The imposing schooner Shenandoah of Sark - Photo © Juerg Kaufmann / GYC
Gstaad Yacht Club's Centenary Trophy welcomes rookies and aficionados
There will be new entrants as well as well-experienced crews and boats lining up for the 11th edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy on 29th September, at the Voiles de Saint Tropez.
Back in 2011 the Gstaad Yacht Club launched a regatta, unique in its genre, reserved to boats that are one hundred or more years old, and over the years, the Centenary Trophy has grown and got a familiar "rendez-vous" at the Voiles de Saint Tropez.
"The Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy is one of the highlights of the Voiles de Saint-Tropez Challenge Day. It was the famous Swiss Club that launched the original idea, more than 10 years ago, of organising the very first regatta reserved for boats over a hundred years old during the "Dèfi" day on Thursday, and it is with great pleasure that the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez has put its teams to work. This event also allows us to see boats that are usually in different categories because of their size or their rigs sailing together, but the format of the event - the pursuit race - gives everyone a chance and allows us to know the winner as soon as they cross the finish line." declared Pierre Roinson, president of the Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, who also reminded that 2022 will also mark another important anniversary for the club as this year the Société Nautique is celebrating its 160th birthday.
The Centenary Trophy is raced in a pursuit format with staggered starts, that has proved extremely attractive for the sailors and the public alike over the years, using an especially created and constantly refined handicap system, allowing very different boats in size and rig to compete on equal terms.
After a most successful 10th anniversary edition in 2021, the regatta is back this year with the usual mix of aficionados and new entrants, Madcap is the oldest boat in the fleet this year, despite being a rookie to the event. She's the most senior and only original surviving example of pilot cutter, built by Davis & Plain in Cardiff, in 1874. Another newbie to the race is Shenandoah of Sark, the imposing three-masted schooner that with her 55 metres is the biggest yacht of the fleet. Shenandoah of Sark was designed by American Theodore Ferris and launched in 1902. Her story is very interesting, having been seized twice - once during WW I by the British Navy and again in the 60's by the French customs- and being owned by British and Italian aristocrats, as well as by famous Baron Marcel Bich. Her current interiors were designed by Italian archistar Gae Aulenti and even feature a baby grand piano!
Kismet (1898) and Sumurun (1914) are the two centenarians built by William Fife & Son that will race their third edition."The Centenary Trophy is a great concept. I'm looking forward to taking part again this year, it will be my fourth time. The organisation is great, the reception was also perfect last year. All the conditions are there, thanks to the Gsaad Yacht Club, to make it a very nice event." explained Alain Moatti, owner of Sumurun.
On the starting line just off Saint Tropez, there will also be two boats that have participated seven times to the regatta and will score a record eight time: the gaff ketch Veronique (1907) and 2021 winner Olympian (1913), one of the three P-Class gaff cutters that race regularly in the Med.
The Centenarian Award
The Centenarian of the Year Award, organised by Classic Boat magazine and the Gstaad Yacht Club, was launched in 2017. Any boat of 100 years or more, which is still sailed in a largely authentic way, is eligible. The independent panel of judges considers any kind of sail boat, including cruising boats, race yachts and former work boats. Each boat should have achieved something significant in the past year, be it a long cruise, a race win, a major restoration or something else noteworthy. The winner is announced at the annual Classic Boat Awards, held at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in London and awarded with a Sterling Silver Cup, sponsored by Robbe & Berking Silver manufacturer.
The 2022 winner is Firefly, a gaff yawl dated from 1922, designed by Albert Strange (#119) and later modified by Harrison Butler to a Yawl Rig with her draught reduced for use on the Norfolk Broads (U.K.) as per the wish of her first owner, Robert Lamb. She was originally built as an auxiliary sloop in a way to cope with being beached in mudflats of estuaries. Firefly is owned by the Clay Family since 1934, passing her from one generation to the following, a rare example of long-term ownership.