As I stroll around the boat-park here in the Club Naval de Cascais, more and more Dragons arrive to take up the challenge of racing in the raw and powerful waves of the Atlantic Ocean.  With the European Championships just a few weeks away, the first Spring Cup, followed by the Grade 1 Juan Carlos Trophy, offers a 15 race package to bring all teams up to speed in these testing but most exhilarating conditions…..

I see from the entry list  that the club are expecting 35 boats for the first series over three days, then 55 boats for the main event, the Juan Carlos Trophy. Owners can chose to keep their boats either on swing moorings adjacent to the club or safely tucked away in the vast Marina which is surrounded by a huge curved retaining wall which keeps the crashing Atlantic waves at bay. Beside the main clubhouse, a Marque has been erected to house the social activities and evening entertainment. This should be quite a “party”……….

On a sailing front one of the favourites must be Lars Hendriksen sailing “Finito”, who seems to revel in the waves and windy conditions. Lars has his European Championship winning crew Will Willett with him and with Lars Stenfelt making up the team I sure they will be hard to beat.  Another Lars sailing is Lars Jensen who has won a Gold Cup event here around 20 years ago, Lars will be helming Pieter Heerema’s cold moulded Dragon with Theis Palm and Henry Lamour as crew, until Pieter arrives on Thursday. In fact the only Lars not here is Lars Place ! 🙂

Other top teams will be the Transbunker teams led by Marcus Wieser and Yevgeni Braslavets, sailing for Sergey Pugachev the Ukrainian owner who has generously sponsored many International Dragon events and does so much for the younger sailors back in Odessa. Top Russian boats RUS 27 and RUS 76 will also be in the mix, as Anatoly Loginov and Dmitry Samohkin have been dominating prior winter series events this season.

Lastly, I cannot finish my opening blog without mentioning the one and only Tommy Muller. Who will be here with his “Bavarian Dream Team” Hoesch and Lipp to not only defend their 2012 Juan Carlos Title, but try and make it a “Hat Trick”of wins, as Tommy, Vincie and Michi also won the event in 2011.  So keep and eye on this page fellow sailors as I record the thrills and spills from sunny (well sometimes) Portugal.  🙂

Higher, Faster, Longer….          Stavros.       GBR 767