Friday, 24 September 2010

Régates Royales - Trophée Panerai: A beautiful autumn, sunny, spring day...

by Soazig Guého

As soon as the wind started to blow on the Bay of Cannes, sweeping away the remains of the morning haze, the 120 plus yachts competing in the Régates Royales – Trophée Panerai started to cheer up. The multi-coloured Dragons spinnakers and the Classic Yachts majestic rigs creating a nearly perfect picture. A racing day to carve in stone and to keep for the future to remember...

Classic Yachts have been sailing all the summer, their hulls gliding gently in the water, their masts singing in the wind, their ropes whining on winches...

But on this first autumn day, the sun was still shining for the seventy-three Classic Yachts sailing off the Lerins islands, from La Napoule to La Fourmigue, in a steady southerly wind of around 8 knots. The wind later veered to the west as a forewarn to the upcoming low pressure that should hit Cannes tomorrow night. From the shores of Saint Honorat and Sainte-Marguerite to the beaches of Cannes, people profited from the beautiful day so very similar to spring, to watch the show of Mariquita’s crew taking down her huge balloon jib to round the mark in a perfect slow motion movie. No less magnificent was the performance from the two 15M Tuiga and Mariska, with their hundreds square metres of sailcloth, duelling to get around the mark first. For the smaller boats, sailing upwind to the so called Monks’ Mark - la balise des Moines- proved to be much harder, as they were struggling in stiffer breeze and choppier seas.

Today’s 15 miles long coastal race strengthened the provisional leaders’ position. Among the Big Boat, Moonbeam of Fife skippered by Erwan Noblet scored another first, leading on the 15 Metre Tuiga helmed by Bernard D’Alessandri and representing Yacht Club de Monaco. Jamet Huddleston’s Speedbird, was particularly fast today, got an impressive victory in the Spirits of Tradition class on powerful Nicolas Ryan’s Shamrock. In the Classic gaffer division Kelpie’s win was not enough to contrast Francis van de Velde’s Oriole general leadership.

Among the Marconi, the coastal race saw the comeback of Anne Sophie Hanns Georg Klein, who crossed the line in front of Marilinda Nottis’ Cholita and Brad Swain’s Leonore. For the smaller Marconis, Rowdy skippered by Graham Walker took the provisonal lead, followed by Michael Sparks’ White Wings and Blaise Bernos’ Oiseau de Feu. Finally, Spanish crew on Ramon Roses Batllo’s Guia third place now place them behind Florence Urrutti’s Sagittarius and Maria Giovanna II owned by Jean-Pierre Sauvan in the Classic Marconi Class, while Italian Navy’s Chaplin led by Bruno Puzone and Fabrice Payen’s White Dolphin switched places.

The battle will surely be fierce tomorrow...


A very unfortunate collision took place on the Classic Yacht racecourse: while rounding the last mark before the finish, gaff ketch Thendara’s bowsprit crushed into Moonbeam’s boom, causing extensive damage to the mainsail and a big scratch to the wooden boom itself but, luckily enough, not hurting anyone on board. Hopefully both boats will be able to be on the starting line tomorrow.

The Dragon army

For the sixty one-design boats, the third racing day was another important step to the final scoreboard – since the first discard gets into account after five races. The sixty Dragons had two races today, the first one sailed in shifting, unstable air and the second in a much more set south-westerly of about ten knots. For Russian skipper Anatoly Loginov on Annapurna, the future seems pretty bright, his worst ranking being a fifteenth.

Longinov can count on a good ten points advantage on second placed Ivan Bradbury’s British crew on Blue Haze, who in turn has only a thin lead on his world-famous countryman Lawrie Smith on Alfie, whose very consistent performances place him in third at 34 points. Austrian Carlo Loo on Happy Island and Swiss Ulli Libor on Sui Generis, follow closely at 38 ad 39 points respectively. First French skipper is Christian Boillot on Tamm Ha Tamm in seventh. Yet, the second and third step of the podium are still there to grab, especially tomorrow when the weather conditions could play an important role, with high winds and rain.

Régates Royales - Trophée Panerai