20140607_203227 (1) (320x180)52 boats are racing in La Baule this week for the French National Championship..

It was a beautiful day in La Baule, this wonderful seaside town situated 77 km west of Nantes, for the 52 teams taking part in the annual Derby Dragon. This year the event is also the French National Championships, so we have the maximum number of boats that can be safely handled in this idyllic tidal harbour which can only be entered or vacated at above half tide. Unlike Deauville, this harbour has no “Lock Gates” to send out a clear message…  No in La Baule, you just check your watch and know the exact time of high tide, then make your own call depending on the depth of your keel !!!!

This morning all 52 boats left the marina promptly as each team carried a White Rose to commemorate the past President of 24 years Jean-Francois Baley, “FanFan” who sadly passed away earlier this year, a great loss to us all.

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However, as the new President Dominique Molette said “The Show Must Go On” and so it did for the happy 52 boats who got away cleanly on the second start under a black flag. The most happiest was RUS 27 helmed by Anatoly Loginov, crewed by Alexander Shalagin and Vadim Statsenko who started perfectly alongside me at the committee boat. They tacked and headed right, I continued to the left….  The results speak for themselves…..

Basically what happened was, the tide had just started to turn and in a bay like La Baule, the tide will begin to change earlier in the shallow water.. So although high tide was 12.05 today it was already beginning to ebb on the beach. Those boats, including RUS 27, RUS 98 and FRA 417 who went to the right managed to pick up this early favourable ebb tide. Those boats who started at the pin end of the line, or like us, who went left, were still in slack tide… The other advantage for the inshore boats was the wind began to head as you sailed to the shore…  normal tactics, head to the shore, take the header & tack. So the boats furthest right had current & wind to their advantage.. simple!  (So Stavros, why did you go left?) good question….  My only defence is that we were covering the majority of the fleet after a good start…but by the time we tacked back towards the right, the game was up.

Moral of the story, do your homework, learn the venue, tides, winds, shallows etc…  Then stick with a game plan. As winners for the past 2 years you would think we should have known better, but mistakes happen, such is life. Dust yourself off, take a beer or two, smile and get back out onto the race course the next day.. 

My congratulations to Anatoly and his team in RUS 27, also to RUS 98 Igor Goihberg, Dmitry Berezkin and Roman Sadchykov who finished 2nd and FRA 417 “Corto” owned by Hacene Abbar and helmed by Arthur La Vaillant and third crew Bernard Lauvray for taking the final podium position, 3rd.

Full results on the La Baule web site…

Higher, Faster, Longer……………………   Stavros.   (GBR 585).