A tricky day for the 120 plus boats competing in the 32th edition of Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai with an ever changing wind direction that made the skippers‘ and the tacticians‘ work hard.
Yesterday’s shining sun gave way to dark grey clouds, fat raindrops and strong gusts that could but not spoil the pleasure of the thousand plus sailors competing in Cannes.
A true ship portrait
The show was impressive and resembled an old, faded ship portrait from the 19th century. Fifty-eight big boats and the huge three masts Atlantic, their large white sails a sharp contrast to the grey horizon, crossed the Bay of Cannes for the pleasure of the many spectators who defied the weather to see them sail. Despite the light air the Committee was able to set a coastal course of around fifteen miles with the beautiful scenery of the city of Cannes and the Iles de Lerins in the background.
The Classic Yachts divisions started racing in the early afternoon accompanied by a sweet northerly breeze. But while the first group enjoyed a stable wind for the first hour or so on the coastal race, the rest of the fleet faced a much more troubled time. When the northerly was blowing, pouring rain was covering the bay, but when it veered north-westerly later, sky cleared and sun almost shined…and finally, the day ended with a north-easterly breeze in late afternoon! Not an easy task for tacticians and skippers indeed.
Tomorrow’s the day
Among the Classic Marconi, Chaplin representing the Italian Navy, looks to be well positioned to repeat last year’s success in Cannes despite the fact that today they had to give way to their countrymen on Emeraude. A similar fight is to be seen in the bigger Classic Marconi division where Florence Urrutti’s Sagittarius has one point lead on the Spanish Guia. In the Marconi B group nobody seems to be able to stop Jonathan Greenwood’s Rowdy to get on the highest step of the podium, the British flagged boat having a good seven points advantage on Oiseau de Feu and nine on Mercury. From the UK is aso coming the Marconi C group leader, that is to say Brad Swain’s Leonore, that will have to be particularly wary of the German crew on Anne Sophie and the Italians on Cholita, who follow at one and two points respectively.
Among the Gaffers Olive Pelham’s Kelpie got a precious second place today that place her on top of the rankings but surely tomorrow’s fight with Francis Van de Velde’s Oriole and Giuseppe Giordano’s Bonafide will be decisive. Despite a poor fifth place Moonbeam of Fife skippered by Erwan Noblet is still leading among the Big Boats, whilst the two 15M Mariska and Mariquita are tied in points and well ahead of Yacht Club de Monaco’s herald Tuiga.
Among the Spirit of Tradition Speedbird has a clear 1,1,1 score and a huge lead on Pitch and Ilhabela.
Dragons to the last tack
The sixty Dragons left the harbour the Vieux Port, in perfect time to reach the race area under torrential rain and a very shifty breeze. The Race Committee nonetheless managed to set a course hoping to have three races. As it happens for the first one (the seventh) the wind was steady enough for the crews to complete, while for the second and third attempt the continuous shifts forced the PRO to hoist the A flag.
As usual for the class, racing was very close and the crews fought to the last tack to get precious point for the final scoreboard.
The provisional leader is still the Russian crew of Annapurna, skippered by class specialist and reigning champion at the Régates Royales Anatoly Longinov who, despite a seventh today, managed to fend off the attacks from a couple of very dangerous competitors such as Ivan Bradbury on Blue Haze and Lawrie Smith on Alfie, both from Great Britain. But nothing is for sure yet as the three hoping to jump on the podium are separated only by 12 points. In fourth tied at points are Austrian Carlos Loos on Happy Island and Swiss Ulli Libor on Sui Generis.
Racing will resume tomorrow, both for the Classics and the Dragons, that hopefully will be windy enough to celebrate a much deserved grand finale of the 32th edition of Cannes Régates Royales – Throphée Panerai.