A classic invasion

A big triangular course in the bay of La Napoule for the smaller classics; two rounds in the Gulf of Cannes for the bigger ones; two windward/leeward races for the Dragons close to Juan les Pins and three matches for the 12 Metres off the Lérins Islands: the Règates Royales invaded the Cote d'Azur, offering a stunning show to the many spectators crowding the beaches.

One needed to be everywhere at the right time to watch the multiple fights of the 38th edition of the Régates Royales today. The 75 classics and the 6 Tofinou criss-crossed the bay to cover the big triangular coastal course. The three 12 Metres, all once owned by Baron Bich, had their first ever encounter since 1970: France designed by André Mauric, Chancegger created by American architect Britton Chance and Sovereign, the Twelve representing the UK in 1964. And finally, 50 Dragons had two intense races close to the peninsula of Juan les Pins, where international crews tried to break the Russian monopoly on top of the scoreboard.

The big fight

It was not easy, even for the cunning and experienced international crews in the Dragon class, to find the best tactical call today to disentangle from the group and get into the lead in such a light and shifty breeze. After yesterday's Russian domination, today it was yet another Russian crew to shine on the water: Convergence skippered by Mikhail Senatorov. His compatriot Vasaliy Senetorov on Even Better took third, behind Finland's Christian Borenius on Thouban. The overall results, as a consequence, were considerably shook up with  yesterday's leader Dmitry Samokhin on Melody Nelson falling down to 32nd and Denmark's  Soeren Pehrsson on Blue Lady getting a disappointing 30th.

The fourth race (the second for the day) changed the leaderboard once again with Estonia's Vitamine-One (Mimkel Kosk-Niklas Jansson, Viljo Vetik) in first place, followed by Germany's Smaug (Nicola Friesen, Vincent Hoesch, Michael Lipp) and France's Ar Youleg (Christian Guyader, Gwen Chapalain, Erwann Le Chat). At the end of the day, the Russians on Even Better were back on the saddle with 9 points, in front of the Germans on Smaug with 10 andfollowed by two more crews from Russia: Melody Nelson at 13 points and Annapurna at 16 points. With three more days and at least six races to go nothing is carved in stone.

Match-racing style

Slightly more offshore in the Juan gulf, the 12 Metre racing had an air of nostalgia to it with the three boats once owned by legendary baron Bich meeting for the first time since 1970: Chancegger, Sovereign and France. The three crews fought hard, alternating at the lead and looking for every shift and puff. After three matches Sovereign, the oldest boat on the water, came out on top with two victories, followed by France that won the last match of the day and Chancegger in third.

Young guns on top

The 75 classics raced on a big triangular course in the bay of La Napoule for the joy of the many spectators on the beaches and at sea. In about 10 knots of shifting easterly to south-easterly breeze, the bigger boats sailed twice around and the smaller ones once. Not an easy race course to read, but apparently the best tactical option was to keep inshore and close to Cannes. It was hard work for all the crews, hoisting and taking down huge spinnakers, balloon spinnakers, genoas and jibs...

At the front, a real match-race between Cambria (23 metres long, design William Fife III dating from 1928) and the huge Elena (55 metres, a replica of Nathanaël Herreshoff 's original from 1910) took place, but this year the “Big Boats” series was revived by the newcomers   Puritan, Sincerity, Sumurun and several more. Behind them gaffers clashed with classics, one-tonners, Admirals' Cup boats or Marconi rigged boats, designed by the some of the biggest stars of all times: Nathanaël Herreshoff, Charles Nicholson, Olin Stephens, Clinton Crane, Arthur Tiller, Sparkman & Stephens, François Camatte, William Fife, Eugène Cornu, Henry Rasmussen…