It was another fantastic day of sailing in the bay of Douarnenez for the 48 Dragons competing in the Guyader Grand Prix, with steady winds, surfing waves and even blue skies! In race 5, the first of the day, GER 1133 once again showed a clean pair of heels, when Tommy and his team of Vincent Hoesch and Marc Pickel, gradually eased themselves in front of this excellent fleet.
It’s the “little things” that make all the difference in the Dragons, so when you watch Tommy and his crew start in a big fleet, they first of all, always get clear air. This enables them to hold their lane off the line and let their new Petticrows “Sinewave” dance over the waves and step by step begin to “pop” forward of the boats around them. This is a result of excellent sail trimming, good weight distribution, perfect helming and a tactical awareness. But that’s not all ! No folks, before all this happens you have to put in hours and hours of on the water practice, plus years of knowledge and experience of boat preparation. When you have all of these ingredients you might then have a chance to compete with the best in the world……
Once Tommy had maintained his starboard course for around 7 mins off the line, he was then in a position to tack on the first shift that came from the left. This is so crucial when trying to get a “jump” on the fleet. You can only achieve this if you have pulled forward from the boats around you so that you are free to tack and not get “locked” in like the majority of the boats. Once Tommy and his team had taken this shift they continued with great speed and height up the middle left of the race course. Eventually as they approached the starboard lay line, it was obvious that no one else had managed a more perfect beat, so they rounded the top mark in 1st place.
The photo (above) of them surfing down the waves with their distinctive Blue, Pink and Black “Fritz” spinnaker is a sight to behold. They went on to win this opening race and began to open up a sizeable lead on the rest of the fleet overall. In 2nd place was UAE 8 “Bunker Prince” helmed by Yevgeni Braslavets and 3rd was NED 412 “Troika” helmed by Pieter Heerema.
In race 2 of the day which was the 6th race of the series, it still remained a mystery to me and many other’s, why the PRO was sailing us so close into the shore of this wonderful large and open bay of Douarnenez. Not only had I politely asked him to move the course further out, but several competitors were also showing their frustrations by sailing deeper into the bay whilst waiting for the second start.. In fairness it did not take away the enjoyment or change anything in the results of the race, but it is something that needs to be addressed next year if we are going to maintain and build on the numbers coming year after year to this fantastic arena for sailing…
Anyway, moving on swiftly, having had my say, after a general recall the fleet were eventually underway, under a Black Flag start by around 2pm. This time it was the turn of RUS 76 “Strange Little Girl” helmed by Dmitry Samokhin to show why he has won so many events over the past 4 years. With is excellent tactician Andrey Kirilyuk calling the shots and all 145kg of Russian energy, Aleksey Bushuev hiking over the side, they powered up the first beat.
After holding the lead for two upwinds and then two downwind legs of this 2 mile course, it must have come as a surprise to this fantastic Russian team to lose out at the end to NED 412 “Troika”. But, despite all their efforts Pieter Heerema, crewed by Theis Palm and Claus Olesen never gave up the chase and on the final short 0.5 mile upwind leg to the finish, Pieter clawed his way past Dmitry to take the win…. A great race and memorable finish. Phew…
Following behind Pieter and Dmitry, in 3rd place was again UAE 8, helmed by Yevgeni Braslavets and crewed by Igor Sidorov and Sergiy Timokhov who have now moved into 3rd place overall, an excellent day’s racing for this “Transbunker” team who are now based in Dubai. However, the reason why Tommy Muller cannot start to open the champagne and begin to celebrate is due to a gentleman called Lars Hendriksen… Yes, the DEN 138 team may not have had their best day, but by recording a 8th and a 5th yesterday, can still beat Tommy, mathematically… The way I see it is Lars would have to win today’s final race and Tommy would have to be worse than 7th.. We shall see!
In the battle for the top Corinthian Prize, it’s between to best two French Sailors, Remy Arnaud FRA 396 and Luc Pillot FRA 386. At the moment Remy is 17th overall and Luc 21st, with NED 309 Gus de Groot and GER 1042 Phillip Dohse close behind. So the podium positions will depend on the final race.
In closing the forecast for today is extremely strong winds however, if no further sailing can take place everyone will still leave Douarnenez a happier more enriched person after experiencing a most fabulous week of Dragon Racing at it’s very best……..
(Many thanks once again to Ricardo Pinto for these fabulous action photo’s).
Higher, Faster, Longer……………. Stavros. (GER 1102).