Kismet Wins 11th Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

Plus, a Film Premiere from the Regatta’s 10th Edition

British flagged “Kismet” won the 11th edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy, the traditional rendezvous at the Voiles de Saint-Tropez for classic yachts that are 100 years or older.

Kismet (1898) skippered by Great Britain’s Richard Matthews has won the 2022 edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy, with only a tiny margin on Scud (1903) owned by Italian Patrizio Bertelli with Torben Grael calling tactics in second, and Oriole (1905) sailed by a young Spanish crew completing the podium.

Kismet is a gaff cutter designed by William Fife III and built in Scotland in 1898. Following a long racing career she was used as a houseboat until 2005, to then be restored and make a return to regattas, winning several events. This was her third participation at the Centenary Trophy and, in fact, the third time was the charm. An elated Matthews, just after docking in, said: “We are very happy, the boat went perfectly, we never had her going so fast windward. And the course was perfect, we had enough wind, not too much. It was just perfect sail. We were looking back and kept saying ‘where are they?’ We saw Scud coming up fast, but we thought we’ve got enough time, we can make it and we did. The key moment was when we decided to change the small jib into a bigger one. We have got a great crew too; they are very good sailors. We would love to come back next year to defend the title!” concluded Matthews.

The Centenary Trophy was raced on a nine-nautical-mile course set in the Gulf of Saint Tropez, with the start and finish line just off the breakwater to allow the public and the fans to admire the show of the old ladies battling for victory.

After two days of strong mistral, the Cote d’Azur provided perfect sailing conditions, blue sunny skies, warm temperature and a westerly of around 15 knots. First to cross the starting line (per the Centenary Trophy’s pursuit format with staggered starts using a specially-created and constantly-refined handicap system allowing different boats in size and rig to compete on equal terms) was gaff cutter Lulu (1897) at 12.45 h.

The rest of the 20-strong fleet followed suit, with the smaller and better rated yachts to the likes of Fife’s designed Jap (1897), pilot cutter Madcap (1874) and rookie Dainty (1922) a few seconds later, whilst the more powerful and faster ones – the huge schooner Shenandoah of Sark (1902), the P-class Chips (1913), NYYC 50 Spartan (1913) and finally the Bermudan ketch Sumurun (1914) – distanced by 30 to 40 minutes.

Kismet started seventh but managed to catch up on the initial stretch to the first downwind mark, and from then on maintained the lead until the finish line, where her crew celebrated the victory in style!

Kismet’s crew celebrate their victory in the Centenary Trophy – Photo © Juerg Kaufmann/GYC

Daniel Heine, sailing officer at the Gstaad Yacht Club, who today raced onboard Gaff yawl “Veronique” (1807) said: “What a glorious day of racing it was. 15-18 knots of wind and clear, blue sky and air. All the centenarian boats sported great performances, for a close and challenging race with a well-deserved winner. Congratulations to “Kismet” for becoming the first Fife designed yacht to be awarded the Centenary Trophy.”

Participants gathered for the prize-giving ceremony, where “Kismet’s” whole crew was awarded with “The Trophy”, that is also centenary, as it was created by Wakely and Wheeler in London in 1911, exactly 100 years before the first edition of the regatta.

The Gstaad Yacht Club’s Commodore, Manrico Iachia also celebrated this years’ regatta success: “We are proud the Trophy racing format has proved once again to suit perfectly these magnificent boats, the whole club wishes to congratulate Richard Matthews and his crew for the win and we hope to have all this year’s participants and many more in 2023. See you in 2023!”

Past winners of the Centenary Trophy 2011:

2011: Bonafide (1899)
2012: Marigold (1892)
2013: due to adverse weather conditions the title was not awarded
2014: Olympian (1913)
2015: Oriole (1905)
2016: Spartan (1913)
2017: Tilly XV (1912)
2018: Tilly XV (1912)
2019: Olympian (1913)
2021 Olympian (1913)
2022 Kismet (1898)

A Film Premiere

Since the first edition in 2011, the Gstaad Yacht Club gathers 100-year-old or older classic yachts at the shores of Saint-Tropez. The Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez followed the same successful format adopted in 2021, and the two-week long event provided the opportunity for boat lovers to enjoy all the kinds of classes from Classics to Maxis, with each category showing off its virtues.

At the 10th Edition of the GYC Centenary Trophy, the GYC Committee decided to co-participate in a film with well-known Olympic Champion Shirley Robertson, with the goal to capture the meaning of competing in this prestigious regatta for both the owners and the sailors. The production was released and premiered at the 11th Edition of the Centenary Trophy Regatta at the La Renaissance Theatre in the heart of Saint-Tropez. The room was full of sailors, prominent people in the sailing scene, local dignitaries of the town and diverse yacht club representatives from around the world!

The GYC Sailing Officer Dr. Daniel Heine welcomed the audience. The premiere was followed by a short interview moderated by Rob Peake (Classic Boat Magazine) with Shirley Robertson and Jürg Kaufmann, the Official Photographer of the event. When asked what drew her to this project, Shirley Robertson said “…it is a real privilege for us to be asked by the Gstaad Yacht Club, to come and capture a special year, shot in 4K and it’s a lovely archive that hopefully will go on and on, and in 50 or 100 years time when these boats are still doing their thing hopefully it will be a lovely archive of them in action racing against each other.”

It was a unique moment to look back and watch with our friends, again seeing the group of Centenarian Yachts that participated in the very special 10th regatta and the testimonials of owners and skippers regarding how they view the GYC and this iconic event in the South of France. Following the film premiere, a raclette-based aperitif provided by Simmentaler Original was highly appreciated by the audience, accompanied by locally produced French Rosé and white wines. The GYC’s intention is to showcase all the charm from Switzerland, and from Gstaad in particular, to the South of France.


Photographer: Jürg Kaufmann