It has been several years, delayed by the plague, but the Maxi yacht race is coming to the Caribbean, adding to the race opportunities that sailors have to chase their beautiful behemoths that can reach a height of 100 meters.
The Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, which kicks off on Sunday, will take part in the IMA Caribbean Maxi Challenge, four events designed to increase Maxis’ participation in regattas and attract more Maxis to the Caribbean region.
“The sailors are very happy because this increases the standards and quality, as well as the number of boats that can travel,” said Benoît de Froidmont, president of the International Maxi Association. “Now we will have the basics and the right education.”
And the more opportunities they have to run their boats, the more expensive they are to maintain and cost $ 10 million – the owners want to get as much out of their boats as possible. “The biggest sin is letting these boats stay,” said Ken Keefe, a former American’s Cupy captain who sails and sails on Vesper, Maxi 72.
After a two-year hiatus from many registers around the world due to the epidemic, sailors are excited about the new series, Keefe said. But many are also exercising self-control as a result of Covid’s war in Ukraine.
“Everyone is still a little nervous coming out of Covid,” he said. “We are all counting our blessings, but we are very safe this year – we will not be dancing at the table. But the whole point is: Let’s start at sea, let’s start the band again.
Based on the Maxi Mediterranean arena competitions, Caribbean challenges call for Maxis over 60 in height to compete from February to May in the Caribbean 600 in Antigua, St. Petersburg. Maarten Heineken Regatta, The Voiles de St. Barth, also at Antigua Sailing Week. .
To qualify for the event, sailors have to compete in two events, although this can be increased to three once the region is well established, says James Boyd, IMA spokesman. Teams competing in more than two events may lose their worst effects.
Technically, the addition of the Caribbean Maxi Challenge adds to the Maxi events approved by the IMA, but not all Maxi sailors are planning to sail on all four Caribbean oceans. Most just walk two or three and succeed in doing well, de Froidmont said.
Keefe, who oversees Vesper’s fleet, which includes boat transport around the world, said it would be possible to do all four of the Caribbean regattas and participate in the Mediterranean.
“It would be better to move the boats and move to better places and do better,” Keefe said. “The trick is to remove the boat from the Caribbean list as soon as possible to avoid a hurricane.”
The first stop of the series was the Caribbean 600 in Antigua. Comanche, a 100-foot Verdier model, won the regatta, followed by VO65 Sailing Poland and VO70 I Love Poland.
Conditions were difficult. A sailor told the IMA website that the race was one of the hardest in the world.
“It’s like a heavyweight boxing game – left and right you just come to you and you wait for boxing,” said Richard Clarke, a Warrior Won expert. “There is no guide that is safe until the end.”
Russia’s Comanche, a recent Atlantic winner and well-known runner, has dropped out of the Caribbean Maxi Challenge after the World Sailing governing body barred Russia from participating in the Ukraine war. Skorpios, the ClubSwan 125 Maxi yacht, also departed from similar conditions.
“There is information on what is happening in Ukraine,” Keefe said. “The Russians have affected our game in a strange way.”
Second stop, St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, which took place in early March, was a four-day run. Sailing Poland took first, Janssen de Jong-DutchSail second and I Love Poland third.
The third stop is Les Voiles de St. Barth, and the fourth and final is the Antigua Sailing Week, which begins on April 30th.
Winners of the Maxi competition only receive a trophy and the right to boast. “It’s still an old game,” de Froidmont said. “There are no prize money, very passionate people who enjoy it.”
The number of Maxis competitors has increased over the past few years, he said, and they should rise.
Boyd, an IMA spokesman, said it could take several years to build the deep Caribbean Maxi Challenge.
“This is the first year,” he said, “so we think it will take a few years for this to happen properly. However, we are happy with the size of Maxi’s population.
“Maxi’s participation in Les Voiles de St. Barth is also seen as strong with IMA members taking part from all over the Atlantic,” Boyd added. Twelve Maxis are preparing for the race.
He is currently leading the series with VO70 I Love Poland ahead of the Farr 100 Leopard 3.
“But there is no more competition in St. Barth, so it is likely that we will see new teams progress after St Barth and Antigua,” Boyd said.
“We have an amazing competition this year,” said Keefe, winner of Voiles de St. Barth four. “I can’t wait.”