The first day's racing at the Dragon 75th anniversary was marred by light airs but all three races took place
Bright sunshine and a light breeze greeted the 270-boat fleet this morning for the opening day’s racing of the Hanseatic Lloyd Dragon 75th anniversary regatta in St Tropez. Hundreds of competitors, spectators families and friends of the class gathered for an early morning briefing in preparation for the first race at midday.
Unfortunately what little wind there was earlier on in the day disappeared as the fleets left the port leaving the race officer little choice other than to postpone the starts for nearly two hours until a breeze filled in from the north-east.
In an effort to make racing as fair as possible an interesting course system been devised dividing the fleet (excluding the Classics) in to four groups (blue, green, purple, yellow) according to their international ranking with each group racing the other on two separate courses. Today blue and green raced on the outer (slightly longer) windward/leeward course, while purple and yellow sailed the inner course.
In the first fleet (green/blue) the Danes Henrik Thomsen, Kim Kristensen and Palle Larsen led the way and despite briefly losing the lead round the first leeward mark, managed to work out the tricky shifts and take a first race win ahead of Robert Drontmann, Dirk Rens and Bruno Deryckere sailing BEL61. In third place was the Swedish team sailing SWE326 Gutter Johannnson, Per-Olaf Soderberg and Dan Walker. By taking a superb clear air start in the middle of the line and heading right up the favoured side of the course HRH The Crown Prince of Denmark and crew Carl Erik Kjearsgaard and Kasper Harsberg were able to pull out a healthy position and were satisfied with a sixth place.
Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen crewing for HM King Constantine of Greece had a reasonable day on the water but as Hoj-Jensen pointed out they should have not gone quite so far right up the first beat. Commenting on today’s performance HJ said: “We started in the middle of the line and after five minutes tacked onto port and headed right. However, we went too far and lost out and finished around 30th which we are very happy with. Going right was the right way to go but not far right as we went. A bit more wind would have made life a lot easier today.”
Half an hour later the second fleet (purple/yellow) started but sadly the wind began to die forcing the race officer to shorten the course after just one round of the windward/leeward course. However the Irish trio of Ward Wood, Brian Matthews and Mark Pettitt established a good lead by the first leeward mark and held it to the finish.
The best placed British boat was David Palmer’s Princess Jalina, the newest boat in the regatta, which was only launched on Sunday, and has America’s Cup helmsman Andy Beadsworth in the crew.
Commenting on their first day’s result Beadsworth said: “we stayed out of trouble, stayed in clear air and played the shifts up the middle of the beat,” adding that although it was a new boat, he didn’t think there was much he could do to improve the tuning.
The classic’s race also had to be shortened.
Heat 1: Blue & green groups
1. DEN 352 Henrik Thomsen – Cecilie
2. BEL 61 Robert Drontmann – Tenace
3. SWE 326 Gutta Johannson – Lea
4. SWE 313 Lars-Erik Molse – Da Capo
5 IRL 174 John Ross-Murphy – Rigmarole
6. DEN 336 HRH The Crown Prince of Denmark – Nanoq
Heat 2: Purple and yellow groups
1. IRL 181 Ward Woods – Jessica
2. NED 309 Guus de Groot – Furie
3. NOR 269 Peder Lunde – Hanko
4. SWE 328 Hans Eliasson – Macea
5. SUI 298 Russell Coutts – HHL-Gaudium
6. FRA 276 Dominique Herpe – Araok
Race 1 – Classics
1. GER 257 Dr Herbert Reich – Chaton
2. BEL 48 Michel Lefebvre – Runaway
3. GBR 402 Laurence Jacobsen – Meteor
4. GER 205 Jorg Stein-Wiese – Johnny Siebenschlafer
5. DEN 335 Borge Borresen – Ondine
6. GBR 390 Brian Smith – Gem