As Main Partner of Les Voiles, Richard Mille was present at the starting line, accompanying the 1,100 sailors who participated throughout the weeklong event. The brand also took this occasion to inaugurate its first boutique in the Caribbean.

This year, the poster for Les Voiles was created by renowned street artist and Richard Mille partner Cyril Kongo. Painting on a vintage sail, Kongo approached it as he would any other type of surface: ‘because the cloth is more porous than canvas, the colour masses appear a bit worn, more pastel: it’s interesting. So, even after the fact, you can reconstruct how the work took shape, because the gestures and movements of the spray can over the sail take on a weathered appearance. It’s as though I had breathed life back into it, simply by inscribing “Les Voiles de St Barth” across it using my graphic vocabulary.’

Distributed among 70 crews competing in 9 different classes, the seafarers all set sail under middling conditions, with a wind oscillating between 12 and 15 knots. These weather conditions delighted tacticians, who had a fight on their hands for the long and technical itinerary imposed by the race route. After two days of exhausting races under weak or unstable wind conditions, the crews came ashore for a well- earned day of rest.

An opportunity to relax for some, while others pursued recreational activities, this day also witnessed the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first Richard Mille Boutique in St Barts: ‘We couldn’t imagine an island more suited to welcoming our brand. The boutique’s design takes its design cues from its territorial situation—on an island overlooking the shore—and its agreeable patio, where anyone can relax with a glass of Champagne as they discover our watches,’ confides John Simonian, CEO of Richard Mille Americas. Guests at the inauguration enjoyed an opportunity to view some of the most beautiful pieces in the collection, especially the RM 60-01 Flyback Chronograph Regatta, one of which was conferred on the overall winners of the Maxi Yacht class.

This automatic timepiece in grade 5 titanium supports high-seas navigation thanks to a specially-designed rotating bezel bearing the four cardinal points and a 360° graduated disk with a 24-hour scale. A partner of Les Voiles from the very first, Richard Mille confirms the significance of the nautical world for the brand: ‘My commitment to a eld like sailing is all the more fervent because the domain encourages full expression of the Richard Mille philosophy. It’s an opportunity to combine extreme performance, cutting- edge technology and a strong artistic component, while respecting the hallowed traditions of a discipline. Thousands of hours of R&D are needed to bring a superyacht into being; the same is true of our watches. To say nothing of the race against time!’

The competition became difficult going forward, however, as crews struggled to make the most of ‘gentle breezes’. The conditions were such that the Racing Committee had no choice but to cancel Saturday’s races. As a result, there was no change to the rankings. While this was a very unusual scenario for the Les Voiles, the event closed following what were nonetheless three intensive and beautiful days of regattas.

Peter Harrison, CEO of Richard Mille EMEA, wore his sailor’s cap for the occasion. With his sailboat, Sorcha TP 52 sporting the livery of Richard Mille, he finished 1st in the CSA 0 class, after placing 3rd and 2nd in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Victory in the Maxi Yacht category went to Proteus, belonging to the American George Sakellaris, who also took the top spot in the general rankings, as he did in last year’s regatta.

As of now, skippers and sailing enthusiasts can register for the next edition of Les Voiles, set to take place on 9 – 14 April 2018, as always with the unwavering support of Richard Mille.

Photos © AST Photography & Design