Thursday, March 27, 2008

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

What's it all about?
In 1981, two gentlemen settled an argument about who had the fastest boat by pointing to the furthest buoy from Saint-Tropez’s Club 55 and heading out to sea. This was how Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez was born. Since then, it has become one of the most glamorous and elegant spectacles in the modern yachting world.

Why go?
Why ever not? For one week, the lucky few will witness Saint-Tropez transform into the place that Brigitte Bardot and the crew from And God Created Woman discovered. The Indian summer of the Var region and the still warm Mediterranean provide a spectacular backdrop to the regatta, which will see a fleet of over 300 of the world's greatest classic and modern racing class yachts speed out across the bay. The town itself becomes a paradise since the summer hoards have all gone back up north. Your only company is 3,000 mad yachties who’ve come from all directions for one week of sailing, sun and a little sin.

Is it just about the sailing?
It’s about the good life and living it as beautifully and wickedly as possible. The time warp during the regatta is delicious. The Port of Saint-Tropez harbour fills up with some of the most spectacular boats and their nattily dressed crews who trawl the port’s bars, all dressed in matching team colors. An average day involves sailing all through the day or taking a motorboat out to watch the races. Long lunches roll into longer nights that start with all the sailors and mad Dutchmen at Hotel Le Sube Bar and continue on to L'Octave Piano Bar for a little bawdy cheek-to-cheek. Finally, you may well find yourself ending the night at the infamous Les Caves Du Roy in the basement of the Hotel Byblos. Start it all over again the next day.

What’s the crowd like?
Think old money and new, plus serious sailors and enthusiasts from all over the world. All in all, a much more consistently refined and eccentric crowd than the usual Saint-Tropez high season regulars.

What should I pack?
Wardrobe-wise, it’s St. Bart’s on low gear. Ladies, try Giuseppe Zanotti’s bejewelled flats and linen shift dresses. Throw in a few well-placed gold items. Men should get sailors drunk and steal their Facconable race button-down. Alternatively, buy a Voiles polo shirt from the race tent at the harbour and throw it over your Vilebrequins.

Evenings are about casual chic. The male dress code is a linen shirt and slacks over deck shoes. Ladies, just add some heels to the outfit you wore to lunch and slap on a dash of lipstick and you are ready for the night's adventures. Rent a Mini Moke from Locazur and take it all off again in the early morning at one of the beautiful and secluded beaches up past L'Escalet.

The Details:
Les Voiles de Saint Tropez (formerly ‘La Nioulargue’)
29 September to 7 October, 2007

— Christina Kew



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