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Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Grand Prix Guyader - A theater of unusual encounters

by Véronique Guillou Le Bivic on 10 May 2013
2013 Grand Prix Guyader Francois Van Malleghem http://www.pixsail.com/
On any outing to the Grand Prix Guyader village, located in the port of Tréboul, you are likely to cross the paths of eminent personalities from the world of sailing. Names like François Gabart, Franck Cammas, Armel Le Cléac'h Lemonchois and many others during the Défi Nauticand Bruno Peyron, Markus Wieser, Luc Pillot or Jimmy Pahun when the Dragons come into play.

Others are less known to the general public, but equally brilliant. Such as David Howlett who is currently resident in Tréboul to coach crew Marcus Brennecke, sailing Billy Boy (GER 11); a team that is sparking excitement in the Dragon fleet from the outset of the Grand Prix. David is also the coach of Ben Ainslie, the man who holds four Olympic gold (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) and one silver medal (1996), making him the sailor with the most Olympic medals in the history of sailing who we have become used to seeing every four years on the top step of the Olympic Games. Ben is now racing in the America's Cup World Series (ACWS), the preliminary step to Louis Vuitton, then the America's Cup. That's all!

David Howlett, is not the only eminence grise of the Grand Prix Guyader, there are at least four with the Russian and Ukrainian teams. Among these discrete but prominent figures is Ukrainian Ruslana Taran, whose successes in the 470 class are legendary and include winning the World Championship in 1997, 1998 and 1999, claiming the European Championship in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 and becoming Olympic bronze medallist twice in 1996 and 2000. She then went on to take the silver medal in the Yngling in 2004. Ruslana is also the only woman to have won the Dragon Gold Cup which she claimed in 2009. This week she is with the Russian crew of 'Just for fun' (RUS 32).

Obviously, given the readiness of the crews now entering the 15th edition of the Grand Prix, the prowess of the event is unarguable!

'The level is huge,' confirms Thomas Bacchini sailing on Ar Prim (FRA 395). 'It comes from everywhere, the boat, the venue, the teams ... and that's what makes or breaks the Grand Prix. This diversity of backgrounds and cultures. Everyone has their own idea of how to do better than others and at the end of the ball we count the waltzes ..' For the crew led by Cyrille Vernes the goal is simple: advance every day and try to enter the top 30. They are waiting for the end of the ball, but after three dances they are 41st overall in the provisional rankings and hopeful to improve.

Yves Léglise, president of the international jury of the Grand Prix Guyader and many other races, says he knows nothing comparable to this event: 'In addition to an exceptional sports field, what happens here is also unique in its configuration. Geographically, the event is very compact. So, in the regatta village at the center of life in the Grand Prix, we'll see and meet, sailors, jury, organizers, and volunteers. I know nothing that is the equivalent, nor as friendly!'

For competitors, before tasting this festive and friendly atmosphere at the Grand Prix, they must of course go racing. They are the actors of the event. And today, 180 Dragonists were well 'flushed' by their day's racing. The wind was blowing hard at well over 20 knots with big shifts and even bigger seas, making for a tough battle in the bay of Douarnenez! Gérard Le Goff, sailing with Bruno Peyron (FRA 36), even fell into the water and the team had to stop their race to rescue him. Race Officer Philippe Faure eventually decided to return all his flock to the fold after a single race. The race was won by Anatoly Loginov (RUS 27), with Yevgen Braslavets (UKR 1178) second and Marcus Brennecke (GER 11) third. In the overall standings, it is this German team, coached by the famous David Howlett, that holds the overall lead after the first three races of the Grand Prix Guyader Dragon.

The fleet of the Barquera, which left Spain yesterday, did not cross the finish line in Douarnenez as planned, but on a line set to the south west of Raz de Sein. The race director had wisely decided to shorten the course because of bad weather. 'Tonight a depression from England, will arrive on our shores and the sea will be high to very high in Iroise and the Raz de Sein, which, with a heavy swell and cross seas will turn the race course into a minefield,' says François Séruzier. 'The depression is expected to arrive precisely when the first boats should reach this area, so we have shortened course and created a virtual line further south to avoid danger. From the finish they will then head to the port of their choice in the south of Racing Grand Prix Guyader website

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