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Interview with Patrick S. owner of RITUAL (First Yacht 53)

As ever, it was an amazing sight. Yet the 22nd Voiles de Saint-Tropez nearly did not take place. The event, which runs from 26 September to 9 October, brings together nearly 150 classic and modern boats the first week and about twenty Super Series maxi-yachts, in the second week. The First Yacht 53 RITUAL, competing in the IRB  “Modern” category, made its racing debut.  It was a good maiden run for Patrick S. its owner and skipper, a keen sailor and a huge sailing connoisseur, and we were keen to interview him.

Hello Patrick, how did you feel taking part in the Voiles de Saint Tropez for the first time?

Really good! The whole crew really enjoyed taking part in this famous race.  We didn’t have much time between the boat arriving on 8 September and the actual event. Despite this, we managed to prepare RITUAL and to make the necessary adaptations and trimmings for the races. I had a mixed gender crew of 11 people: all long-standing friends. My wife also joined us.

The full Ritual crew, moored on the Quai d’honneur in the port of St Tropez.

How long have you been racing for?

A very long time! I remember heading off to look for a second-hand First Class 12 in Deauville, which I brought down south. Back in the 1990s, I raced on stretches of water or in the Mediterranean Sea on the First 310 and Figaro yachts.

Then came the FIRST 45…

Yes, I bought my First 45 in 2008. I kept it for 12 years until it I traded it in to the Chemins d’Oceans dealer in Grande Motte. They helped me out with my brand new First Yacht 53 project.

What steps did you go through? 

I saw the First Yacht 53 at the Cannes Yachting Festival and then at the Paris 2019 boat show, where I met Yves Mandin from BENETEAU’s Premium Service. Then I ordered the boat early this year. I met the PREMIUM team at BENETEAU’s headquarters, when I came to see the boat. It was still on the production line. I have wonderful recollections of this day.

When the yacht left the factory, RITUAL was transported by a haulier to the harbour of Grande Motte, where it took the First 45’s mooring. I am a young pensioner, with time on my hands, so I carried out some work on her, such as installing electronics.

 

The First Yacht 53 RITUAL on its first outings in the Mediterranean Sea.

What do you think of the yacht’s racing performance?

In the Voiles de Saint-Tropez, we were up against crews who had been sailing together for a long time on boats that were all very different from each other. We focussed hard on finding the windward weight and the right positions upwind. Overall, the First Yacht 53 is very enjoyable to race.

« Her performance is very promising. She’s a surprisingly fast yacht and she responds really well!  »

Several times, RITUAL was side by side with Jean-Pierre Dick’s JP54 “The Kid”, and the competition was fierce! We finished 7th, twice with two ties ahead. The top rankings eluded us, but we did win the Journée des Défis (ed. unofficial regatta).

In the heat of the race! Credit: Gilles Martin-Raget

Have you already settled on a programme for Ritual for the upcoming months?

It takes just under an hour to get to the harbour of Grande Motte from Arles, where we live.  So we can enjoy the comfort of the First Yacht 53 whenever we feel like it. We have planned a programme of sea trips and local regattas. Next year, we hope to take part in some of the other big Mediterranean races: the GIRAGLIA (lovely course between St Tropez, Giraglia northeast of Cape Corsica and Monaco) and the MIDDLE SEA RACE in Malta!

Thank you Patrick for talking to us. RITUAL is definitely a name to remember.