Carlo Borlenghi /

Early break for Ranger

Racing gets underway at Les Voiles de St Tropez

Monday September 29th 2014, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: France

Ranger's crew all but eliminated on-board errors, kept its work tight and focused, and made a couple of smart tactical calls to comfortably win the 28 miles coastal race which opened Les Voiles de Saint Tropez today for the J-Class.

To be fair, Ranger was gifted an early advantage when both Velsheda and Lionheart were recalled at the start when they were judged to have jumped the gun. Turning back to restart, both immediately lost time to Ranger which had been more conservative on the first start of the week. After a short windward leg in a lumpy, choppy swell which placed big stresses and strains of the J-Class yachts,

Ranger was already nearly one and a half minutes clear of the chasing duo. And from that point onwards there was never really any opportunities for a comeback. 

A delay while the 18-20 knot breeze settled in direction meant the breeze also diminished slightly and Ranger, on its J2 headsail, was nicely powered up for the first short beat. Its solid lead at the windward turn meant it was not too compromised when it had to sail all of the nine mile reach and run with no spinnaker pole after it was damaged when it was being set at the windward mark.

Ranger's crew chose a heavier kite for this leg while both Lionheart and then Velsheda both ripped their spinnakers in the blustery conditions.

The familiar westwards course, down to a leeward turning mark off Cavalaire sur Mer passing beautiful rocky Cap Taillat and the secluded sandy beaches either side, meant a declining breeze as the leaders sailed deeper into the bay, but on the corresponding upwind leg back out any gains to the chasing pack were redressed as Ranger punched back out into the slightly stronger breeze first, and Ranger’s tactician Murray Jones called a couple of favourable shifts, closer to the point and the gains for the leaders were conclusive. 

Velsheda came back at Lionheart a little, but the black hulled winner of all three regattas so far this season held on to second with Velsheda third and Shamrock behind them in fourth. 

Ranger’s skipper Erle Williams recalled: “It was good day for us, but it really was pretty challenging for everyone with these big swells that came in. There were big loads on the Js so it was pretty hard to get off the line for example. The other two were both over and we were about five seconds back so we were good. That was good. You don’t want to be right to the line early like that. But then we broke the end of the spinnaker pole and had to sail the whole race with no spinnaker pole. It just broke through high loading. We went with the heavier spinnaker down the first reach and that was a good call. They closed to us a little on the run but we did a nice mark rounding. Murray Jones did a nice job working the shifts, in phase, and were in a good groove throughout.

“We had the number 2 jib on at the start and with the breeze having died away a little because of the postponements that worked in our favour even if we were pretty powered up at times.

“We got a break and just had to make sure we then got around the track safely. We could take a little bit easy at times. It is great to have a win. It’s been a while.”




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