Les Voiles de Saint Tropez marks the last event on the Mediterranean racing calendar and is heralded as one of the most prestigious regattas in the world. In its 24th year, the regatta will take place across two weeks from September 24 to October 8, with the first welcoming all classic yachts and modern boats up to 18 metres in length, before the Maxis take to the water in week two. As the competition gets underway, we a look at the line-up of classic schooners and wooden yawls getting ready to race...
Shenandoah of Sark
Builder: Townsend & Downey
Shenandoah of Sark has welcomed high-profile aristocrats, Hollywood heavyweights and even royalty on board since her launch in 1902, which makes her one of the oldest superyachts still sailing today. She was built as a triple-masted wooden schooner with a 13 metre bowsprit and she flies 2,646 square metres of sail. While she is a born racer, Shenandoah of Sark has enjoyed more leisurely cruising over the years, and has circumnavigated as far as Norway, Madagascar and the remote shores of South Georgia. A crew of 12 operates her day-to-day, but in race mode she can be manned by as many as 30 crew.
Elena is a replica of a 1910 sailing yacht by the same name and her design pays tribute to the golden age of sail. The original Elena was designed by Nat Herreshoff to win the 1928 Transatlantic Race where she sailed from New York to Santander in record time. She has been built with racing bones and her crew has collected plenty of silverware since her launch - Elena has won Antigua Classic Week, Les Voiles de St Tropez and Monaco Classic Week. Elena is currently for sale.
Cambria was commissioned by newspaper magnate Sir William Berry and delivered in 1928. After enjoying fifty years on the racing circuit she eventually fell off the radar. She was assumed to have been destroyed, like many sailing yachts of her time, in the Second World War but was rediscovered in Australia in the 1990's and restored to her former glory. After her rebuild, there was no doubt now that Cambria once again fulfils Fife’s basic requirement of a yacht – that she be both “fast and bonnie”.
Built in 2013, Naema is a beautiful example of a modern classic designed by Olivier F. van Meer and based upon by an Alfred Mylne schooner named Panda that sank in 1983 after a fire ravaged her to her waterline. Naema was built at Graafship in Turkey and underwent a significant refit in 2014 which saw her plumbing, engines and technical equipment removed and replaced. She is a regatta regular having competed at The Superyacht Cup, The Candy Store Cup and the Inaugural Capri Classica.
Iduna is a rare example of a classic Feadship sailing yacht. She was delivered in 1939 and remained the largest yacht to leave the Dutch shipyard until 1960. She has been refitted several times throughout her life including one that saw her rig changed from a gaff ketch to a Bermudan ketch. Most notably, she underwent a full restoration in 1999 led by Dutchman Johan van den Bruele. He was determined to preserve as much of the original vessel as possible, including the main mast, skylights, deck saloon, compass, anchor winch and steering wheel. Any new parts that were required were built using traditional boatbuilding methods to stay true to her original build. Iduna is currently for sale.
Puritan is one of the most notable schooners ever built and her history is well-documented. Since her construction in 1930, she has served active duty in the US Navy during World War Two, sailed between Nova Scotia and Cape Horn and even acted as a research vessel for the American Museum of Natural History on which a new mollusc was discovered and named Puritanina harribaueri in tribute. Puritan is a gaff-rigged schooner designed by legendary American designer John Alden. She has had a number of owners throughout her life and has been refitted several times (and even saved from the scrap heap on one occasion). She went on to become a regatta regular on the Mediterranean circuit.
Sumurun was commissioned in 1914 by a baroness as a gift to her husband and is one of the oldest competing yachts in this year's Les Voiles de Saint Tropez. She was built using teak and oak by Scottish shipyard Fife and hailed as one of the swiftest and most beautiful yachts afloat. Sumurun’s story is filled with vivid personalities, a multitude of racing victories including the overall win at Antigua Classics Week in 2013, and an elegance that has transcended the vagaries of over a century on the water.
Hallowe'en was launched in 1926 as a Bermudan cutter, which was uncommon in the days when gaff-rigged racers dominated the various regattas. Her owners continued to experiment with her rig and eventually, she was transformed to a yawl. Hallowe'en spent many years racing the Mediterranean and the Atlantic before falling off the radar. She was later discovered by Walter Wheeler and renamed Cotton Blosson IV before continuing her history of ocean racing and eventually being donated to the Classic Boat Museum in Rhode Island where she awaited a much-needed refit. After five years of work in Newport, funds dried up and Hallowe’en was facing the scrap heap when Elizabeth Meyer, the woman behind the restoration of J Class Endeavour helped find a buyer to restore her to her former glory.
Aschanti IV is a staysail schooner built in 1954 as Aschanti of Saba. She is a veteran of the world's classic yacht regattas and has won on many occasions including an overall win in the 2022 Antigua Classics Regatta. A thorough refit by Lürssen in 1994 saw the installation of up-to-date technology including hydraulic winches and two 36.5 metre spruce masts. What started as an upgrade swiftly became a full rebuild as every attempt was made to reconstruct the boat using traditional boat-building techniques. This included riveting her original steel plates back in place.
Mariella was built at the Fife shipyard in 1938 to a design by Alfred Mylne and delivered as a Bermudan yawl. Her mainmast stands 28 metres tall and she flies 279 square metres of sail. She has been owned for many years by Carlo Falcone, proprietor of the Antigua Yacht Club Marina, and has raced in many classic regattas on both sides of the Atlantic over the last 75 years. She is a regular competitor at the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and this year, at Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, she is joined by her fellow Fife builds Hallowe'en, Cambria and Sumurun.