Chasing Champions: Les Voiles d’Antibes

With only a slight breeze in the air, the majestic Mariska swiftly sailed into first place at Les Voiles d’Antibes – the first major event of the 2017 Mediterranean season.

Since 1996, every boat participating in the prestigious Les Voiles d’Antibes has showcased a unique blend of vintage panache and modern engineering.

During the 5-day regatta held in June, RYA Yachtsman and photographer Sébastien Rohner found himself among the hundreds of sailing families and local enthusiasts of the Panerai Classic Challenge circuit. Camera in hand, Rohner hopped aboard the press motorboat to race alongside several 20th century yachts competing for this year’s trophy.

These classic boats, crafted between the early 1900s to late ‘80s, reach impressive speeds of nearly 10 knots per hour and are impeccably polished and optimised for competitive sailing. Mariska herself, one of only four remaining 15-Meters in the world, was rebuilt from the keel up soon after she was sold to her owner in 2007. It was a rigorous restoration that took nearly three years to complete.

When off the waters, sailors happily join the harbour crowds for long nights of live guitar, DJ and rock ‘n roll performances; decadent dinner gatherings and sea-themed exhibitions. Their ships remain safely anchored in the quay and the festivities make the competition seem like a distant memory...but only until sunrise.

And then the race is on!

Photography by Sébastien Rohner

Words by Shalagh-Ann Fredericks