The Irish team of John Ross-Murphy, Ailbe Millerick and Ed Peel has won the Hanseatic Lloyd-sponsored Dragon 75th anniversary race in St Tropez

Following yesterday’s strong winds in St Tropez which forced the postponement of racing, competitors at the Hanseatic Lloyd-sponsored Dragon 75th anniversary regatta were itching to get on the water for this morning’s mass start anniversary race.

Moderate winds from the south-south-east, made for perfect conditions as the 270-boat fleet made its way out to the start line. However, not particularly surprising on the 2.51km long start line there were three general recalls which delayed the start for and hour and a half. However, the much-needed black flag for the fourth attempt proved successful and the fleet finally got underway. Unfortunately 69 boats were sent home!

Amazing, was probably the best word to describe the experience of watching 270 graceful Dragons head off from the start line and work their way up the beat in the shifty conditions. It would be highly unfair to say the race was a lottery but when you have this number of boats fighting for clear air, luck plays a very important part. And like any ‘normal’ race getting the best start is the make or break.

The Irish team of John Ross-Murphy, Ailbe Millerick and Ed Peel aboard IRE174 Rigmarole sailed a superb race and by sailing a good, tactical first beat were able to work on their lead down the run and pull out an advantage at the leeward mark. Commenting on the win Ross-Murphy said: “We started in the middle third of the line because we’ve learnt from the previous races not to go too deep on the right, where you lose the wind, because the pressure comes in from further out. The advantage is to the right for a while, and then to come out for pressure. On the first day, when we actually led near the top, we didn’t go tack in, and the other guys got inside us. So we held out to the right today, because we felt there was more pressure. That’s where we got into the lead.

“Words can’t describe how I feel, and how my guys feel, it’s just fabulous. Ailbe is my co-owner, and he was up front, and Ed only started sailing with me last year, and the very first event we did, Dournenez, we won, that was the first time I ever sailed with Ed, and that was my biggest win in sailing, and then to do this on top of that, it’s awesome really.”

HRH King Constantine of Greece sailing with Claus Hoj-Jensen and Per Kloster Hanson in Harro Kniffka’s boat HLL-Gaudium also had a fantastic day on the racecourse and was more than satisfied with his position in the top 10. Commenting on his race as he stepped ashore – before he’d discovered he’d been black-flagged – HRH King Constantine said: “The finishing line was so long it was hard to tell quite frankly where we finished. All I know is that it was very close with three of us crossing the line together. I started just to leeward of the committee boat but I couldn’t tack so I had to continue on starboard tack until I found a spot to tack. It was important to get away from the other boats.

“It was very exciting and a good thing they introduced the black flag. I enjoyed every moment of the race.”

The best Royal result today was HRH The Prince Consort of Denmark with his crew of Lars Hendriksen and Lars Steenfeldt who finished a creditable second overall.

Hanseatic Lloyd’s Chairman Harro Kniffka who was unfortunate to break his mast and boom in a collision on Tuesday ( see previous news story here , was fighting fit again in today’s race sailing with Ulli Libor and Jacques Rogge. Chatting about the race Kniffka said: “We finished about 100th which we we’re happy with under the circumstances. It was so crowded on the racecourse. We started with the King [Constantine] at committee boat end but regretfully we didn’t make it so fast.”

Despite having trouble dropping their kite at the leeward mark, Russell Coutts and team Yann Neergard and Sam Evans, continued their consistent form by finishing ninth. They’re also lying ninth overall in the overall regatta series. But Coutts is not particularly happy with today’s performance commenting: It was unique, different but we didn’t do very well. We screwed it up at the end. It was interesting, because you’re racing to two different marks, which are a long way away, and I had difficulty to judge which one’s closer.”


1.      IRL   174       Rigmarole – John Ross-Murphy/Ailbe Millerick/Ed Peel

2.      DEN   346       Najade – HRH Prince Consort of Denmark/Lars Hendriksen/Lars Steenfeldt

3.      GER   914       Ratlok – Christopher Opielok/Wolfgang Kohn/Thomas Auracher

4.      NED   357       Wodan II – Roel van Olst/Tjacko van Olst/Volkert Teding van Berkhout

5.      NED   316       Escapade – Pieter Heerema/Dolf Peet/Hay Winters

6.      GER   982       Chrisco – Dieter Schoen/Vincent Hoesch/Andreas Huber