Régates Royales - Trophée Panerai - A superb show on opening day

Opening day - Régates Royales – Trophée Panerai 2011
Alexis Courcoux / Régates Royales
Régates Royales - Trophée Panerai 2011, organised by Yacht Club de Cannes, is being held from 19th to 25th September in Cannes.

It was Cote d’Azur at its best for the opening day of the 33rd edition of the event. A bright sun, a good southerly breeze later veering south-westerly and flat sea were on the menu on the stunning Bay of La Napoule.

As tradition in Cannes, the classic yachts offered a superb show to the many spectators’ boats and to the public that crowded the beaches on a warm late summer day. The fleet sailed in the area just off the Lerins Islands, on a twenty and twelve mile long coastal course, for the Big Boats and the other classics respectively. Among the Big Boats it was Chris Barkham’s Cambria to cross in first, followed by Moonbeam IV and Moonbeam of Fife III while James Thom’s Mariquita came in fourth. Nan of Fife, Avel and Oriole were on the top three spots in the Classic gaffers class. Stella Polare, the ketch representing the Italian Navy won among the Classics, leaving behind the French couple White Dolphin and Arcadia. Reigning champion in the Marconi class, Rowdy confirmed her supremacy, coming in front of The Blue Peter and US flagged Manitou at her absolute debut in the Régates Royales. Leonore, Anne Sophie and Harlekin respectively jumped on the provisional podium among the smaller Marconi class. And finally, it was Ireland’s Shamrock V to beat Gaulois and Grey One in the Spirit of Tradition division.

Opening day - Régates Royales – Trophée Panerai 2011
Alexis Courcoux / Régates Royales

A jaguar among the Dragons
After they could not go out on the water yesterday because of the strong, gusty typical Mistral breeze, the 58 boat strong Dragon fleet had three windward/leeward races on Tuesday starting in a 12 knots south-westerly, that progressively increased during the afternoon hours, topping 20 knots. Competition was strong as usual for the top positions and the class champions imposed their supremacy. The first two races went both to Ireland’s Martin Byrne on Jaguar Bear who managed to get the better of reigning champion and class master Anatoly Longinov on Annapurna and on multiple class winner Danish Poul Richard on Antigua’s flagged Danish Blue on the first one. A nearly clean score for the Irish skipper who was third in the last race of the day won by Ian Bradbury on Blue Haze. HRH Prince Heinrik of Denmark’s had a very positive first day with a sixth, a second and a fourth. With five points, the Irish team is then securely on top of the provisional podium, in front of HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark (13 points) and the Russian crew skippered by Anatoly Loginov (16 points).

A Lion heart…
J Class boats were born back in 1930 when the famous Universal Rule was created that limited the new boats hull length between 75 and 87 feet. First boat to be launched was Shamrock V, designed and built by Charles Nicholson for the famous tea trader Sir Thomas Lipton. Shortly after, for the 1937 America’s Cup edition, Defender Harold Vanderbilt asked designers W. Starling Burgess and Olin Stephens to produce a new J Class to race against Charles Nicholson’s Endeavour II and the two architects conceived Ranger and Lionheart, yet only the first one ever saw the light. Ranger won easily against the British Challenger but was also the last J class to be built.

Actually, only ten boats from this class (six in the USA and four in Great Britain) ever sailed and some were only used as cruising boats. Today the fleet is down to three units: Endeavour, Velsheda and Shamrock V, as Ranger is a replica built in 2003. Another ten J Class only existed on paper, as it is the case of Lionheart’s design. As a matter of fact, the boat was built in aluminium by Dutch shipyard Hoek, and launched in 2010.

The Pajot brothers are in Cannes
Flying Dutchman silver Olympic medallists in Kiel in 1972, the Pajot brothers are in Cannes to race Karenita, the 1929 John Alden design built by Georges Lawley and Sons in Massachusetts. The ketch rigged boat was became world famous when it was bought by Hollywood star Errol Flynn in 1936 and renamed Sirocco, she is now based in Saint-Tropez.

Régates Royales website