Tilly XV wins 2017 Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy
Photo-finish may seem an overstatement to define centenarian yachts crossing the finish line. But this is actually what happened in Saint-Tropez where eleven crews, out of twenty entrants, finished the race for the 2017 Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy, the only sailing trophy reserved to boats of one hundred years and more.
Tilly XV made the best possible debut at the regatta by snatching a well-deserved victory for a handful of seconds from Spartan, with Linnet closing in third.
The event, raced in a pursuit format with staggered starts, features an especially created and constantly refined handicap system, allowing very different boats in size and rig to compete on equal terms, with the first boat to cross the line off the Saint-Tropez breakwater to be declared the winner.
Racing started in pretty light wind, of around 5 knots, and progressively increased to exceed 20 knots at the mark positioned outside the bay. So much that several crews decided for safety reasons not to gybe, but to tack around the buoy. The leg back to the finish line, was a three-boat fight among German flagged Tilly XV, 2016 champion NY50 gaff cutter Spartan, from the USA and NY30 Linnet, skippered by Brazilian sailing star Torben Grael. Despite their bigger size and most powerful sail plan, the two pursuers could not catch up with the German boat, especially at ease in lighter air and very well sailed by her experienced crew, with skipper Juerg Moessnang and owner Siegfried Rittler.
Tilly XV was built in 1912 Germany for Prince Heinrich Von Preussen, the brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and is the fifteenth of a series of boats that all carry the same name. She is a Sonderklass racer, with a particularly contemporary design, that won the Kiel Week in the very same year she was launched. There are still some 40 Sonderklass boats, mostly sailing in Austria, Germany and the USA.