Vesper fends off Bella Mente on “long course” at Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022

Day three of Maxi racing at the Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille brought a new challenge for the Maxi class: endurance. The third event of the regatta saw participants fighting over a 47 mile course – nearly twice the distance as the previous two days. Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022 Day threeFor a third day running Jim Swartz’ Judel Vrolijk 72 Vesper drove the pack and claimed top spot in the Maxi class under IRC corrected time. Straight from the gun, her and arch-rival Hap Fauth's Botin Partners 74 Bella Mente were tacking on one another and furiously battling each other for the duration.

The boats were exposed to the full brunt of the Atlantic swell from the first beat as they passed the windward side of St Barts. A long broad reach then followed until the island of Tintamarre off the coast of St Maarten, before the course meandered back along the south side of St Barts towards the finish off the French Caribbean paradise island’s capital Gustavia.Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022 Day threeVesper and Bella Mente both have a number of America’s Cup winners on board, which has inevitably made the event so tense. Aboard Vesper for the first time this year in Kiwi main and jib sheet trimmers Warwick Fleury and Simon Daubney, who were part of Russell Coutt’s core crew that won the America’s Cup for Team New Zealand in 1995 and were repeatedly part of AC winning crews through to Alinghi’s successful defence in 2007. It’s been 12 years though since the two have sailed together, the last time being during the 2010 America’s Cup. Daubney commented: “I am loving sailing with Warwick again. I have sailed with him more than I have sailed with anybody else.”Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022 Day threeReflecting on the third day of St Barth and the battle with Bella Mente, Daubney added:  “We had a gybing duel - we were coming at them on starboard, they gybed on top of us, we gybed back and then we came back in and they thought they could cross us and then they couldn’t.” It was nail-biting stuff come the final stretches as Bella Monte was forced to take a penalty turn, only to recover ground on the subsequent leg. It wasn’t enough though for the black and electric blue Bella Monte as Vespa extended away when they turned up wind. Vesper took the win by three and half minutes on the water, which translated to roughly 10 minutes under IRC corrected time. 

Read: Vesper retains top spot after the second day's event of the Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022 Day threeBella Mente’s tactician Terry Hutchinson recognised that the older generation Vesper is in her element in St Barts’ bigger conditions and that his team are “still dealing with a lot of human error. We only got the boat on Saturday night so, today is day four. They are hard boats to sail and we haven’t raced the boat since September. We have twice led Vesper around the first top mark but not just capitalised either time. A poor craftsman blames his tools - I generally try and look in the mirror when I’m not winning and it is a team mirror this time: All of us collectively just need to do our jobs a little bit better.” 

Read: Vesper takes the top spot in the first race of Les Voiles de St Barth Richard Mille 2022

The leaderboard has remained consistent throughout the week with Vesper up top, followed by Bella Mente. George David’s Rambler 88 is pegged third overall ahead of Wendy Schmidt’s Botin Partners 85 Deep Blue.

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