Over the first two days of the “III Stavros Match Race” event, all 8 teams raced each other in a round robin. It started with a fantastic race between last years Champion, Pieter Heerema who was taken to the wire by Germany’s Vincent Hoesch. In fact Vincent, crewed by Michi Lip and Peter Liebner, looked to have done enough as they surfed towards the finish on the 2nd downwind leg. But even though Theis Palm was giving himself a hernia by pumping the main-sheet as though his Life, Kids and Mortgage depended on it…  It was Hoesch who was awarded a penalty as Lip pumped the spinnaker with his bear like arms and the mainsail in his teeth! Victory Heerema.

Also in the first flight was local Olympian Patrick de Barros who fought hard against Martin Payne, crewed by the Bakker Brother’s from Holland, who were revelling in the big waves and testing conditions. Payne took the victory and so the competition was in full flow. On Saturday evening the usual “Happy Hour” took place in the club Naval de Cascais with Irish Music and a guest singer from Germany…  Yes folk’s Vincie Hoesch was celebrating his 56th Birthday with a most unusual rendition of the “House of the Rising Sun”. It was not completely Vincie’s fault that he sang slightly out of tune, more the damage done by the 2nd bottle of whisky he had consumed and Michi’s attack on the umpire who “penalised” his final pump during race 1. For those interested, Manuel the umpire, will only be detained in Hospital for another couple of days, until he recovers from three cracked ribs and two black eyes! I think he is just waiting for Michi Lip to leave the country…..  🙂   Only Joking.

The Dragons at rest in the beautiful Cascais, Portugal’s little Jewel.

On Sunday the full 14 flights were completed and the top two teams of Payne and Heerema (who both finished on 6 wins out of 7 races) were put straight through to the semi-finals, due on Monday afternoon.  Meanwhile the remaining 6 teams all had a chance to battle for the last two semi-final places in Monday morning’s final round robin. For the record and just missing out on immediate qualification were, Gustavo Lima on 5 wins, Rui Boia 4 wins and Vincent Hoesch 3 wins.

On Sunday evening the whole 8 teams, Umpires, Race Officials and Helpers were invited by Pieter Heerema for supper at the famous Fish Restaurant O’Pescador. It was a great evening during which Patrick de Barros reminded us all that this in fact is the 20th anniversary of the Dragon Class in Portugal. With the club hosting the Europeans in April, I am sure many more boats will consider wintering here next year.

So finally with the Irish team of George, Shawn and Michael Kingston having to retire as Michael took a severe bang to his head during a pre-start, it would be left to Hugo Stenbeck and Patrick de Barros to make their final challenges against the other three to see who would join Heerema and Payne in the semi’s. 

Higher, Faster, Longer…………    Stavros.