May 20' 2009 - #104
Sailing, Theatre, and Poetry
The first weekend in May, the island’s attention turned to sailing. In the Bay of St. Jean, the St Barth Nautical Center (CNSB) organized “Tour 2009,” the sixth annual around-the-island competition for windsurfing and sports catamarans, with small sailboats from the St Barth Yacht Club (SBYC) added to the mix for the first time. In the first edition of this event in 2004, the records set by Ricardi Maricel for windsurfing— 1h 14mn 37sec— and by the team of Jeff Lédée/Vincent Jordil for catamarans —1h 32mn 50sec— were still the times to beat going into this year’s event.
The 2009 tour was rich with promise: winds of 12 to 13 knots from the north/northwest, calm seas, and good weather conditions heralded some fabulous regattas. The beach was a busy place by early morning on Saturday, May 2, as the six Lasers from the SBYC set sail first, followed an hour later by nine windsurfing competitors and seven catamarans. After crossing the Bay of St Jean, they all set sail for Tortue, with an itinerary which proved easier than usual near the point of Toiny, thanks to the calm seas and a beautiful descent along the windward coast of the island. Near Gouverneur, the “cats” and windsurfers took the lead as they passed the Lasers, then in approaching Shell Beach they encountered the boats in the West Indies Regatta as they sailed by. In the catamaran class, the teams of Jeff Lédée/Vincent Jordil and Vincent Beauvarlet/Turenne Laplace beat the record established in 2004 by crossing the finish line in 1h 24mn 10sec and 1h 28mn 50sec, respectively. For the windsurfers, the arrivals in St Jean resembled a sprint for the finish. Gilles Reynal finally took the lead and crossed the finish line in first place with a time of 1h 35mn 20sec, beating Pierrick Guilbaud and Jean-Marc Peyronnet by barely two minutes. Théo Reynal, who at the age of 14 was the youngest participant, had a time of 1h 48mn 18sec, followed just 64 seconds later by Hélène Guilbaud, the only woman in the competition. Benoît Meesemaecher was at the helm of the winning Laser, setting a new record with a time of 2h 35mn 59sec. The next day, Sunday, May 3, the CNSB held an open house, as it were, inviting children and adults to try their hand at windsurfing, catamaran, Laser, or RS Feva, another light boat from the SBYC.
The same weekend, the Port of Gustavia played host to a small fleet of eight traditional wooden sailboats from Antigua. They took part in two days of friendly racing organized by the West Indies Regatta, under the aegis of Loulou Magras and Alexis Andrews, a nautical photographer. The event was a success for these longtime friends, whose idea was to bring these Carriacou sloops and schooners that represent traditional Caribbean sailing to the waters of Saint Barth. Anchored in front of the Hotel de la Collectivité, the boats attracted a large crowd during the evening hours when various activities took place and people were able to see a slide show, video screenings, and books about the construction of these charming boats.
Theatre Festival and Poetry Days
The eighth annual St Barth Theatre Festival—organized by the local troupe, SB Artists, and their director, Nadège Emmanuelian—took place May 6-16. An eclectic program was rich in comedy, with hilarious performances alternating with more serious subjects. Clémence Massart, who was at the festival two years ago with her piece based on Sleeping Beauty, returned this year with "Que je t'aime,” directed by Philippe Caubère, and pulled from actual, yet incredible love letters from women in the 50s and 60s and read by the actress. Comics François Rollin and Willy each presented a one-man show, while SB Artists presented three productions: “Un air de famille,” a comedy written by the team of Jaoui/Bacri; “Les belles sœurs,” a vaudeville by Eric Assous; and “The Good Body,” by Eve Ensler, who also wrote “The Vagina Monologues.” All of the performances took place in the renovated venue next to the Catholic Church in Gustavia.
New this year, the festival teamed up with the “Poetry Days” organized by Monique Pignet. Poets Luis Mizon and Virgile Novarina made visits to the island schools, while Novarina continued his nocturnal art studies by sleeping for six nights in a bed in the window of the linens shop, La Case Piment Vert in Gustavia. His goal is to reveal what happens while he is sleeping the designs and sketches he makes and shows around the world are souvenirs of his dreams, which he notes down every time he awakens. To get the school kids to think about poetry and the imaginary, he asked them to find names for each night of the week based on the names of the days. Actor Eric Judor, known for his role in the television series, H, led a series of theatre workshops and the French “slammer” Grand Corps Malade performed on Saturday evening to a standing-room-only crowd at AJOE. Ten intense days included a cultural program comprising poetry readings, gatherings and debates at gallery Porta 34 after 3pm, and sold-out theatrical performances in the evening. Based on the success of this event, SB Artists presented a reprise of “Les belles sœurs” on May 23, “Un air de famille” on May 30, and “Un corps parfait,” on June 5.
Trained as an actress, Nadège taught theatre classes in Paris while completing her university degree. She came to St Barth in 1997 to start a new life, and her cousin Martine, who lived on the island, encouraged her not to abandon the theatre. So Nadège first offered theatre workshops for children, then classes for adults. SB Artists began to take shape with a group of amateur actors who were thrilled to have a professional such as Nadège to guide them.
Monique Pignet owns a few villas on the island, and is a former teacher who became interested in the hotel business with her husband. She is the creator of “Poetry Days,” an event intended to promote poetry throughout the French West Indies.
St-Barths Online: What gave you the idea to create a theatre festival?
Nadège Emmanuelian: At the Select in 2001, I met an amateur actor who was with a theatre company in St Martin and who wanted to establish a link between the two islands. The first year, we organized a mini festival of café-theatre with the troupe from St-Martin, a troupe from Guadeloupe, and SB Artists.
St-Barths Online: Who had the idea to associate the theatre with poetry?
Monique Pignet: The “Poetry Days” event is a new adventure for me every year, with the goal of sharing experiences and meeting new people. After our association with the book festival in 2008, I was looking for a new organization structure for our third edition of the event this year. I met with Nadège and our conversations led us to a mutual decision to build bridges between poetry and the theatre. The success of these exchanges goes well beyond my expectations, as the two disciplines blend harmoniously without stepping on each other’s toes.
St-Barths Online: Do you think you will work together again next year?
Nadège and Monique: It is too early to say, but we are both extremely satisfied with the results from this first experience, why not continue to consolidate our efforts in the future…
More to come