20140530_Vascogama_02212          La Rochelle is preparing for the Top Dragon Sailors from all over the World..

With just a few days to go before 84 dragons line up for the 1st race of the 2015 World Championships, the final preparations are being made in La Rochelle to make this a fantastic event. In the 3 days that I have been here so far, the conditions have been amazing, with sunshine and medium (12 to 14kt) sea breezes, a Dragon Sailors dream.

Some of the Australian Teams have arrived early to recover from their “jet-lag” and settle in to either a charter boat or for some, their 2nd boat that is kept in Europe. One of the visiting Australians is none other than 89 year old Gordon Ingate, who is currently the Australian National Champion. Gordon is a vastly experienced sailor who has seen it all in his time including America’s Cup and Olympic Campaign’s, he told me the last time he visited La Rochelle was in 1972 sailing a Tempest.  So lets keep an eye on Gordon this week as he is a true inspiration to us all..

2015-01-09-Whimsical-G-Ingate-00196 (2)89 yrs “young” Gordon Ingate from Australia will be competing this week in La Rochelle.

Over the last couple of weeks the current World Champion, Klaus Diederichs has been practicing here, coached by his 2013 winning crew Andy Beadsworth. Unfortunately, Andy cannot join Klaus this time due to commitments in the popular TP 52 class, so Klaus will be defending his title with a different team this time.   Also practicing hard last week back in Weymouth was 2011 World Champion, Lawrie Smith who is crewed by Tim Tavinor, Petticrows owner and very much an integral part of the International Dragon Circuit. Lawrie will be looking to take back his crown that he won in Melbourne with Tim, 4 years ago…

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Lawrie Smith will be one of the favourites to take the World Title in La Rochelle next week.

One of the “In Form” teams at the moment are UAE 20 helmed by Hendrik Witzmann, having won two Grade 1 events already this year, this new PCT Team from Dubai are going to be hard to beat…  I recently spoke to Hendrik in Douarnenez and will be featuring a “Blog” on the new Dragon Builders in Dubai very soon. Lets see how these new boats perform against the very best in the world next week…

RP_150410_KJCT_4530 (640x426)The PCT “Boys” in action winning their first grade 1 event down in Cascais earlier this year.

Another team very much in form are the RUS 27 trio on board “Annapurna”, owned and helmed by Anatoloy Loginov, this exciting, well drilled team have just finished ahead of the 52 boats in La Baule, taking the French Championship and also won here in La Rochelle last year in the Vasco de Gamma series… certainly a team to look for in the overall standings next week.

RP_150326_Sanremo_4184 (640x428)Anatoloy Loginov with Vadim Statsenko and Alexander Shalagin, winners in La Baule.

Then of course, no Championship could be complete without the great Markus Wieser !! Markus has no doubt been the most successful Dragon Sailor in the past few years, dominating the big events and will start as favourite for this title…  Sailing in one of the new PCT boats, he will be joined by Transbunker owner Sergey Pugachev and loyal crew Georgii Leonchuk.

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Markus sailing at his very best….as they so often do…

So fellow sailors and regular readers of my “Blogs” can you pick a winner…  With top German teams including Vincie Hoesch and Danish Teams that include Jens Christensen and Lars Hendriksen…  who can do the business ?

It is certainly too close to call, but one thing is for sure, one team will be lifting that coveted Trophy at the end of next week, so keep checking the results and I will endeavour to keep you updated with the latest news and action as I too will be joining in the fun, in the sun in La Rochelle….

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