Voiles de St. Tropez: How the French stir up the desire for sailing


How the French stir up the desire for sailing

Voiles de St. Tropez: How the French stir up the desire for sailing-desire

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The Magic Carpet with Jochen Schumann at Voiles de St. Tropez on the way to victory.


Voiles de St. Tropez: How the French stir up the desire for sailing-voiles

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Markus Wieser on the "Veronique" at the Voiles de St. Tropez. The ship he piloted in the regatta was completed in 1907.


Voiles de St. Tropez: How the French stir up the desire for sailing-tropez

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Former L’Oreal boss Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones (left) receives the award for his Magic Carpet from the BMW representative.


Voiles de St. Tropez: How the French stir up the desire for sailing-sailing

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The sails of the Wally yachts are of impressive size, and some of the ships were able to set the spinnaker on the downwind course.


Every October there is a regatta week in the south of France, where classics and maxi racers start. No season could end more enchantingly. And nothing stimulates the desire for spring anymore.

A.Saying goodbye is no problem at all, saying goodbye to the sailing summer. Outside the quay walls of St. Tropez, the “Amadour 1938” from Monaco, “The Blue Peter” from London and the “Partridge”, built in 1885, are swinging in the four meter high waves – the start has been postponed.

The troubled water is the result of the stormy night before. But now that the last planned vintage car regatta of the Voiles de Saint-Tropez should have started an hour ago, there is still only a breeze to feel. Too little to get the floating antiques moving.

Nevertheless, there is great serenity on the yachts themselves. The skippers cruise here and there at a snail’s pace, but only those get excited when the moving water gives them a slightly greenish complexion.

The “Voiles” is one of the highlights of the season in St. Tropez. Actually, at the beginning of October one can no longer speak of a season, but when the millions of euro yachts dock in the prominent fishing village, it is busy for the last time. On the streets, cars are parked more than driven, and it is no different in front of the “Blauer Peter” and the “Partridge” when they are anchored in the evening.

Old trinkets in the harbor

If you look at the yachts, you can’t just stroll on. Impossible. Here you can see lived sailing history from the end of the 19th century to the present. Both old gems and modern large yachts are mostly sailed by the world’s best sailors. For example the outrageously expensive Wallys, which are already a little further out on their own regatta course.

At the end of the season, St. Tropez is almost as if the top sailors had made an appointment here to be able to enjoy the last warming rays of sun of the year together after the exertions of the past few months.

Andrew Tayler has come, who has won the America’s Cup four times, Hamish Pepper, 2006 world champion in the star boat and of course an America’s Cupper like around 20 other sailors. Jochen Schumann is of course also there and other German celebrities such as Thomas Bscher, Matti Paschen and Markus Wieser, world champion in various classes, kite specialist, and currently the most prominent German sailor alongside Schumann.

Wieser steered the "Veronique" and cursed quietly late in the evening after the last race that was finally started.

Classic cars are turning slowly

"His" old boat, which came out on the water in 1907, is the slowest boat he has ever been on the water. “When we have sailed a turn, the classic car has almost stopped. There’s no such thing, "he says.

Of course, Wieser is not really angry. His curses in Bavarian are always accompanied by a fine smile. “Classic and modern yachts sail here, which makes the regatta in St. Tropez something very special. From a sporting point of view, what happens here is not decisive for me, ”says Wieser.

His sponsor BMW sent him to the boats, so to speak, as a link between the clean future models i3 and i8 exhibited in the port. But of course Wieser is also proud to be there, to be the center of curiosity, because the whole thing is of course a millionaire game in front of a large audience.

Yachts million game

As the owner of an Uralty yacht, a J-Class replica or a Wally, you don’t have to talk about money. A few million in the account are not enough to buy and maintain such ships. Anyone who competes in the south of France can also afford the right staff.

The owner of the "Veronique" is Hans Albrecht from Munich. He is a typical old-timer fan, obsessed with the love of old precious wood ships, of which he also owns three.

Wieser is also obsessed, not with old ships, but with sporty kite sailing, the supreme discipline in this sport. And since you cannot sail in contact with the museum pieces because the damage would be too great in the event of a collision, he spends the week like a sailing tourist.

Contact with the owner came about through the children of the two families: They attended the international school in Starnberg, and at some point the sailors Albrecht and Wieser ran into each other. This has since become a partnership.

Sir Lindsay and his leisure program

Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones is also a lover of expensive ships, head of L’Oreal until 2011 and knighted by the Queen in 2005. In France he is the commander of the Legion of Honor. Sir Lindsay combines glamor and prosperity in perfect harmony, is not only a sailor, but is also a passionate driver of sports cars.

At Le Mans he took part in the 24-hour race a few times, once with Thomas Bscher, the former Bugatti boss and fellow sailor. You just know each other.

The “Magic Carpet” with sails that provide as much shade as a high-rise building is the third Wally that Sir Lindsay has purchased. This year the “Magic Carpet” was launched, in St. Tropez it is the most modern Wally, recognizable from afar by the high, snow-white mast.

In the case of the Wallys, the owners have to steer, the professional staff with the Olympic gold medals have to keep an advisory role in the background. Long after the “Magic Carpet” moored in the marina of St. Tropez after the last race, only the second-placed Wally approaches her anchorage in the neighborhood.

Sir Lindsay will receive the prize the next day, who else? His yacht is technically the best and fastest. And most expensive. He made a false start, which usually leads to disqualification. But with the "Voiles" a lot is different than usual. There was only one time penalty for the "Magic Carpet" that did not call into question its victory. The lead over the other yachts was just too big.

You can’t beat “Magic Carpet”

Sir Lindsay was advised on the course by the "very difficult area" by: Jochen Schumann. Naturally. Because the best sailor is exactly the right person for the best boat. The three-time Olympic champion did not find out about the “Magic Carpet” victory until a few days later, at home in Germany.

He was no longer in France for the award ceremony. The professionals are responsible for sailing and the owners for receiving the prizes. In the middle of the past week, Schumann is about to leave for his next two regattas with the so far unbeaten "Esimit".

For most of the others, the season is over. You will carry the impressions of the Voiles de Saint-Tropez with you for a long time. They will stir up the longing for the coming season.

Some yachts are ordered to the Caribbean by their owners, others such as the "Veronique" come to winter storage on Mallorca. Schumann, however, will still be sailing in Trieste and at the Middle Sea Race off Malta, where around 2000 ships cavort at the start line. He’ll win twice unless he capsizes. Saying goodbye to the season can be so easy.

The trip to Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez was supported by BMW. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at www.axelspringer.de/unabhaengigkeit

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