Tick-tock, tick-tock… There is now less than a month to go until the 8th edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth kicks off. To date, no fewer than 63 crews have signed up for the event, which augurs well for an exceptional vintage, given extra body by the fact that Lionel Péan, the only French sailor together with Franck Cammas, to have won the famous Volvo Ocean Race (ex Whitbread Round the World), has agreed to be the official patron of the race. Added to this, the event poster is a work by none other than Kongo, the famous street artist. In short, with just four weeks to go, the event is shaping up to be absolutely sensational!
Lionel Péan, official patron of the 8th edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth
Following on from Loïck Peyron in 2015, then Ken Read in 2016, another very great sailor has been chosen by the organisers to be the official patron of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth in 2017. Indeed, it's Lionel Péan who will be casting an expert eye over the event this April. A seasoned and talented sailor, the latter certainly boasts one of the most prestigious track records in French sailing, with the highlights including his victories in the Solitaire du Figaro in 1983, then the Whitbread Round the World Race (crewed round the world race with stopovers) in 1986, a World Champion title in the 12 JI in 2001, a string of records (North Atlantic in crewed configuration on Mari Cha III in 1998 then the Tour de la Corse in 2014) as well as podium places in the major international races, including the Sydney – Hobart (3rd in 1993 and 2nd in 1994) as well as the Route du Rhum (3rd in 1986). “To be patron of this edition of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth is a wonderful honour for me”, Lionel Péan admits, reminiscing about the history of friendship that binds him to the organisers of the race and already stretches back some twenty years or more.
“When Luc Poupon and François Tolède began to think about and then dream up Les Voiles de Saint-Barth, I was among those who said to them: “Really go for it guys!” They had all the necessary ingredients to make this a great event and they've pulled it off. I'm happy to see what they've managed to create and delighted to have the chance to take part”, explains the Mediterranean sailor, who competed in the first two editions in 2010 and 2011, aboard Sojana, alongside Sir Peter Harrison, then again at the helm of SFS, ex VOR 70 Green Dragon, in the Maxi 2 category last year. In fact, he'll be racing in this class again from 10 to 15 April. “A great many VOR 60s and VOR 70s will be competing this year. It's going to be really nice to rediscover so many collector boats on the same start line. These oceanic yachts have coloured the history of crewed round the world races and it will add a little something special to what is already a top-quality line-up at Les Voiles”, says Lionel Péan assuredly. He will head to Gustavia on 7 April for his first on-location training sessions.
2017 poster: the work of street artist Cyril Kongo
With the organisers choosing a renowned patron for this 2017 vintage of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth, it was only natural to extend this star quality to the event poster. As such, it has been designed by none other than the street artist Cyril Kongo, who decorated a boat's sail at last year's event. Making a guest appearance in 2016, the self-taught painter, who has really made a name for himself over recent years in the world of art and culture, collaborating with a series of prestigious companies such as the French glassworks Daum and more recently Richard Mille, main partner to Les Voiles de Saint-Barth, revealed the true extent of his talent during a performance in the race village. Dynamism, an eye for composition and an exuberant colour palette all give Kongo his unique edge! The letters that make up Les Voiles de Saint-Barth fit together and become a form in their own right. “Through my family and my entourage, I have strong links to the sea and to the Caribbean.
The insularity brings calm, pause and serenity. In St. Barthélemy during Les Voiles de St Barth, I've rediscovered the balance I feel in the West Indies and that I need to recharge my batteries. Far from the city walls and the agitation through which my painting is expressed, I feel particularly inspired. All white and gigantic, the sails of these boats on the water appear to me like so many big walls or blank canvasses, which have slipped through my fingers and scoff at me. I was immediately struck by the fact that I needed to find a way to paint them, to bring my colour and my expression to them so as to mix up this immaculate universe”, explains Kongo, whose actual name is Cyril Phan. “The organising team at Les Voiles de St Barth found a solution, laying their hands on an old, vintage sail, that had remained unused from a previous edition. I grasped it like any other medium. I didn't encounter any particular difficulties other than the fact that it was more porous than canvas, making the flat tint of the paint a little faded, more pastel: it's interesting.
Suddenly, even after the event, you can track how the work is filled in as the strokes and movements of the spray on the sail take on an aged look. In so doing, it's as if, by illustrating it with my graphic vocabulary, simply writing “Les Voiles de St Barth” on it, I had breathed new life into it. It's very moving. The poster for the 2017 edition recaptures the canvas on a white background, with typography forming the title. It really respects my work and I'm very proud of it”, comments the artist, who is as talented as he is heterogeneous. It's sure to be enjoyed by fine connoisseurs and others!
© COPYRIGHT 2011-2017 - NAUTICA REPORT - REGISTRAZIONE TRIBUNALE DI ROMA N.314 DEL 27-12-2013 - WAVE PROMOTION SRLS - P.IVA e C.F.12411241008