RUS 34 “Even Better” helmed by Vassiliy Senatorov and crewed by Alex Myzichenko & Igor Ivashintson won the Allianz Dragon Grand Prix in Cannes yesterday in a dramatic final race that eventually saw the strongest wind of the week. The experienced Race Officer Philippe Faure, kept all 65 Dragons waiting for almost three hours before finally deciding the light southerly breeze had settled enough to give the eagerly awaiting fleet a fair final race….. He knew that the cut off time for a start was scheduled for 2.30pm so it was the correct decision to wait. Unfortunately, shortly after the start an even stronger line of wind came in from the right hand side of the course, which immediately dashed the hopes of nearly half the boats that started towards the “Pin End” of the long start line. Amongst those that chose to start towards the left-hand end of the line was regatta leader GBR 716 Gavia Wilkinson-Cox and her crew Mark Hart and Christian Videbaer in her new Petticrow Jerboa. It was to prove costly.

As the fleet started under a Black Flag at around 2.00pm the port hand end of the line still looked favoured and those of us that made a clean air start (including Gavia) were soon looking to cash in our advantage and cross the fleet. But in less than two minutes the stronger pressure from the right-hand side “kicked” in and crossing on port tack was history….  However, RUS 35 “Sunflower” helmed by Victor Fogelson and crewed by Oleg Khopersky and Vyacheslav Kaptiukin were launched out of the middle of the line and were able to quickly take the short port tack advantage before then gaining a jump on the fleet from the strong right-hand side pressure. This gave them a comfortable lead at the first windward mark and they never looked back…. as they went on to win this final race.

Also making a good gain from this right-hand favourable shift was ITA 56 “Cloud” helmed by Gluseppe Duca who sailed brilliantly to take 2nd place is this race, his best result of the week and moved up to 6th overall. Well done… So the battle was on for the top overall places and with Gavia struggling to recover from the early set back, all the top 5 placed teams before the race had a chance to take the title….  This was what RUS 34 had hoped for and Vassiliy knew a top 10 finish in this final race would now give him the victory, indeed he was able to maintain his excellent standard shown throughout the series and he crossed the finish line in 7th position, and the crown was his! (But still no sign of the Blonde Wig he wore in race 1)…….

Meanwhile MON 9 helmed by Malte Phillip and crewed by Michael Kurtz and Efe Kuyumcu (who had been in the runners up spot prior to the last race), were also struggling to break out of the 20’s and finish the 3 places clear of Gavia that they needed to beat her overall. Malte also must have realised that the two front running Russian boats were now also a threat, so his task became even tougher.. In the end his 19th position was just enough to give him 3rd overall, as RUS 35’s fantastic race win gave Victor the unexpected runner’s up spot of this fantastic event……  GER 1099 helmed by Marcus Brenneke and crewed by the “Bavarian Dream Team” Hoesch & Lip finished strongly to also pip Gavia, who in the end had to settle for a very well deserved 5th place disappointed but not disheartened.

And so it finished.  RUS 34 1st,  RUS 35 2nd,  MON 9 3rd,  GER 1099 4th,  GBR 716 5th,  ITA 56 6th…..

In closing I would like to thank the sponsors and all the helpers/volunteers of the Yacht Club de Cannes, for putting on such a great regatta. The idea of setting up the tent and headquarters near to the Old Port of Cannes was a success which meant the on and off the water activities were enjoyed by all. The efficient double craning out at Port Canto went well and the club can pride themselves on the professional way they organised this Grade 1 event… The 65 participating boats show how well Jean-Pierre Gailes and his team have worked to promote Dragon sailing over the past 10 years, it is always a joy to sail against tough competition in the Mediterranean Sun in February !!!!!!!

Higher, Faster, Longer…………   Stavros.  (GBR 375).