Wonderful sailing conditions with a warm westerly wind and unspoilt sunshine greeted the 23 Dragons on the first day of the “Vasco de Gama” sailed in La Rochelle. After two races were completed yesterday afternoon it is the team of Philippe Presti, Dominique Herbrard and Gilles Marchard in FRA 405 that lead overall on 7pts with a 6th and a 1st place. Although in race 1 the battle at the “PIN” end of the line seemed crucial, it was indeed the boats that sailed towards the west (right of the course) that made the huge gains. This was because the wind slowly shifted towards the west, as forecast, during the first beat. This left the strong group of sailors who included POR 66 Jose’ Matoso, a former European Champion, who were on the left side of the course in bad shape. So a break-a-way group of 4 boats from the right dominated the race… RUS 27 Anatoly Loginov made the most of this right hand shift and with his experienced team of Vadim Statsenko, Alexander Shalagin, won the race in style.

In race 2 the wind had settled into a fresh 10 to 12 kts from the west which allowed the sailors to chose either side of the 1.2 mile first beat. On this occasion FRA 405 sailed very well to control the race and eventually take win. In 2nd place overall is FRA 401 helmed by Joseph Varoqui and crewed by Gwen Chapalain and Erwann Le Chat, who recorded a 4th and 6th. Then in 3rd place overall is GBR 769 “Hombre” helmed by Martin Payne, crewed by John Mortimer and Antonio Matos who recorded a 9th and a 2nd.

Over in Holland at the Dutch Nationals, current champion NED 412 Pieter Heerema, crewed by Theis Palm and  Claus Olesen have taken the early lead with a 1st and a 2nd. Right behind are the “Bakkers”, helmed by Father Jan, crewed by Dominic and Olivier who recorded a 3rd and a 1st. Also still in the hunt is the Double Gold Medalist Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen, who is sailing a new boat with Petticrows owner Tim Tavinor and Andrew “Noddy” Norden from Burnham.

Meanwhile in Roschasch, at the Swiss Nationals, lack of wind prevented any racing on day one. We all keep our fingers crossed this will change today…

Higher, Faster, Longer…………   Stavros.  (GBR 769).  ANT 1.