La Baule Dragon Derby

»«Monday 4th June 2018

The Derby Dragon in La Baule has become an annual pilgrimage for a number of the Burnham dragons, and despite the earlier than usual regatta dates, this year was no exception. After rigging and launching in sunshine on Tuesday, the racing began in earnest on Wednesday. RCYC certainly made their presence felt on the first day, with Scorpio’s (Ian Gray, Alex Burnett and Rene Nel) port hand start giving them a win in the first race, Storm (the Brown family plus Ben Harden) winning the second, and Pageboy XI (Clive and Graham with Paul Taylor) completing the hat trick by winning the third and final race of the day. 

After a tow out of harbour and a gentle sail to the starting area on day 2, the wind dropped and boats drifted down tide or kedged during a long wait before for breeze filled and stayed in the same direction for long enough to get a race started. Race 4 and 5 were eventually sailed in a change of tide and light, shifty conditions with Danish Blue (Poul Hoj Jensen, Chris Brittain and Katie Cole) finishing 4th in race 4. After losing a good lead in race 4 by not spotting the newly laid mark, RCYC sailor, Geoff Butcher, sailing on Aldeburgh boat Basilisk had some compensation with a 3rd in race 5. A very pleasant ‘crew dinner’ followed on Thursday evening with singing (some good, some not) and dancing afterwards. 

The fleet was towed out again on Friday morning for what proved to be a very challenging day for the race officer - start 1 was a general recall, start 2 (under a black flag) was abandoned at the first mark due to a wind shift, start 3 was abandoned with 2 minutes of the sequence to go, and start 4 became our only race of the day, or should that be half a race as it was shortened after a single beat and run as the holes in the wind were joining forces. 

While Saturday morning started with a bit of breeze, by midday we had limp flags, thunder and a torrential downpour sufficient to flood the yacht club basement. We could just about hear the race officer over the drumming on the marquee roof when he called off racing in favour of early craning. This left Storm in 2nd overall, Danish Blue in 4th and Pageboy XI in 5th. Well done to the RCYC sailors, and thanks as always to YCLB for their excellent hospitality.

René Nel