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Hella Marine - NZ - 728 - July

Dragon Gold Cup set for Douarnenez Bay action

by Véronique Guillou Le Bivic on 23 Jul 2013
2013 Gazprom International Dragon Gold Cup Jacques Vapillon et François Van Malleghem
From the 16-24 August, the Gazprom International Dragon Gold Cup will be spectacular and intense in Douarnenez Bay. Spectacular because the Dragon sailors are yachting virtuosi, and intense because the best crews in the world will compete.

Dragon afficionados are in agreement on at least two points : it’s a beautiful boat, elegant and classic but also…a complicated one. A little under 30 feet long, the Dragon is a very technical, extraordinarily finicky keelboat. Despite that, all sailors, young or old, seasoned racers or mere amateurs of classic regattas, love the ageless one-design that survived unscathed through many decades of turmoil and fashion changes.

Carrying a relatively small amount of canvas for its displacement, the Dragon prefers long tacks in a brisk wind. It is not a very fast boat, which means controlling its course and trim is critical. The helmsman must be extremely focussed and attentive, while the two other crew members have to monitor and adjust 32 control points. They are constantly monitoring wind and waves, and fine tuning the various controls accordingly. Through their awareness of the sea, the wind, and the racecourse, and their control over their opponents, the maestros on the Dragon scene make a decisive difference. However, be they winners of the Guyader Grand Prix, the Gold Cup, the European or French trophies, or anonymous Dragon sailors, all partake in the same art of pure regatta that is the essence of Dragon sailing.

The scene is exceptional, the event is global, and the actors are both ! This Gazprom International Gold Cup will not only attract the best crews on the track, but also 'gourmet' sailors who come to enjoy the bay of Douarnenez and the 'Pen Sardin' (Breton nickname for Douarnenez natives, derived from the headdress worn by the sardine canneries workers at the trun of the 20th century) signature atmosphere ashore, and to spend a few days with the stylish family of the Dragon sailors.

Of course the British sailor Laurie Smith will participate, but he won’t be the only great Dragon master on the water, as other fine strategists like Markus Wiezer (Winner of the latest Guyader Grand Prix and several Gold Cups) Tommy Muller 2012 title holder sailing with the fearsome tactician Vincent Hoesch, Remy Arnaud first French world champion in 2009, French champion in 2010 and 2013, and Evgeny Braslavets, Olympics gold medallist in Seoul and Los Angeles, and leader of the three Ukrainian boats, will also be there.

Says Vincent Hoesch 'For me the Gazprom International Dragon Gold Cup is the highlight of the season. I competed in three Gold Cups in Douarnenez, with two wins and a second place. With Tommy and Michi, we are going to be the defending crew during this event, the most important for us in 2013. We are not concerned about the weather, but we prefer medium to strong winds with the great Atlantic waves typical of Douarnenez when the wind blows from the West. We do not fear our opponents either, but we do respect each one of them. Looking at the list of entries, about 20 boats have a chance of winning. The two things never to do during a Gold Cup are false starts and protests. We’ll keep it in mind and do our best' We can count on them for that!

If all will share in the enjoyment and etiquette typical of Dragon sailing, the stakes will be different. Such is the case for Erik Orsenna, who has not raced a Dragon for several years, and relishes his return to Douarnenez. 'I will have with me two men with golden hands, a surgeon and a cabinetmaker. It’s a pleasure to be a part of such a gathering of immense talents, and to reconnect with Douarnenez and its bay, so beautiful, and so hard to decipher! That will make me its best reader.'

Kito de Pavant, ‘Offshore sailor, of course’, will also journey to Douarnenez for the Gazprom International Dragon Gold Cup. Recent holder of the monohull, single handed Mediterranean crossing record, the skipper from Port-Camargue will be just back from the Fastnet race, in which he will sail a 40’ Class boat with Bruno Jourdain. 'I am coming to Douarnenez with my old buddies Christian Charée and Marc Pétrykow, with whom I learned to sail, talk about olden times! They have started an active little group of Dragon sailors in La Grande Motte. We are coming for the fun, not to win, and we do love Douarnenez. The Dragon is a very complicated boat and I don’t quite get it, you’ve got ropes all over the place and when you pull on one, it does not necessarily make you feel you’re going any faster, but anyway it’s a very nice Dragon Gold Cup website
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