Anticipation is mounting for the yachts that tomorrow will battle for the 12th edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy, with a record number of 23 centenarians, out of the 24 racing the Voiles, that will be lining up just off Saint Tropez to fight in the only race dedicated to one hundred or more years old yachts, an event that has become a unique and unmissable rendez-vous for the old and beautiful classics.
Since its creation, the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy is raced under a Pursuit Race format with staggered starts, that has proved extremely attractive for the sailors and the public alike over the years. Thanks to an especially created and constantly refined handicap system, the competitors cross the starting line according to their handicap, with the first boat to cross the finish line in front of Saint Tropez to be declared the winner.
One of the aficionados of the Trophy is Esterel, the gaff-rigged 8M I.R (Sebille 1912), with a group of friends who already have five editions under their belts and show their usual positive approach, as one of them said: "We love the Centenary Trophy, the atmosphere is really good and it's where we get to see the most beautiful and authentic boats in the fleet. You know who's going to win because you know all your competitors, but the most important point is, in the words of Pierre de Coubertin, to take part. We're in it for the fun of it!”
This year also marks the return of three stunning 15M, Mariska (William Fife III 1908), The Lady Anne (William Fife III 1912) and the Yacht Club de Monaco’s flagship Tuiga (William Fife III 1909). Daniel Pereira, skipper of Tuiga said: "We're happy to be back in the regatta after several years' absence. It's a great format and I'm sure we have a great day of racing ahead, with a relaxed atmosphere and a lot of fun! Plus, for the Centenary Trophy tomorrow, Pierre Casiraghi will be at the helm of Tuiga." If Italian flagged Marconi yawl Barbara, designed in 1923 by Charles Ernest Nicholson and built at Camper & Nicholsons shipyard in Gosport, UK is a cruising family yacht, another newcomer to the Trophy has had a much more competitive history and was created for purely racing purposes. The 12M Thea, was in fact designed by the Norwegian sailor, double Olympic medallist and prolific architect Johan Anker in 1918. Built by the Anker & Jensen shipyard. “I have been invited in 2017 by the GYC to sail together with Bruno Trouble on the P Class Chips. It was one of the most memorable sailing events I took part to.” Says Robert Henry de Haer, Thea’s owners’ representative. “I have been sailing on Thea in Scandinavian waters for five years and I am delighted to participate to the Centenary Trophy. Thea is currently in the Med to train for the this year 12M European championship and next year World Cup in Porquerolles. The crew on Thea is made of a group of experienced Danish sailors some with Olympic experience. It’s an amazing sailing team, and I’m sure they will do their best to do well in the Trophy.”
This year, triple winner Olympian (William Gardner, 1913) will be racing to possibly establish and historic record of four wins having taken victory in 2014, 2019 and 2021, out of eight editions she participated to, as will last year’s winner Kismet (William Fife III 1898) for a back-to-back double.
Pierre Roinson, President of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez.declared: "This 2023 edition, marks an important year as far as numbers are concerned, as both Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez and the Gstaad Yacht Club celebrate their 25th anniversary. Based on an idea from the Gstaad Yacht Club, the Centenary Trophy, organised jointly with the Société Nautique de Saint Tropez race committee, brings together centenarian boats every year. Tomorrow's event promises to be another great regatta on the water.”
But before fighting on the water all the crews will have a very different and original competition tonight in Saint Tropez. They will all gather in the famous Place des Lices for watching a video at the La Renaissance Cinéma on a sustainability and education project on the Mediterranean promoted by Wiki’s (Herbert Wustrau 1920) owner Tom Woods, a Swiss-style aperitif and later for an unheard-of cow milking competition where two sailors from each participating crew will be put to the test in this unusual, but very Swiss indeed, activity…
The Trophy, handed over every year is also over centenarian, having been created by Wakely and Wheeler of London in 1911, that is exactly 100 years before the first edition of the regatta.
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