The 34th edition of the Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai was meant to be officially opened this morning by forty-four Dragons. Unfortunately, the breeze played hide-and-seek well into the afternoon and the fresh south-westerly was late in setting in, later increasing and gusting 25 knots, allowing the one-design fleet to finish only one race on the opening day.
There were some high-tension moments at noon at the Vieux Port in Cannes as a huge, massive black cloud hovered over the pontoons and the race village, to release its charge of heavy, torrential rain. No more than half an hour of big raindrops, a gusting wind blowing at more than 30 knots and then the sun came out again, warm and bright, drying up the place. The wind also went back to a more acceptable intensity and the Race Committee decided to send the 44-boats strong fleet out shortly before 3 pm. A south-easterly of around ten knots welcomed the sailors but, as the sun went slowly down, the breeze almost completely died out. Actually it was a new wind from the south-west to cause this patch of very light air. The boats were then moved to a different race area in looking for a decent breeze to race.
By 4.30 pm the situation changed dramatically and the Dragons were sailing in over twenty knots and choppy sea. The Committee quickly launched the starting procedure, as the wind gusted to 25 knots. The race, on a double windward to leeward course of 1,2 miles, was won by Russian expert Vassily Senatorov (I feel Good), followed by reigning champion Giuseppe Duca from Italy (Cloud) and by Denmark’s Soren Pehrsson (Blue Lady) while the first French crew to cross the line was Gérard Blanc (Tsuica II) finishing in twelfth.
Old beauties in Cannes
There are seventeen “old beauties”, more than one hundred years old, at the 34th Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai. They are all splendidly maintained and restored and some have truly exceptional stories. The oldest of all is the gaff cutter Victory, designed by Hitchens and built in 1884 while the youngest one Esterel that is also a gaff cutter and is going to celebrate his hundredth birthday this year. Between them and rigorously by their birth date: Marigold (Charles Nicholson-1892), Avel (Charles E. Nicholson-1896), Nan of Fife (William Fife-1896), Lulu (Raibot & Caillebotte-1897), Pen Duick (William Fife-1898), Tigris (Alfred Mylne-1899), Bona Fide (Sibbick-1899), Iona (Willaim Fife-1899), Kelpie (Alfred Mylne-1902), S/Y Moonbeam of Fife 3 (William Fife-1903), Oriole (Nathanaël Herreshoff-1905), Véronique (AR. Juke-1907), Mariska (William Fife-1908), Wayward (Shepherd-1908) and sailing yacht Mariquita (William Fife-1911).
Classic yachts sometimes come from very far away to be in Cannes, like the two Canadian boats especially delivered by cargo ship to participate to the Mediterranean circuit Aloha (Edson Shock-1923) and Lady Van (Charles Nicholson-1928). The most represented country at the Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai is France with thirty-three boats, followed by the UK with twenty-seven and Italy with nine. Montecarlo (3), Canada (2), the Isle of Man (2), Malta (2), Holland (2), the Cayman Islands (2) are also present as well as the USA, Tortola, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland… not to mention the Dragons coming from Finland, Germany, Ireland, Russia and Sweden.