A total of 268 boats will be on the startline for this Sunday's opening race of the Hanseatic Lloyd Dragon Class 75th Anniversary Regatta

A total of 268 boats will be on the startline for this Sunday’s opening race of the Hanseatic Lloyd International Dragon Class 75th Anniversary Regatta in St Tropez.

This tribute to one of the truly enduring classic classes of sailing boat, bears many similarities to that other benchmark regatta of the 21st century, the America’s Cup Jubilee of 2001.

While the boats may not be as varied and spectacular as those in Cowes three years ago, the line up of sailing legends who will grace the waters of St Tropez is similarly impressive.

Denmark’s Jesper Bank heads the list of medallist, with two golds and a bronze, but doubtless the man who will probably attract most attention will be Kiwi, Russell Coutts. Representatives at least six European royal families will also be attending in various capacities, and some of them will be competing.

England will have the second largest entry in the event, with 45 boats, two less than Germany, with eight of the British boats being classics.

While the current holder of the Edinburgh Cup, Rory Bowman, is not entered, most of the other leading teams from this season will be there, including Julia Bailey with Aimee, Rob Campbell’s Quicksilver and Ivan Bradbury in Elusive.

There are also some wellknown names to be found amongst the crews, such as Ian Southworth, on Robert Gray’s classic Troika, Andy Beadsworth with David Palmer on Princess Jalina, Jez Fanstone and Mark Covell with Stuart Robinson, and Phil Crebbin with newcomer to the class David Sherriff .

With 268 boats from 32 countries entered for this unique gathering, the fleet has been divided into five groups, except for one special race on Thursday, when all the boats will come to the starting line en masse.

For the rest of the week, with racing scheduled from Monday 11 to Saturday 16, about 40 classics built before 1972 will have their own races, while the rest are split into four groups, which will all sail against each other over the first three days.

As has come to be expected of the Dragon class, the social scene will be just as punishing as the sailing, with activities ranging from boule and golf, to a gala dinner for about 1,500 on the Thursday evening.