Vesper retains top spot after the second day's event of the Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022

Tough, windy conditions remained undeterred as competitors battled it out on day two of the Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille. Both the Maxi and CSA 3 races were just as ferocious as the weather conditions: 20+ knot gusty easterly winds and sizable Atlantic swell.Vesper yacht at day two of Les Voiles de St Barth Richard MilleJim Swartz’s JV72 Vesper came out on top in the Maxi Class, as the team came close enough to her longer Botin Partners-designed rival, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, to win under IRC corrected time. 

The race was “cut-throat” with the two former Maxi 72s fighting tooth and nail for the lead spot. Vesper’s Kiwi tactician Gavin Brady, Bella Mente said he was looking for maximum engagement: “It makes it interesting and we are definitely entertaining the owners, but it’s got to the point where it is better for us if they are just in front of us, otherwise they are always going for a penalty.”Day two of Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022“They tried to set a trap and hit us today. I knew that something was going to unfold - we avoided them, but I had to grab the leeward wheel and spin us out of the way,” Brady continued. “Both boats slowed down to 3 knots from a reach! But we have been racing each other for years and have enough good sailors to deal with that. You just have to be ready.”Vesper yacht at day two of Les Voiles de St Barth Richard MilleThe course for day two, taking place around the French Caribbean islands, was similar in length to the preceding day’s events as the Maxis tackled a 28-mile route. The course was predominantly in the lee of St Barts, and had a shorter loop up into the nature reserve northwest of the island and a longer drag up top, which left the boats unprotected against the Atlantic swell.Day two of Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022Bella Mente’s co-helmsman and crew boss, two-time Volvo Ocean Race winner Mike Sanderson, spoke about the experience of the day. “There were four or five lead changes and we got tangled up with Deep Blue up the first beat and down the first run. There were plenty of opportunities - it was a super fun course and it was never over, right until the end. Vesper passed us on the reach when we had a few issues and we passed them on the last run into the finish, but we didn’t make up our time.”Day two of Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022Read: Vesper takes the top spot in the first race of Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022

“On board it was tough with green water regularly sluicing the cockpit,” Sanderson continued. “It was impressive - jumping off waves and hitting 23-24 knots… The [bilge] pumps are working hard, especially on very inshore orientated boats like ours, with far too many holes in the deck. It gets a bit hairy.”Day two of Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022Vesper is leading the pack after day two with Bella Mente close behind her. George David’s Rambler 88 finished third for the second time, ahead of Wendy Schmidt’s Deep Blue. The Mills 68 Prospector unfortunately had to retire from racing due to crew health reasons.