by Soazig Guého
On the conclusive day of the 34th edition of the Regates Royales-Trophee Panerai, the strong winds and heavy rainstorms sweeping the Bay of Cannes put a halt to the competition. The classic yacht fleet with a total 87 entries did however enjoy a whole week of racing in the most varied conditions offering a spectacular show for the public crowding the quay and the bay.
Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai 2012
From over thirty knots or zero wind, from bright sunshine to heavy downpours, millpond flat seas to steep and choppy waves, wind shifts and shining light, but above all, the week will be remembered for the close racing, high-adrenaline mark turnings, packed starts, traffic jams on the finish line, reshuffles and big comebacks... a magnificent show, watching the immense Herreshoff's designed fore and aft gaff cutter Elena (50,71m) flying with all the sails up, the J Class Shamrock V hoisting her huge spinnaker in twenty knots, Mariquita crossing Thendara or Moonbeam, seeing Aloha and Lady Van close upwind or the Pen Duick fleet aligning in a sort of parade of sails.
In the Spirit of Tradition class the battle was fierce among the twenty competitors and especially between the brand new small boats that have stamped their name on the series. On a Dragon hull Jacques Fauroux with a gaff rig that has boosted the 1929 Anker designed boat's performance. Catleya skippered by Fauroux himself and Highlander helmed by Jean-Nicolas Bondaletoff have dominated the regatta, with the exception of the third race, which proved to be too windy for them. Only 6M Nada succeeded in keeping the pace and finishing in third while Sea Lion won Thursday's breezy race.
The Vintage class included old glories from the IOR days such as Sagittarius, Ojala II, Running Tide or the world famous Il Moro di Venezia, and the mythical Pen Duick II and Pen Duick V but it was the1968 Olin Stephens design Arcadia who triumphed over her sister-ship Maria Giovanna 2… Among the big Marconis, with a LOA of over 15 metres, Leonore formerly known as Cottom Blossom II, the Q-Class created by Johan Anker in 1925 beats Skylark, the yawl that made her debut at Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai.
Among their smaller sisters measuring less than 15 metres, Cholita, created in 1937 by Nicholas Potter took the top step on the podium, succeeding in leaving behind Dainty one of the smallest boats competing in Cannes, and Sonda the first 8M designed by Mc Gruer in 1951.
Some of the biggest classic yachts taking part to the Régates Royales de Cannes sport more than 1,200 square metres sail area. And when such boats weighing over 200 tons slam and fly on the choppy sea in twenty knots, sea water spraying set the pace it is not easy for other boats to follow. In the Big Boats, dominated by William Fife's designed yachts, division three boats finish tied at points, after a hard fought series. But, thanks to a double win Thendara, the 1935 gaff ketch signed by Alfred Mylne gets gold followed by Moonbeam of Fife 3 and Moonbeam IV. In fourth place the19M Mariquita while her small sister, the 15mJI Mariska looks to be less at ease in stiff breeze.
Cannes provided perfect conditions also for the Vintage gaffers and the beautifully restored and maintained masterpieces, battled at the highest level for the top spot. Five of them could have jumped to the podium, but finally it was 1896 Camper and Nicholson's Avel to get gold followed by Bona Fide and Nan of Fife, the oldest classic yacht designed by William Fife III still sailing. On Sunday at around noon some fifty crews who took part to the 34th Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai will leave Cannes on the feeder race to Saint-Tropez.
Overall results Régates Royales-Trophée Panerai 2012:
1-Avel (Chris Austin) 7 points
2-Bona Fide (Beppe Zaoli) 8 points
3-Nan of Fife (Philippe Menhinick) 9 points
1-Thendara (Markus Schweiger) 6 points
2-Moonbeam of Fife 3 (Erwan Noblet) 6 points
3-Moonbeam IV (Mickaël Créac’h) 6 points
1-Leonore (Brad Swain) 3 points
2-Skylark of 1937 (Tony Morse) 9 points
3-Mercury (Jordi Cabau) 14 points
1-Cholita (Bruno Roma) 4 points
2-Dainty (Mike Hollis) 8 points
3-Sonda (Pascal Borel) 9 points
Spirit of Tradition:
1-Catleya (Jacques Fauroux) 3 points
2-Highlander (JN Bonaletoff) 6 points
3-Nada (Marcus Fitzgerald) 12 points
1-Arcadia (Raphaël Coldefy) 4 points
2-Maria Giovanna 2 (Jean-Pierre Sauvan) 11 points
3-White Dolphin (Yann Delplace) 13 points
Regates Royales website