Les Voiles - Day 1 Velsheda breaks Hanuman’s run of wins

published 10/01/2013

A sunny start to Les Voiles de St Tropez and a warm welcome to Shamrock V, Hanuman, Velsheda and Lionheart, this weeks contenders for the fourth and final head to head for 2013.
Rainbow is not part of the lineup due to her participation in the Monaco Yacht Show and the small logistical challenge to go from Show mode to Race mode in a day. Nor will we see the mighty Ranger.

Velsheda will be keen to continue her success from the Rolex Maxis in Porto Cervo but with Hanuman back in the mix, this week’s Rolex prize is fair game.

As Barney Henshaw-Depledge, Velsheda’s Captain summed up, “Hanuman is tough competition, she is ‘so on the money’ with well drilled crew and some interesting innovations being made to her rig, she is hard to beat right now.”

The first race was mainly a windward leeward course with an additional mark, both the start and finish off Pampelone Beach; conditions were light and shifty as the sea breeze fought to come through past an offshore mistral. The Race Committee started the J’s on time.

“The start has to be given to Hanuman,” described Mike Mottle the mainsail trimmer aboard Lionheart, “she rounded the first windward mark ahead – but not by much, only 2 boat lengths in front of Velsheda who led by 3 boat lengths to Lionheart.” Hanuman were able to maintain their lead and at the rounding Velsheda tacked away early and made good on a right wind shift. Hanuman were forced to stand on, tracking away from the coast “there was not much we could do, we knew the shift was coming but an early tack would have put us in the dirty air of a Wally on our same course.”

The leg was a long fetch of approximately 4 miles, taking nearly half an hour. Velsheda took advantage of the outer edge of the shift and took the next mark ahead of Hanuman.
Coming back to the gate there was a slight confusion, namely as the Race Committee moved the marks to setup for the Wally Class’ second race.

This did not detract from the fantastically close finish on the very short last leg, Velsheda rounded the bottom mark ahead and tacked, Hanuman followed and hardened up to lay the line before tacking to take line honours by seconds.

This is a win on corrected time for Velsheda, breaking Hanuman’s run of firsts this year from the St Barth’s Bucket through to the Superyacht Cup in Palma.

Tuesday’s conditions are anticipated to be light, so there may well be a postponement on the dock.