The light easterly wind put at test the crews’, and especially the tacticians’ ability on day 3 of the Régates Royales – Trophée Panerai in the sun bathed bay of La Napoule. The race committee was forced to wait until the early afternoon hours to fire the start signal for the classic yachts. Two races for the Dragon fleet, where three boats are tight at the top and everything will be decided tomorrow…
Veering from south-westerly to easterly the wind has decidedly died down on the Bay of Cannes, only seven or eight knots for the start. The 68 boats had then to take multiple tack to reach the first mark just in front of the Lérins Islands and as many spinnaker gybes to get to the downwind mark at Esquillon.
The shifty, light air going lighter and lighter as the boats were approaching the pointe de l’Aiguille creating an enormous traffic jam. The smaller boats had the best of the situation, being more at ease in the flimsy wind. As it was the case of Bona Fide, winner of the Traditional Yacht prize in 2010, that crossed the line with more than half an hour lead on her adversaries. Built in 1899 by Albert Yard in Cowes and designed by Charles Sibbick, this gaff cutter created for the so called Godinet rule, won no less than eighteen races in the Mediterranean before taking part to the Olympic Games in Paris. In the “Five Tonners” division, Bona Fide took the gold medal flying a UK flag. After having sailed for many years on Italy’s Lake Como, the boat was left in a state of complete neglect and only saved after four decades by American architect Doug Peterson. Bona Fide passed in the care of owner Giuseppe Giordano who completely restored her, with the help of craftsman Carlo Terramoca, and was re-launched in 2003.
Battle of the Dragons, tomorrow’s the day.
One day to the finish and the Dragon overall ranking is tighter than ever. After two more races today the higher step of the podium is occupied by two crews tied at points and the third is only one point down, at 26 and 27 respectively. Italy’s Giuseppe Duca on Cloud with a sixth and a win has joined Poul Richard Hoi Jensen on Danish Blue who scored a 15th and a 5th, the pair now lead on reigning champion Anatoly Longinov on Annapurna, but the fourth placed Irish Martin Byrne on Jaguar Bear at 28 is not far away (17/6 today) and no doubt will try and fire his best bullets on the final day. British Ivan Bradbury on Blue Haze went up a place, and is now 5th at 37 points. Unfortunately HRH Prince Heinrik of Denmark on White Lady did not have his best score so far (13/26) and slipped back in 9th in the overall standings. Hopefully the weather conditions will be on the organizers and sailors’ side tomorrow for the final and decisive races that will crown the 2011 Régates Royales champion.
A Prince at the Royales
HRH the Prince Henrik of Denmark is participating to the Régates Royales – Trophée Panerai on his Dragon White Lady (DEN 166) and agreed to give us an exclusive interview.
Who introduced you to the Dragon class?
“I used to sail another kind of boat, the Klar some forty years ago. I switched to the Dragon when the boat ceased to be an Olympic class, because the races were almost completely in the hands of professional sailors. I then launched the Dragons in my country, it was 1981…”
Is sailing a traditional sport in Denmark?
“Oh yes, Denmark is a sailors’ country because we’re surrounded by the sea. Our maritime tradition dates back a long time and we have very good racing sailors too. Danish athletes do often well at the Olympics, suffice to remember Paul Elvstrom with his four gold medals or Poul-Richard Hol-Jensen, who won three medals, two golds and a silver.”
The Régates Royales owe their name to the king of Denmark.
“King Christian X of Denmark in the thirties used to own a villa in Cannes where the royal family spent their holidays, he sailed in the Bay onboard Dana, the 6MI owned by Madame V.G. Graae. Together with the local authorities, the Société des Régates de Cannes and the International Yacht Club asked the king permission to call “Régates Royales” the week long series organized in 1929.”
Have you been involved in the renaissance of the Régates Royales?
“When I came back to Cannes I was racing on a 6MI, then I started sailing on a Dragon and when the authorities asked if I would agree to call the event Régates Royales, I definitely replied yes!”
Is sailing a family tradition for you?
“No, not really since Christian X, but King Carlos of Spain is a keen sailor and my brother-in-law, Constantinthe King of Greece has won a gold in Rome 1960 on a Dragon.”
Do you participate to many events with your Dragon?
“When I have free time, the last time I was here in Cannes was five years ago, but I think I’ve taken part at least ten times to the Régates Royales. I believe this will be the last at the helm, because I have a certain age: It’s becoming tiring, but I love it so much!”