists on the same boat.
Bernard Stamm: For three months you share your race with someone else. When we had a technical problem, we were both thinking, we exchanged ideas. And all the time you are keeping the boat moving.
Jean Le Cam: And we had plenty of worries. We went half way around the world with a wind vane cobbled together on a little mast on the back of the boat, which we changed depending on what tack we were on. We finally got one to the top of the mast as you will see there is an external cable running up to it.
Bernard Stamm: We had also had lock worries on the mainsail. I can say that when we successfully repaired them, it was a moment of true happiness.In the press conference:
What were the shared moments of happiness?
Jean Le Cam: Inevitably, when we get to find solutions together, then you share that happiness together. We can’t forget that we had a really windy south, it was a year to remember.
Bernard Stamm: And then there is also the pleasure of making a good move or two.
North of Canaries before reaching a Gibraltar that will be remembered. At first you are so focused and busy, but then like then you see the results and enjoy it.
Jean Le Cam: That’s it. Two up you can really share, it is a really rich experience.
Their relationship? Arguments?
Bernard Stamm: ” If we had any problems with each other it was because we were tired or stressed or both, it was a reflex reaction and these just come and then they are gone as quickly as they came. We generally got on very well. We just focussed on making the boat go well, and as that is a difficult boat to handle, we just basically did not ever have any time to do anything but work on the boat, there was no time for arguments.”
Jean Le Cam; “We are still together. It is not La Vie en Rose. It is like being a couple. We each have carry our own cross. It is not easy for us. You just have to concede things to each other and get on with it, get through each day.

Bernard Stamm at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Bernard Stamm at press conference (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Bernard Stamm: ” I have wanted to participate in the Barcelona World Race since the first edition but have  not been able to, so to be able to compete this time, and to win it, is a great reward. I have had a lot of adventures, bad experiences on races, but I have had some great victories too. I have only ever won races which are round the world races.
Jean Le Cam: We always watched all the others, it is always interesting to watch what they are doing, and especially Bruno Garcia who I did the last race with, to see how they were doing. You have an interest in everyone, it is part of the daily life.
Skills, how they worked the boat
Bernard Stamm: ” You have different skills. We covered everything together. I looked after the computer side of things and Jean did more of the techncial stuff on deck. We never, ever defined our roles as such. “

 

Barcelona World Race 2014-2015 Winners Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm at finish line in Barcelona after completing circumnavigation on their IMOCA 60   Cheminées Poujoulat, in 84 Days 5 hours. (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

Barcelona World Race 2014-2015 Winners Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm at finish line in Barcelona after completing circumnavigation on their IMOCA 60 Cheminées Poujoulat, in 84 Days 5 hours. (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget / Barcelona World Race )

 

Solidaire Du Chocolat Fleet At Start (Photo by Franck Socha / Sea&Co)

Solidaire Du Chocolat Fleet At Start (Photo by Franck Socha / Sea&Co)

Over the weekend, the more easterly boats in the northern group of the fleet tucked into the Trade Winds while the western pack have yet to taste the north-east breeze. Although the endless headwinds have ceased, the 12 days of slamming upwind left a legacy for Giovanni Soldini and Pietro d’Ali on Telecom Italia with the failure of the upper swivel on their forestay furler. Fortunately, as the headstay crashed to the deck, the inner forestay held the mast in place and in the 0800 GMT position poll this morning, the Italian duo are making just over eight knots, 52 miles behind the race leader.

South of Telecom Italia, the current race leader, Tanguy de Lamotte and Adrien Hardy on Initiatives-Novedia have crossed the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and at the same latitude as the southern tip of Florida the French duo are continuing south-west towards the mandatory race gate off the island of St. Barts making the best speed in the northern group of 12.5 knots in approximately 16 knots of south-easterly breeze. Behind the race leader by 92 miles, Bruno Jourdren and Bernard Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat in 3rd and Damien Seguin and Armel Tripon on 4th placed Cargill-MTTM have finally separated after sailing in close formation for the majority of the past week with Seguin and Tripon opting to drop south on Sunday afternoon and slipstream Initiatives-Novedia. Since this move south, Jourdren and Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat have built a 30 mile lead over their French rivals on Cargill-MTTM with both boats currently averaging 11 knots.

Separated by just over 100 miles and in the same ESE breeze of around 16 knots, the Anglo-Australian team of Tim Wright and Nicholas Brennan on Sail4Cancer hold 5th place with a 61 mile lead over Peter Harding and Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees with the Finnish duo of Jouni Romppanen and Sam Öhman on Tieto in 7th currently 44 miles off the starboard quarter of 40 Degrees while Harding and Merron average the best speed in the trio of 11.6 knots.

Solidaire Du Chocolat Fleet (Photo by Bruno Bouvry)

Solidaire Du Chocolat Fleet (Photo by Bruno Bouvry)

Flanking the main body of the fleet, Felipe Cubillos and Daniel Bravo Silva in 8th on Desafio Cabo de Hornos hold the northern station while Denis Lazat and Frédéric Nouel on PLAN in 10th maintain their southern position and are enjoying the Trade Winds, while the Chileans in the north must wait a little longer for the north-easterly breeze. In 9th place, 588 mile behind the lead boat, Jacques Fournier and Jean-Edouard Criquioche on Groupe Picoty have taken the northerly option and, like the Chilean duo, will have to wait for the Trades while Stephen Card and Shaun Murphy on ORBIS further south in 11th reported earlier that they have already entered the north-easterly breeze.

Meanwhile, furthest north in the fleet, Patrice Carpentier and Victor Maldonado on Crédit Maritime in 15th place are in the grips of the Azores High which has returned to its traditional location over the remote group of islands and Yves Eclaret and Lionel Regnier, the fleet’s back markers on Vale Inco Nouvelle Calédonie, may have just linked with the Trade Winds. The southern group in the fleet are currently converging on the northern pack with Erik Nigon and Marc Jouany on Axa Atout Coeur Pour Aides in 12th place 712 miles behind the lead boat and 113 miles now separate Nigon and Jouany, David Consorte and Aubry Arnaud in 13th on Adriatech and Mike West and Paul Worswick on Keysource in 14th place with the British duo continuing to poll the highest speed average in the fleet at 13 knots.

 

Desafio Cabo de Hornos

“We don’t know how much wind we have but I think it’s around 20 knots and we’re reaching at 90 degrees, so we’re going quite fast, it’s comfortable and everything is fine. I think we’re going to sail more together with the rest of the fleet although I think, more or less, we’ll keep our position. We’re in perfect condition, we’ve slept well and we’re sailing in a direction so the boat isn’t slamming all of the time.”

 

 

The Mayas were the first to cultivate the cocoa bean in the 17th century BC on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. The divine drink xocoatl made from cocoa was said to nourish man after death, and its life-giving and aphrodisiac properties were already well known. Beans were dried, ground, mixed with hot water and then flavoured with chilli, spices or vanilla.

Spaniard Hernan Cortés disembarked in Mexico in 1519, conquering the New World. He was received like a God. He discovered xocoatl.

When Cortés returned to Spain in 1528, he described the virtues of this new beverage to King Charles I of Spain: “One cup of this precious drink enables a man to walk for an entire day without eating.”

The first commercial cocoa cargos reached Spain in 1585 but it was not until the time of Anne of Austria, Queen of Louis XIII of France and daughter of the King of Spain, that the drink reached France. Courtesans in Versailles adored chocolate.

Tales chases Novedia (Photo by Bruno Bouvry)

Tales chases Novedia (Photo by Bruno Bouvry)

Solidaire du Chocolat

Jim Mitchell's Vinctore Was Named Overall Rolex US IRC National Champion (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Jim Mitchell's Vinctore Was Named Overall Rolex US IRC National Champion (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

“This is a very emotional win for me,” said Jim Mitchell (Zurich, SUI), owner of the Custom 52 Vincitore, upon winning the 2009 Rolex Big Boat Series. “At the end of racing, when I looked at my Dad, who was out on the chase boat, we both had a tear in our eyes. The speech I gave on the first day was that we have a passion for sailing, a passion for friends and family, and we will let the results speak for themselves.” At the Rolex Trophy Ceremony this evening, winning skippers in six of the 11 classes competing were awarded one of six St. Francis Yacht Club Perpetual Trophies. In front of the owners, crew, family and friends of the 97 competing boats, those six skippers also were presented with a Rolex Submariner timepiece in recognition of their accomplishments.

As winner of IRC A class, Mitchell was awarded the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy. “I didn’t know it was the original trophy,” said Mitchell, clearly taken aback by the priceless silver piece dedicated in 1964, and deeded to the premier handicap division. “That’s a pleasant surprise. It brings a tear to my eyes. That’s so awesome.”

2009-rolex-big-boat-series-perpetual-trophy-winners

The St. Francis Yacht Club awarded its six Perpetual Trophies this evening at the Rolex Trophy Ceremony where each of the skippers was presented with a Rolex Submariner timepiece in recognition of their accomplishments. Class winners, from left: VELOS, Owner: Kjeld Hestehave Class: IRC B; GOLDEN MOON Owner: Kame Richards Class: Express 37; GOOD TIMIN' Owner: Chris Perkins Class: J 105; TUPELO HONEY Owner: Gerard Sheridan Class: IRC D; SOOZAL Owner: Daniel Woolery Class: IRC C; VINCITORE Owner: Jim Mitchell Sr. / Jim Mitchell Jr., Class: IRC A (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

As the top performing IRC rated boat, Vincitore – with tactician Norman Davant and helmsman Chris Dickson – was named the overall Rolex US-IRC National Champion, and Mitchell was presented with a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece to mark the occasion. “We are bringing Vincitore back again next year,” he promised. Tom Akin & Mark Jones’ (San Francisco) chartered TP52 Flash finished in second with John Kilroy (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Samba Pa Ti in third.

The St. Francis Yacht Club race committee planned the day’s final Bay Tour, but with light and inconsistent wind direction, racing was abandoned for the four IRC classes, along with the 1D35 and J/120 classes. The six races completed through yesterday (Saturday) stood as the final results.

The City of San Francisco Trophy, one of the two golden spades used to break ground for the Golden Gate Bridge in 1933, was awarded to Kjeld Hestehave’s (Richmond, Calif.) 73-foot Velos. Since the very first race, the largest boat entered in this regatta dominated his opponents in IRC B class with six straight race wins. Dale Williams’s (San Francisco) Kernan 44 Wasabi finished in second place, with Sy Kleinman’s (Saratoga, Calif.) Schumacher 54 Swiftsure II in third place, tied on 16 points with Wasabi.

“This win is 12 years in the making,” said Hestehave. “We were here in ’97 and ’98, and we got two second places that year. We were here two years ago and got killed by everyone.” Hestehave explained that he prepared Velos, the Greek word for velocity, for the Pacific Cup, fairing the bottom and getting it tuned. Originally, he planned to participate in StFYC’s annual Stag Cruise, which historically follows the Rolex Big Boat Series, but when he realized there wouldn’t be enough berths at the club’s Tinsley Island location, he brought Velos up from San Diego for the occasion. “We were here so we thought we might as well race the boat,” he recalled. “With 22 crew onboard, that’s a lot of drink tickets and a lot of sandwiches, and tonight is going to be very expensive.”

J105 Class Chris Perkins and Good Tiimin ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

J105 Class Chris Perkins and Good Tiimin ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Dan Woolery’s King 40 Soozal (Alamo, Calif.) won the IRC C class and the Richard Rheem Perpetual Trophy, which was established in 1972 in memory of Richard Rheem whose famous yacht Morning Star was the elapsed time winner in the 1949 and 1955 Transpac races to Honolulu. Gold Phoenix, the J/44 chartered by James Bishop (Jamestown, R.I.), finished in second, while Tim Fuller (Marietta, Calif.) and the J/122 Resolute finished third.

Only two entries had straight wins in all races: Velos, in IRC B, and Gerard Sheridan’s Elan 40 Tupelo Honey in IRC D class. “I’m feeling great, we really wanted it this year,” said Sheridan, who lives in San Francisco, but grew up in County Galway, Ireland. “We trained for it and the crew is outstanding. Every single one deserved to be on the crew, I’m delighted for myself and for my crew.” This is Tupelo Honey’s fifth Rolex Big Boat Series. It won its class in 2005 and finished second in the other years. Clearly happy to have won an IRC class at this year’s regatta, the 45th annual, he said, “I think IRC is saving big boat racing around the world. It’s giving a new sense of purpose to racing and serious big boat campaigns. Handicap racing is never perfect, but this is close to perfect.” Sheridan was awarded the Keefe-Kilborn Trophy, which was established in 1976 to honor Harold Keefe and Ray Kilborn.

 On the North course racing started late, but with a short-lived band of wind, the race committee was able to shorten the course and finish the Melges 32, Express 37, J/105, Beneteau 36.7 and Cal 40 classes.

The Melges 32 class was racing for its national championship. Philippe Kahn’s (Belvedere Cove, Calif.) Pegasus had to retire yesterday due to an equipment malfunction, but they were back on form today, winning the seventh and final race, putting them into fourth overall. Andy Lovell & Burt Benrud’s New Orleans-based Rougarou won the six-boat class and the title. Local sailor Don Jesberg and his Viva was second overall, with Stephen Pugh and Taboo in third.

Although Bartz Schneider won today’s final race in the Express 37 class, it wasn’t enough points to topple Kame Richards (Alameda. Calif.) and Golden Moon from the number one spot. Schneider’s Expeditious finished in fourth overall behind Mick Shlens and Blade Runner in second, and Michael Maloney’s Bullet in third. Richards also won the Atlantic Trophy. Established in 1978, the trophy features the ship’s bell of the yacht Atlantic, long-time Transatlantic Ocean record holder (1905). The bell was donated by John C. “Jack” Morris, and the trophy by Jack H. Feller Jr.

The Commodore’s Cup, which was established in 2004 to be awarded to the largest one-design fleet, was awarded to the winner of the J/105 class, Chris Perkins’ Good Timin’. “Honestly, Bruce Stone sailed a great series,” said Perkins of the fleet. “He only had one bad race and won three out of seven sailed. His Arbitrage is clearly one of the quickest boats. Everyone would agree he is quicker than us.” So what would Perkins credit his team’s win to? “The challenge in a 25-boat fleet is consistency,” he continued. “We didn’t have any big mistakes and that is what made the difference for us.”

Masakazu Toyama and Crew (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Masakazu Toyama and Crew (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

 While they may not have taken the overall 1D35 class win, Japanese entry Ebb Tide was clearly a crowd favorite and stepped onto the prizegiving stage to massive cheers and chants. Owner Masakazu Toyama has sailed the Rolex Big Boat Series for the past three years, each time in a different class, and this time the team’s efforts paid off with a trophy for 2nd in 1D 35. Toyama says he’d love to live in San Francisco one day, “It’s fun, and we will be back” he said with a big smile. Gary Boell and Diablita won the 1D35 class, Barry Lewis’ Chance won the J/120 fleet and Bill LeRoy and Gone with the Wind won the Cal 40 class.

Samba Pa Ti IRC A Overall Winner (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Samba Pa Ti IRC A Overall Winner (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

After a large area of thunderstorms moved through this morning, the over 1,000 sailors competing in day three of the Rolex Big Boat Series were given a new challenge: light wind and minimum visibility through the dense fog hanging low on the water. As locals are apt to exclaim – ‘It’s never like this in San Francisco’ – a theory confirmed by spectators lined along the sea wall and second-story viewing bleachers at St. Francis Yacht Club.

An on-time racing start by the StFYC volunteer race committee, lead by PROs Kevin Reeds (Annapolis, Md.) and Hank Stuart (Rochester, N.Y.), gave the 97 competing boats two races for a total of six races. Tomorrow’s final race – known fondly as the Bay Tour – will cap off a solid four days on the water.

Flash, the TP52 skippered by Tom Akin & Mark Jones, won the day’s first race, finished third in the second, and now stands in second overall in IRC A class, one point behind class leader Vincitore, the custom 52 owned by Jim Mitchell (Zurich, SUI) and driven by Chris Dickson. John Kilroy’s TP52 Samba Pa Ti finished 3-1 and is now in third overall.

The fastest boat around the IRC B racecourse today was Kjeld Hestehave’s (Richmond, Calif.) 73-foot Velos. Since the very first race, the largest boat entered in this regatta continues to dominate the class. It now looks untouchable with six total points. Sy Kleinman’s (Saratoga, Calif.) Schumacher 54 Swiftsure is tied on 16 points with Dale Williams’s (San Francisco) Kernan 44 Wasabi. “We are more than thrilled to be there,” said Williams, who figures he has competed in at least 20 Big Boat Series in his career, winning in 1999 with a previous boat named Wasabi. However, this Wasabi is brand new, designed by the same group who created Williams’ last boat the 70-foot Peligroso. “It’s really easy to sail,” he said. “We’re surprised how fast it goes. There’s a retractable sprit, but no spreaders, no runners, no reaching struts and no after guys. It’s fast at 12,900 lbs. with 6,700 lbs of ballast. It’s everything we thought it was and more.”

Willims set up a StFYC duel for second place tomorrow between his Wasabi and Swiftsure, giving the overall nod toward Velos. “That is a very well-sailed boat,” said Woolery. “They deserve to be out front. It’s been a lot of fun and really nice to sail against them and Swiftsure.”

Bustin Loose Sydney 38 Class Overall Winner (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

Bustin Loose Sydney 38 Class Overall Winner (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

Soozal, the King 40 owned by Daniel Woolery (Alamo, Calif.), continues to lead the IRC C class, with James Bishop (Jamestown, R.I.) and the J/44 Gold Phoenix moving into second overall ahead of Tim Fuller (Marietta, Calif.) and the J/122 Resolute.

“Today’s first race was a pivotal race for us. We didn’t know what to expect,” said Woolery. After corrected time, the relatively new boat took first place and then a second in the day’s second race. “The second one was a little more difficult,” continued Woolery. “Our jib goes up on a jib lock and it didn’t stay up on the lock. So, as we went to the bottom mark, our plan was to go into Alcatraz and through the Cone. We were behind Gold Phoenix and we thought ‘Let’s go into the cone.’ We were right behind them and immediately the jib fell down, and that forced us to tack over to clear it. We tacked back and as soon as we did, we realized we weren’t going to make the Cone, so we tacked over to the beach first. Phoenix did as well. When all was said and done we were seven seconds corrected in front of them. At that point the race became between us and TNT.

“If TNT had gotten second and not us, then that would have brought Phoenix a little closer in the gap” said Woolery. “We were in great tacking duels, and managed to tack our way up to Phoenix. We were a minute and a half behind when that whole engagement started, and we put almost a minute and a half on them. Overall we’re feeling really good.” Soozal has a four-point lead over Gold Phoenix going into tomorrow’s final race. “We’re going to win tomorrow,” he predicted.

Gerard Sheridan’s Elan 40 Tupelo Honey continues to dominate IRC D class with two more bullets. The San Francisco-based boat won both of today’s races on corrected time and, barring any mishaps tomorrow, stands to take the overall win. “Tomorrow we will go out and race like we like to race, which is fairly conservatively,” said Sheridan. “We don’t want to take any major risks.” This is Tupelo Honey’s fifth Rolex Big Boat Series. It won its class in 2005 and finished second in the other years. “At the start of the year I decided I wanted to win Big Boat this year,” he continued. “It’s the premier regatta on the West Coast, and here at the St. Francis, the race management is impeccable.”

In the grand-prix Melges 32 class, vying for its National Championship this weekend, New Orleans-based Rougarou looked unstoppable blazing downwind. With two more wins today – to add to a series scoreline of 1-2-1-5 – the team lead by co-owners Bert Benrud and Andy Lowell needs to finish fourth or better to win the title. Philippe Kahn’s (Belvedere Cove, Calif.) Pegasus encountered trouble in the first race and dropped out to expedite repairs. The team plans to be back in the race tomorrow. Local sailor Don Jesberg and his Viva is in second overall, with Stephen Pugh and Taboo in third.

Expeditious (Photo by Daniel Forster)

Expeditious (Photo by Daniel Forster)

 

Class leaders from yesterday that held onto the lead in other one-design classes include Pat Patterson (Angwin, Calif.) and Summer and Smoke in the Beneteau 36.7; William LeRoy (Tiburon, Calif.) and Gone with the Wind in the Cal 40; Kame Richards (Alameda. Calif.) and Golden Moon in the Express 37; and Chris Perkins (San Francisco) and Good Timin’ in the J/105 class.

The other two one-design classes saw a change in leadership with Barry Lewis’ Chance gaining a slight edge over John Wimer’s Desdemona, now in second place, in the J/120 fleet, and Gary Boell and Diablita taking over from Alex Farrell (Mountain View, Calif.) and Alpha Puppy in the 1D35 class. Alpha Puppy fell to third place, while Ebb Tide, chartered by Masakazu Toyama (Tokyo, JPN), moved into second.

 

J44 Gold Phoenix Won Race 6 In the IRC C Class (Photo by Daniel Forster)

J44 Gold Phoenix Won Race 6 In the IRC C Class (Photo by Daniel Forster)

Double Bullet for Golden Moon On The First Day of The Rolex Big Boat Series ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Double Bullet for Golden Moon On The First Day of The Rolex Big Boat Series ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

In Italian, the word Vincitore means ‘the winner’ so Jim Mitchell and his multi-national crew took the theme to heart by winning both races in IRC A class on the opening day of the Rolex Big Boat Series. Over 1,000 sailors on 97 boats in 11 classes are competing through Sunday, September 13. “I wouldn’t miss this regatta for anything,” said Mitchell, who grew up in Chicago but now calls Zurich (SUI) his home. “It was one of our crew’s birthdays yesterday, Dallas Kilponen, and I think our two bullets are the best present we can give him.” All of the IRC class leaders – Kjeld Hestehave’s Velos (Richmond, Calif.), Daniel Woolery’s King 40 Soozal (Alamo, Calif.) and Gerard Sheridan’s Elan 40 Tupelo Honey – joined the two-bullet club today, in the IRC B, IRC C and IRC D classes, respectively. All four divisions of IRC handicap-rated boats also are competing for the Rolex US-IRC National Championship.

The other two groups vying for national championships are the Express 37 and Melges 32 classes. For Burt Benrud, this is not only his first Rolex Big Boat Series but also his first season in the Grand-Prix one-design class. “This is our first big outing and we could have not picked a better location,” he said. Benrud, with co-owner Andy Lovell (New Orleans, La.) and crew on the Melges 32 Rougarou, won the day’s first race, took a second in the second and now sit in first overall in the six-boat class. “We are sailing under the Southern Yacht Club flag, and we are very proud to be able to represent our hometown.” Don Jesberg (Mill Valley, Calif.), the recent winner of the class’s North American championship, is in second place overall on his Viva, followed by Stephen Pugh’s Taboo (Sausalito, Calif.).

Melges 32's Taboo and Pegasus Cross Tacks (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Melges 32's Taboo and Pegasus Cross Tacks (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

“We actually had our first Express 37 National Championship regatta in 1986,” said Bartz Schneider, the class fleet captain and president, and skipper of Expeditious, currently in fourth place overall. “This is our 20th national championship at the St. Francis. In 1990 we had our first National Championship as part of the Big Boat Series, and except for 2001, we have had it as part of the regatta every year.” Leading the nine-boat class is Kame Richards’ (Alameda, Calif.) Golden Moon, with Elan, owned by Bill Reiss (Oakland, Calif.), in third. Schneider summed up the fleet leaders: “Golden Moon will be tough, with Bay tide guru Kame Richards at the helm. Elan will be very competitive. And Blade Runner (Mick Schlens, Los Angeles, Calif.), with their name already on the trophy several times, is always a possible threat.”

The largest one-design fleet is the J/105 class with 25 boats. Returning champion Donkey Jack, owned by Robert Conrads (San Francisco), took 13-6 in two races and is now eighth overall. Bruce Stone’s Arbitrage won the day’s first race, while Adam & Guillemette Spiegel’s Jam Session won the second, putting them into second overall behind class leader, Jeff Litfin & John Case’s Mojo.

Cal 40's Comtete For The First Time As A One Design Class ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster

Cal 40's Comtete For The First Time As A One Design Class ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

While many of the competing boats are from the Bay Area and California, some hail from ports across the US and abroad. Lorenzo Berho and his J/145 Raincloud hail from Mexico City, Mexico and are in sixth overall in IRC B. “Raincloud is a Mexican family and friends boat that has changed our lives, and also has helped us fulfill several dreams,” said Berho, who only started sailing five years ago. “We had a great experience in last year’s Rolex Big Boat Series that we decided to come back in spite of the difficult economic times, and for most of us that means traveling from Mexico City. The organizers are great and the competing boats are really friendly. Last year we got fourth place in our fleet so we would love to get a third place this year. We know that most of the fleet is very competitive and there are many experienced sailors with local knowledge. I am turning 50 years old on September 15, so I chose this regatta as my birthday present. There is nothing better than sailing with my family and best friends in the most outstanding Bay of the world.”

Jim Mitchell is another perfect example of the international aspect present here in San Francisco for racing. Now living in Switzerland, he launched Vincitore a year and half ago in New Zealand and when asked about his international crew – New Zealand’s Chris Dickson and Simon Minoprio among them – considering that many of the other entries in the race are locals, he quickly said, “Not us, we’re like the United Nations!”

When asked what makes him come back each year to San Francisco for the Rolex Big Boat Series, Jim said, “It’s just so much fun, the competition is great, you have the city, the weather- it’s always windy, constant wind. I really wanted to bring my boat to Europe and sail some races over there,” he continued, “but I want to sail with family and the guys from New Zealand like sailing in Chicago, San Francisco and the Caribbean. Bringing the boat here is just so fantastic and I’m glad to be here.”

Mister Magoo Leads The J120 Class After Day One ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

Mister Magoo Leads The J120 Class After Day One ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

This evening competitors celebrated the first day of racing at the Rolex Party where the first daily video was shown. The regatta ends with Sunday’s final Rolex Trophy Ceremony where specially engraved Rolex timepieces will be awarded to the St. Francis Yacht Club’s six Perpetual Trophy winners.

About St. Francis Yacht Club
Founded in 1927, St. Francis Yacht Club, within view of the Golden Gate Bridge, is a year-round host of over 40 regattas on San Francisco Bay. The club is renowned for its expertise in running world and national championships.

BT Sebastien Josse (Photo By Jacques Vapillon Pixsail.com)

BT Sebastien Josse (Photo By Jacques Vapillon Pixsail.com)

 

 

The 60 and 40 footers really showed what they were made of in the bay of Douarnenez in NW France today, such is their presence as they power along. Two starts were given this morning with remarkable precision on the part of the race committee headed by Loïc Ponceau: 1038 hours on the dot for the Class 40s and 1108 hours for the 60 footers, in exactly the same manner as yesterday. In contrast though, today’s weather conditions were very different, with 15 knots of N’ly wind and clear blue skies. The monohulls quickly devoured the 47 miles of the course which took them as far as the Tas de Pois and ultimately line honours at 1517 hours went to BT. As such the British contingent stood out, with Artemis getting off to the best start.  

Meantime Le Pal was the first out of the starting blocks in the 40 foot category and the self same Bruno Jourdren and his crew of Bernard Stamm and Kito De Pavant also led proceedings yesterday, even beating in two 60 footers, DCNS and Artemis. Today there was a bit of a frosty reception on Jourdren’s boat as the crew were forced to retire for technical issues, which nobody onboard wished to comment on. In substance, Nono (Jourdren) did admit that they could have continued but not without risk of damaging the boat, “a bit like when you have tooth decay and you don’t get it seen to so you end up with a stomach ulcer”. In short, this retirement gave Giovanni Soldini outright victory today. “It’s to thank him (Soldini), because he’s come a long way to come and sail on our waters”.  

For the Class 40, the Grand Prix Petit Navire is a gathering which completely corresponds with the mindset of the sailors in this series: a clever mix of sport and conviviality. So much so that the Class, which has seen a spectacular rise since 2006, is opening itself up ever more on an international level and gathers together both experienced amateurs and professional sailors. “They are boats which are easy to power up and incredibly entertaining on the water” explains Bernard Stamm, skipper of a 60 footer. “It’s rather nice to be invited to sail on a Class 40”.  

Fifteen nationalities in the Dragon class  

“The Grand Prix Petit Navire Dragon is the second largest French meet after Hyères Week” comments Jimmy Pahun, who’s racing on British Dragon Jerboa. “There are 15 nations, which is extremely interesting and the fact that there are so many craft on the water makes it an exciting exercise. It’s an admirable mix of cultures”. The president of the SRD who’s organising the Grand Prix, Louis Urvois, is also a Dragon enthusiast. “It’s a series which gathers together the greatest number of Olympic medallists. The technical level is very high. This boat requires a huge amount of precision and to finish in the top quarter of the fleet is a great result in itself. It’s hard to say who could win this year, but we can rely on the kings of the series such as Vincent Hoesch and Thomas Müller, as well as the Finnish crew of Rat-Pack, the Danish African Queen and a young French crew could really put on a good show on Q-Ti-Too”.  

Passion, precision and… loyalty is an asset and Bijou Bihen’s crew have an abundance of this as they haven’t missed a single one of the Douarnenez meets over the past 10 years. Francis le Bihan, Francis Mouremble and Régis Brachet form a closely-knit trio. Pure amateurs, they come all the way from Toulouse in SW France to the bay of Douarnenez ‘for the sheer enjoyment and conviviality’, even though they sincerely hope they’ll pull off a few blinding performances along the way. The race organisation was able to give the starts on three races today as conditions were great. The local trio of Dirastarc’h (FRA 355) got off to a great start as the top French crew after two races, before giving up pole position to a fellow local crew on Ar Youleg (FRA 365), currently in third. It came as no surprise that the battle has been raging between the Bunker Boys (UKR 8) and Sinewave (GER 996), with the latter winning two races but nevertheless lie in second tonight behind today’s start performers, the Ukrainians.  

The low-down on the pontoons this morning!  

François Angoulvant (Fermiers de Loué-Sarthe): “We’re happy with how the day went yesterday. We worked well scoring a series of third places. Today things will get a bit more complicated as there are three of us tied in second with Telecom Italia (Giovanni Soldini) and Zed 4 (Gérald Bidot). As such there are three of us battling for second and third place. Fortunately there’s more wind than yesterday: the race will certainly be more dynamic because yesterday’s racing was about as calm as you can get. I’m sailing with a group of students who are finding their way around the boat. This has always been the scenario on the yacht: it was designed by Olivier Gouard at the Institut Supérieur des Matériaux et Mécaniques Avancés (ISMANS), the engineering college where I’m employed as teacher and researcher. Consequently my crew is made up of students.”  

Christopher Pratt is sailing on DCNS 1000, skippered by Marc Thiercelin: “The Grand Prix Petit Navire has enabled us to express ourselves on a number of levels. For the first two days we concentrated on speed with the runs across the bay. That was very entertaining and, in addition to that we had a good result on the last day. Yesterday and today the onus has been on strategy and control during manoeuvres. We’ve been struggling a bit on the latter in relation to the others as we don’t know our boat so well. Today’s course was reminiscent of yesterdays, but longer. It’s going really well on the boat: we’ve been able to rub shoulders with people from many different backgrounds. It’s interesting to show them the boat and let them share the sensations we get from sailing”.  

Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia): “It’s already the third time I’ve been to the Grand Prix Petit Navire with Foncia. We’ve taken part in the event ever since we’ve had the boat. I’d already participated here in the Dragon class some years ago too. Since we began coming here we’ve been trying to share it with as many people as possible, not just confirmed sailors, but also the shore crew, friends and economic players. Yesterday was a bit drawn out. We sailed in light airs but we finished just a few minutes shy of six o’ clock, which was aperitif time so the timing was perfect. In the Class 40s though, some of them missed dessert! This Sunday is likely to be a little livelier on the water…”

Cheminées Poujoulat came into the bay of Morbihan in 40 to 45 knots of wind on Sunday night. Despite all the help awaiting his arrival, Bernard Stamm was unable to get onto the mooring that had been set up for him, even though he used the engine and had the help of a RIB and Dominique Wavre. The situation rapidly worsened and the IMOCA 60 was driven ashore. The skipper was rescued and is safe and well, but the bad weather and the fact that it was night prevent further operations. Translation Marian Martin. More:

Bernard Stamm is beginning a race against the clock to get Cheminées Poujoulat to an area where he will be able to try to repair her. At the Kerguelen Islands such a task is impossible, which is why Bernard is hoping to be able to embark the Imoca 60 footer on the Marion Dufresne, which is leaving Kerguelen tomorrow. Cheminées Poujoulat was refloated this morning by the crew of the Marion Dufresne and the TAAF after being driven onto the rocks last night. The boat was extracted from this zone and taking to the mooring. She is floating and the mast and keel are in place, however sadly she has been ripped open on the port side and is full of water. “She is floating albeit low in the water and heeled over.” explained Bernard at the start of the afternoon. “Everyone here has given me a hand and Dominique Wavre also helped me out a huge amount. If we manage to load Cheminées Poujoulat in time, I will also embark on the Marion Dufresne bound for Reunion or elsewhere. I don’t yet know what’s going to happen but there’s a lot of work ahead. The most pressing matter is to get the boat out of the water. It’s not possible to leave her in the water in Kerguelen. This Vendée Globe started off badly and has ended painfully, because there’s nothing worse than seeing your boat driven onto the shore.”