The weather conditions were particularly good for the 120 plus yachts taking part to the final act of 32nd edition of the Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai in the stunning Bay of Cannes, on the French Riviera. Russian Anatoly Loginov was confirmed once more as undisputed winner in the very competitive Dragon class, whilst the victory among the traditional and classic yachts was much more fought for.
The Régates Royales daily could certainly headline: “Thank you Cannes, thank you Aeolus”. As, bar for the opening day, wind never failed to appear, at times light and shifty, but always enough to have fair and fun racing for the oldest and most charming yachts in the Med. No doubt that sometimes the printing machines were a bit slow to start, as it happened on Friday when a rainstorm hit the fleet leaving a very light breeze. But, for the closing day, the crews were all ready to hit the front page. Reading the features on the water could be hard at times, the wind appearing and disappearing like Egyptian signs… Anglo-saxon media have a special gift for making scoop but this time it was not hard to predict the superiority of British yachting…
The Russians rule!
It was clear from the beginning that the Dragons reigning champion was not keen to leave his throne so easily, showing to be in top form to win the Régates Royales in 2010 too. Anatoly Loginov on Annapurna, did not fail to confirm his reputation of never giving up. Apart from a not so brilliant performance on the third day, the Russian crew never finished worse than eight. With this level of competition, their consistency and tactical ability is exceptional and shows the real champion’s patent. On the final day they started in a safe position, but nonetheless were in full control along all the race and finished in fifth, while the fight for the other steps of the podium was furious. Briton Ivan Bradbury on Blue Haze won the last race and confirmed is second position overall, whilst his countryman and internationally renowned skipper Lawrie Smith on Alfie, despite a disqualification for being over the line with a black flag, managed not to step down the podium.
To be noted also the very positive final rush from the local crew from hosting Yacht Club de Cannes Tamm Ha Tamm skippered by Christian Boillot who close in fourth overall.
The Grand Slam…
The final coastal race for the Classic yachts was set in the area off La Napoule. They profited from a light south-westerly breeze, never stronger than eight knots, and very flat sea. As it happened last year Rowdy, flying the Union Flag, did not leave much chance to her competitors. The 1916 Nathanaël Herresoff designed Fighting Forty got a clear score, four wins out of four races. Her owner Graham Walker is pretty new to classic yachting but he certainly does not lack experience, having won several RORC races back in the Nineties with his successful Indulgence. Silver went to Michael Sparks’ White Wings, another British yacht, and bronze to French crew on Blaise Bernos’ Oiseau de Feu.
A similar domination was showed by Jamet Hudleston’s Speedbird in the Spirit of Tradition division, that won all of the four races, while her sistership Pitch owned by Patrice Riboud had a harder time to fend off Nicolas Ryan’s Shamrock attacks.
In the Classic Marconi class the last day promised to be hot with Brad Swain’s Leonore, Hanns Georg Klein’s Anne Sophie and Marilinda Nottis’ Cholita fighting for victory with a mere point difference. In an extremely flimsy breeze, they crossed the finish line in this exact order, confirming the rankings and the podium.
No less fierce was the battle among the Gaffers as the final ranking was not sure until the very last metres to the finish line. Despite a fourth, Olive Pelham’s Kelpie, a Mylne designed Solent One Design dating back to 1903, beat Italian Giuseppe Giordano’s Bona Fide and Jean-Pierre Lostis’ Oriole, the beautiful Herresoff built in 1905.
In the bigger Classic Marconi class Florence Urrutti’s Sagittarius scored an impressive 3, 1,1,1 to defeat Spanish owned Guia, while in the smaller division it was the crew representing the Italian Navy onboard Chaplin skippered by Bruno Puzone has finished with only one point lead on Fabrice Payen’s White Dolphin and Vittorio Cavazzana’s Emeraude. And, finally, among the stunning Big Boats series, undoubtedly the most admired yachts in Cannes today with their huge sails speeding downwind in a breeze not stronger than eight knots, it was the 15M Laurence Mariska to win over Moonbeam of Fife and the other 15M Jim Thom’s Mariquita.
Hall of Fame
Sailing on Mariska, the 15 metres class built in La Ciotat and launched last year at the Régates Royales , there was a certain Mr Tom Schnackenberg calling tactics… The kiwi sailor is a real myth in the America’s Cup and in yachting in general. In 1983 while Australia II was leading on Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes, the nuclear physics engineer designed the first crosscut Kevlar sails, a real technological leap that led to an intense development in sail design software. Tom Schwinning it twice with Peter Blake and Black Magic.
Rum in Cannes
Among all the sailing celebrities who were spotted in Cannes this year there was also famous solo sailor Philippe Monnet, one of the first competitors to sail on the 8M Cœur Vaillant in the newly relaunched 1978 edition of the Régates, which was also the year the first Route du Rhum. Monnet is now undertaking a new challenge: be on the starting line of this year’s race on Ellen MacArthur’s ex Kingfisher
Women on board
This year’s amateur photographic contest title was “The Royal Dames”. The public, who cast their votes, decided that it was local Jean Cresp to win for his picture showing a female sailor on Eilidh…
See you next year
The 32nd edition proved once more to be a huge success as confirmed by Jean-Paul Ortelli Jean-Claude Montesino, Technical director and President of the Yacht Club de Cannes, who declared to be very satisfied with this years’ edition and invited all participants to be present again in 2011 for the 33rd Régates Royales.
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