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Smiles all round from my “Team” on GBR 818 “True Story” with Dominic & Olivier Bakker.

The 20th Anniversary of the Dragon Derby took place in La Baule from 25th-29th May. 25 teams joined in the fun and everyone enjoyed being back in this wonderful location after the covid pandemic prevented sailing there in 2020 & 2021.

The Y.C.L.B. clubhouse has been modified and improved to provide excellent hospitality and offer the “full package” to entertain sailors keeping them happy and in great spirits. President Dominique Molette and Vice President Clem Baley lead by example supported by all the helpers and volunteers making this yacht club one of the best in the world!

Superb conditions in La Baule with 8 races completed over 4 days.

Competition was tough and it was great to catch up with old friends again after 2 years away. With 2 races sailed each day it was NED 309 (Guus de Groot) and GBR 818 (Martin Payne) who seized the early initiative on day 1 to both finish on 4 points. On day 2 it was FRA 391 (Jean Breger) who gained the advantage to lead overall as both NED 309 and GBR 818 recorded one bad race. So both Guus de Groot and Martin Payne returned ashore hoping they would be able to discard their poor result later in the week.

FRA 391 “Ulysse” was leading after day 2 with very constant results.

It was also good to see “The Man” Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen back racing crewed by Katie Cole and Chris Brittain. Although it took the “Danish Blue” team a while to get going, with two race wins later in the series Poul-Richard finished the regatta strong to finish a very creditable 4th overall. Also sailing very well after a long time off the water was our former IDA Chairman Richard Blickman helming his Petticrows cold moulded NED 393 “Cobweb” crewed by Remco Van Den Berg & Koen Desmet who would finish 5th overall. Well done.

The Legend returned to La Baule, Poul-Richard, with Katie & Chris. 4th overall and NED 393 Richard Blickman, with Remco & Koen 5th overall.

On day 3 both GBR 818 and NED 309 had two good results which allowed them to discard their bad races on day 2 and put them at the top of the overall leader board respectively, with FRA 391 having to settle for 3rd place. The final day saw the wind completely change direction blowing from the shore giving huge wind shifts with big changes in direction and pressure. This meant there would be many place changes, just like a game of snakes and ladders, giving all the many spectators great viewing. Y.C.L.B always have a huge turn-out on the water, it’s like one big family and the camaraderie is like no other club.

Tight racing on the final day, but it was GBR 818 “True Story” who took the title.

At the Prize Giving the French National Title was awarded to the top French team FRA 391 “Ulysse” Jean Breger, crewed by Christian Gout and Jean-Paul Roux who finished 3rd overall. In 2nd place overall and Top Corinthian Team was NED 309 “Furie” Guus de Groot, Hay Winters and Richard van Rij. Then the winners of the 20th Anniversary of the Dragon Derby and “Open” French National Champions was GBR 818 “True Story” Martin Payne, crewed by Dominic and Olivier Bakker.

(Left to right) Jean Breger, Jean-Paul, Martin Payne, Dominic Bakker, Guus de Groot, Hay Winters & Richard Rij.

On behalf of all the competitors I want to thank Y.C.L.B.’s helpers and volunteers for making this Dragon Derby the best ever! Also thanks to my excellent crew Dominic and Olivier Bakker for keeping me calm under pressure and guiding me around the race course.  Many thanks also go to the excellent Race Management Team led by Helene Prud’Homme and Chairman of the Jury Didier Greze for doing a great job managing the 8 race series. I also want to thank Morgan behind the bar 🙂 and photographer Bruno Bouvry for the fantastic pictures.

Make a note in your diaries the 21st edition of the Dragon Derby will be 17th-20th May 2023.

Higher, Faster, Longer……..    Stavros.    GBR 818 “True Story”