MUSIC, a South African Swan 53 owned and skippered by James Blakemore and crewed by young South African sailors beat stiff competition to take the Spinnaker 1 class at Les Voiles de Saint Barth regatta on Sunday 14 April.
Sunday’s conditions suited the heavier Swan, which saw them post a 3-2-1-1-1 overall and landing them the top spot ahead of Defiance (USA). Patrick Demarchelier’s Puffy, with Marc Guillemot, offshore solo sailing star guest helming, reveled in the breeze posting a third.
“The whole crew is based in Cape Town, although I live in Johannesburg now, but am from Cape Town originally” Explains Blakemore, “my boat captain, Jerry Hedgie, won the Cape to Rio two years ago and looks after the navigation and tactics side of the racing. Mike Giles, who cut his sailing teeth along the Redhouse River in Port Elizabeth, was in the America’s Cup programme a few years ago for Shozoloza and he is the crew boss. Then we have two young crew members who sailed for South Africa in the recent Junior America’s Cup in San Francisco; Matthew Whitehead and Dave Shilton. They are on the crew and from Cape Town too. Then we have two other guys from Cape Town who are regulars on the local sailing scene and have come to race with me on Music last season on the Voiles in Saint Tropez as well as the Rolex Swan Cup in Sardinia.
This is our first foray into the Caribbean and were just going to do two events, the Heineken Cup, which we won and then we came second on the Rolex Swan in Sardinia so decided to do one more regatta. We had heard a lot about Saint Barth and knew that it was a fabulous place to sail in. I managed to get all the crew to stay on for the regatta and here we are. We are doing ok, just a few seconds behind the leaders and we have some good wind out there so lets just see what happens today.
The courses are really fabulous and the wind great. There is some really good downwind legs and a lot of weather stuff with a big swell. You really have to keep on your toes going into the swell to keep up the boat speed, so the helming plays a big part. Technically I think we have sailed well around the course. We have not had any mishaps and the crew is very accomplished.
The water is fantastic, the weather is great and it keeps the boat going, which is all we want. We took the crew to Nikki Beach on the lay day, which was lots of fun. It is a really great island, this is really a great spot. There is a similar feeling to Saint Tropez, well just round the corner, Port Grimaud, where we keep the boat.”
The Spinnaker 1 Class, Music Swan 52 skippered and owned by James Blakemore from South Africa crew: Gerry Hegie, Mike Giles, Michael Robb, Matt Whitehead, Dave Shilton, Daniel Botha, Vivian Arcoll and Robert Parker.
After winning Spinnaker 1 Class of the 2013 Edition of Les Voiles de Saint Barth James Blakemore said; “My strategy going out today started with having a good crew! The choices the guys made meant we were going to fly and we took a really good start, which we worked on hard this morning. We sailed a really good race, technically well, mechanically well and had no mishaps, the crew worked hard at that. One of the successes we had was to go round the course without any major mishaps, no big wraps and so we sailed the course well, the crew helmed well. A really good all round performance.
“Good conditions for us today were much better because we are a heavy boat and we prefer the stronger conditions. We powered up really well and had a had a good downwind run, 9 to 12 knots.
“The course suited us and we tried our code 0 on the fetch reach, which worked well. This was a regatta we did not plan originally to attend and I am very grateful the crew stayed on and this win a big cherry on the top.”
Crew boss Michael Giles; “Being able to have these longer reaching legs meant we were able to pull back a bit of time on the leaders. It does fire the guys up when you know you have good competition and you have to chase every second on the course, motivated the guys to do really well.”