There is an intangible quality about the French way of life. Apply this distinctive and attractive quality to a Dragon sailing regatta in southern Brittany and you have the perfect sailing backdrop.
La Baule is a classic French seaside town stretched along an eight-mile beach, intersected at its Western end with a small harbour stretched along a river with a tide that, at its peak races in and out, at a rate that often exceeds 4 knots.
Yacht club La Baule sits astride the river and the beach with a vista commanding wonderful views across the bay. At low tide the navigational challenge to both exit and enter the harbour is clear to see. At the lowest point of the tide, a sand bar straddles the exit to the channel and both port and starboard channel markers stand proud of the sand.
Race courses were controlled by an efficient race officer and were set two to three miles out into the bay in wind conditions which rarely exceeded 12 knots. Radio communications were in French, but race signals were clear and races when wind allowed were sailed in rapid succession. Tide and significant wind shifts made for a highly tactical event, a quick grasp of which provided a near guarantee of a leading position.
31 Dragons, four from Burnham, competed in 8 races, run over three days (one on day one, four on day two, three on day three), day four was lost as the wind failed to materialise.
Contrary to the boat name Storm, helmed by Jono Brown, quickly mastered the light conditions with finishing positions ranging from 2nd to 12th, in spite of a badly torn spinnaker in race seven.
Ian Gray's Scorpio form improved as the regatta entered its closing stages. Had racing been run over day four, the team's late form could have seen the Scorpio team achieve a top 10 placing.
PageBoy XI helmed by Clive Page had a promising start achieving a 5th in race two but the fickle conditions or maybe the swimming lessons Graham Page took in the harbour, took their toll in the latter half of the event.
Team Hands Off, helmed by Andy Moss managed to stay in front of the sole Medway boat, OCD helmed by Christopher Brealy and enjoyed their first foray into Europe.
RCYC results and teams were:
- Jonathan Brown
- David Brown
- Lynette Brown
- Frederick Brown
- Ian Gray
- Rene Nel
- Alex Burnett
19th PageBoys X1
- Clive Page
- Graham Page
- Rory Page
22nd Hands Off (Lady Leigh)
- Andy Moss
- Nigel Cole
- Leigh Turvey
Andrew Moss and Leigh Turvey