Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen sailing GBR 775 Danish Blue, with Paul  Maguire and Peter Bowering, won this magnificent regatta after a “testing” final three races on Friday, which concluded the event, as no sailing could be held yesterday due to the strong winds across Western Europe. It proved to be another great succes for the Yacht Club of La Baule as the 35 boats and their followers had a most wonderful week of top class sailing and hospitality…. From the early morning breakfast, the complementary “packed Lunches”, the excellent race management and the very social happy hours it was non-stop entertainment and pure enjoyment for all. To take part in the annual Derby Dragon is something to be experienced.

The final three races on Friday were held in a very modest light breeze from the south, which surprised quite a few competitors as we were all expecting the 18-20kts that had been forecast. This reduction in wind and it’s new direction meant tidal knowledge of this amazing bay was essential and this was proven as three different “local” boats won the races. Meanwhile Poul-Richard, myself and the rest of the many visitor’s were having a hard time chosing our “lanes” and which side of the course to protect etc…  In race 8 in was FRA 403 Jean Guillard crewed by Gwen Chapalain and Le Gonidec who hit the right corner on the second upwind leg to catch some favourable tide which won them the race.

In race 9 (the second of the day) the fleet split 50/50 off the line, half to the right (after seeing FRA 403’s success in the previous race), and half to the left who obviously were thinking the tide may have changed between races…. The outcome was quite amazing as in fact there was still the very last bit of flood tide favouring the right side of the course, but only if you went far enough…  As boats that only went halfway to the right got well beaten from the boats that went left taking advantage of the shallow shoreline water. However, the winner of this race FRA 396 Remy Aurnaud came from the furthest right at the top of the beat, showing his precise knowlegde of the bay and superb light wind speed.

At this stage Poul-Richard “Danish Blue” had struggled to record a 10th & 8th place and your’s truly “Bear” a 7th and 8th, so we were getting a serious “wake up” call as the overall scores were beginning to get extremely competitive. To that end the last race (race 10) was to prove the decider and the turning tide of La Baule was to have it’s final say……

So Race 10 and 50% of the fleet wanted to start at the boat and “bang” the right corner hoping to repeat FRA 396 previous success, whilst the other half of the fleet chose to take the left shore thus starting down the line towards the pin end… I along with Remy were two of the 6 boats that rafted up the “wrong” side of the committee boat at the gun !!  It was such a basic mistake as all the “tactic” and “coaching” books will tell you, NEVER GET INTO THE “RED ZONE”.. Well that’s what happend and many tears were spilt into copious amount’s of French Rose’ wine consumed by the “Bear’s” fantastic crew of Dominic Bakker and Antonio Matos,  later that day… 🙂

Meanwhile another of La Baule’s world famous sailor’s, Yves Pajot FRA 303 showed the fleet the correct way to go and was soon well ahead after sailing all the way LEFT! Yes Campers, the tide had turned all over the course, so anyone who ventured out to the right was history. It was Left, Left, Left… Needless to say, Poul-Richard (the Man), proved why he has won so many International and World events (of course not forgetting the Two Gold Medals from 1976 and 1980), by also chosing the correct left side.. His 4th place in this last race was to give him, in the end, a comfortable lead and the deserved title…  So congratulations to PRH and his Irish Dream Team, also to FRA 403 Jean Guillard who finished 2nd and to FRA 409 Gerard Blanc helming his recent Petticrow “Tsuica” into 3rd place overall. Gerard was crewed by Morvan and Pierric Bourbin, also from Cannes. They put together a very consistant series following their race win on day one, well done Gerard and crew,  enjoy your success on the drive back to Cannes….

On Friday evening some lucky competitors were treated to a lottery winning Flight by Bretagne Helecopters of La Baule. My “Birthday Boy” crew Dominique had a front seat trip on this experience of a lifetime, just commenting on his return that next time he would bring his Brown Trousers and Bicycle Clip’s……..

In closing and on behalf of all the sailors and visitors to La Baule can I just thank the President of the Club and all the many helpers, in particular Vice President Dominique Molette, who really made the event run smoothly in this most wonderful sailing venue.

Higher, Faster, Longer…..    Stavros.  (GBR 767).

Some photo’s from La Baule by Cristina Borgogna.