54! That’s the number of pre-registered participants two months before the starting gun for the 8th edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth. What’s the story, and who are the newcomers, and the regulars?
This is the year of the VOR if there ever was one. This class of sailboats, used for competing in the Volvo Ocean Race is well represented by eightboats: four Volvo 70s and four Volvo 60s. Among the newcomers, a first-timer is the VOR 70 Monster Project. Formerly known as Kostaka, this Russian boat participated in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2008-2009.
In January 2013, it was purchased by Andrew Budgen and Fred Schywn of the “Project 1 Racing Team” and completely redesigned. It has since participated in numerous regattas in France and the Caribbean, with a busy schedule for the first part of 2017: the RORC 600, the Heineken Regatta, Les Voiles de St. Barth, and Antigua Sailing Week.
Another newcomer, Trifork L/4, has Danish sailor Jens Dolmer at the helm. A former member of Team Brunel, Dolmer sailed in the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race, and also took part in an America’s Cup campaign and has a victory in the Maxi World Championships. In the same class, competitors include the Volvo 70, Warrior (formerly Camper-New Zealand) with the American skipper Stephen Murray, and the VOR 70, SFS, with Frenchman Lionel Péan at the helm.
In the VOR 60 class, look for the return of the Lithuanians aboard Ambersail and a few newcomers from England with VOR 60 Challenger and from Canada with Esprit de Corps II and IV.
The list of competitors also marks the return of Lloyd Thornburg, who will race this year for the first time on his 40’ Carkeek, Fomo, instead of hisfamous multihull Phaedo3. Regulars at Les Voiles who will be back include Ben Jelic’s J-Aguar and Wild Devil from Saint Martin, the Melges 24 GFA Caraibes owned by Nicolas Gillet from Martinique, the Grand Soleil Quokka 8 and the Beneteau EHO1, respectively skippered by Englishmen Christian Reynolds and Andy Middleton.