Monthly Archives: October 2012

1st – Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez!

There is nothing like a competition in home waters to raise the stakes – and home, for Skylark, is the translucent waters surrounding the elegant French town of Saint-Tropez. In 2011, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez (formally known as La Nioulargue) was Skylark’s inaugural regatta. One long summer, thousands of sea miles via Croatia and four regattas later, Skylark returned to her home port to face stiff competition from yachts racing all around the 2012 Mediterranean circuit. “Les Voiles”, as it is affectionately known, is the season finale – the Big One!

Skylark’s strategy going into the event was to play the long game – be conservative, be consistent, avoid poor results. In effect, this meant staying to the rhumb line between marks which in the light breeze Skylark did effectively. Her final score over four races of 1-2-2-1 was testament to great preparation, hard work and consistency.

On the final day, it was clear that Skylark could win her class convincingly, provided Mercury did not win the last race. Skylark sailed supremely to win the last day by eight minutes on corrected time – helped in part by both Stormy Weather and Mercury being judged over the startline by the Race Committee (OCS) and given a 10% time penalty.

Across all classes, there is nominated an overall winner. Both Skylark and Avel, the yacht owned by the Gucci family, were tied on 6 points after 4 races. This led to a count back as to who had the most 1st places – as Avel was also 2-1-2-1 both yachts had two firsts so were still tied equally. The last recourse open to the organisers (before literally tossing a coin) was to count who had their firsts last – both yachts won the last day, both yachts were 2nd Day 3 – it was only when the committee saw the 1st by Avel Day 2 and a 2nd by Skylark that they decided The Rolex Trophy and engraved Submariner watch in steel should be awarded to Avel.

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Skylark wins the Blue Bird Cup 2012

The Blue Bird Cup was offered in 2011 by Skylark’s owner, Tara Getty, to the winner of a race between Skylark and a yacht she chooses to challenge in a head-to-head sailing competition. The Cup, originally made by Garrads of London and presented in Geneva in 1938 to Sir Malcolm Campbell by the United Nations for his Land Speed Record of that year, is now engraved on its base for “Speed Under Sail”. In 2011, Skylark challenged Argyll, a larger S&S yawl, owned by TV actor and keen sailor Griff Rhys Jones. Argyll won the first event which was two short circuits of a course in the bay of Saint-Tropez.

In 2012, Skylark again challenged Argyll in what she considered “unfinished business”. The course was agreed between both yachts – a start between Blue Bird and her tender to a windward mark (the 80m superyacht Talitha) round twice. An exciting start to the race saw both boats approaching the pin end on port. Skylark appeared to try and sail between Argyll and the mark but, at the last moment, dipped Argyll’s stern and powered beneath her to take a commanding position to leeward. Skylark then covered Argyll in the building breeze and extended to a handsome lead by the finish.

Both crews then lunched aboard Talitha where Griff Rhys Jones presented the Cup to 2012 winners Tara & Jessica Getty.

Regates Royales 2012 – 2nd Overall

Storms, hail, sun and calm confronted a fleet of over 100 classic yachts racing in the famous Regates Royales in Cannes Sept 26th-30th 2012. Whilst there were not cancellations, the fleet combated just about everything nature could throw at it. On Day 2, the race started in 12 knots of wind from the east, and within minutes the sky had blackened and rain lashed the fleet with such force that it reduced visibility to less than a boat length. The rain began to fill cockpits to 10cm where it cascaded from the mainsail and binoculars and iPads in housings could be seen floating from one side of the cockpit to another. As quickly as it had started, the rain cleared to leave bright sunshine and zero wind. The soaked crews drifted for over an hour with less than one knot of breeze.

Skylark’s strategy was to work the southern edge of the fleet waiting for the SW sea breeze to build. Eventually, an unpredictable wind filled in from the north west which gave Skylark a spinnaker reach to the next mark, where others tried, with difficulty, to sail more downwind.

On the final leg to the finish, the wind again died and Skylark repeatedly tried to tack offshore in search of the SW sea breeze for which she had waited all day. After 20 or more tacks in drifting conditions, the crew sighted the wind they had waited for. Within minutes, Skylark was reaching at 8 knots under spinnaker towards the finish, whilst her competitors watched becalmed to leeward. Despite some great performances, Skylark was unable to match the lighter faster Leonore, steered by America’s Cup helmsman Mauro Pellaschier and crewed by a number of his talented friends.