121 year old Fife, Kismet, wins her class at Les Voiles de St Tropez
With her varnish glistening and her bottom freshly painted by Fox’s, the 48ft William Fife designed and built gaff cutter, Kismet, now 121 years old, took part in the Regates Royale Cannes and the Les Voile de St Tropez regattas this September.
Maintained at Fox’s Marina & Boatyard, Kismet is in pristine condition and it’s hard to believe that Queen Victoria was on the throne when she was first launched!
Racing in these classic regattas take place under the French CIM rating rule for which the winches were removed and replaced with handybillies. Kismet’s crew had a day of practice before the regattas including sail changes and reefing, which proved especially valuable in the final race at Cannes where the forecast wind of 15 knots freshened to 30-35! With a series of headsail changes and double reefed mainsail, Kismet stretched away to win by eight minutes to score a 2nd place overall in a 20-yacht Regates Royale classic gaff yacht fleet.
In the Voiles de St Tropez, races were typically delayed awaiting breeze and started in 5-6 knots, which freshened during the day. Kismet showing excellent speed ,reaching under a huge 155% overlapping genoa but struggled on the upwind legs. On race two, Kismet was well behind and tactician and Olympic gold medalist, Saskia Clark, opted to break away from the fleet taking Kismet in an entirely different direction looking for a new breeze. This risky call paid off handsomely with Kismet laying the finishing line off St Tropez in a fresh new breeze with the fleet dead downwind still hunting for wind.
Kismet won her class in St Tropez with a 1, 1, 3 score line and has now returned safely home to Fox’s via Antibes and a truck across France without incident. On the same trip last year Kismet arrived at the French crossing port with 12 illegal stowaways who had somehow got aboard during the transit.
Kismet’s next adventure will be a special regatta for Fife yachts in Largs, Scotland in June 2020.