Royals in Monaco

A heady mix of Dragons and the European racing debut for the Melges 20 at the opening weekend of the Primo Cup

Monday February 9th 2009, Author: Isabelle Andrieux, Location: United Kingdom
Dragons from the four corners of Europe descended on Monaco this weekend to celebrate 80 years of the Dragon class on the first weekend of the Primo Cup, which ended on a beautiful sunny day with a brisk 15 knot breeze.

In total 13 nationalities, including around 15 teams from eastern Europe took part in the Dragon class, alongside other one designs such as the Esse 850s, sailing for the first time, as well as the Melges 20s for whom the Primo Cup was the first official regatta.

“A big thank you to the Yacht Club de Monaco for this initiative to celebrate 80 years of the Dragon, a series close to my heart, by organising this special event for the occasion!” commented HSH Prince of Denmark whose boat White Lady won the last race of the day.

As this year is also 25 years since HSH Prince Albert II became President of the Yacht Club de Monaco, the Primo Cup invited other crowned heads including HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark, HRH Prince Serge of Yugoslavia, HSH Prince of Strongoli and HSH Prince Charles of Bourbon-Siciles, victorious in the Smeralda 888 class.

Five races per class (except for the Dragons) were held throughout the weekend in unusually wintery, sometimes difficult conditions (over 1.5m swell, hail stones and stormy gusty winds).

Dragon (43 participants): a Slavonic wave

An eleven-strong Russian presence dominated the Dragon class this year at the Primo Cup. Their teams were extremely well organised and logistically on top form. They were composed by former champions such as Russian Alexander Muzychenko (Olympic champion in 1980) and Ekaterina Skudina (world champion in 1998 and selected for Qingdao). But it was Anatoly Loginov ( Annapurna) who proved the most consistent to win the event ahead of the Dane Jens Christensen ( Men at work) and who received a Hublot watch presented by Princess Camilla de Bourbon-Siciles.

Chris Dicker (Kuling), President of the international class and representing the Royal Yacht Squadron, put in a great performance, completing the podium.

The level was high and competition fierce which led to several collisions during the starts, Electra lost her mast on the final day when she failed to give way. Regarding the results, the fact that Thomas Müller was 7th, and that Markus Wieser, victorious in 2008, only managed 22nd this year after he was disqualified today for a premature start, shows just how intense the competition was and the quality of the teams.

Melges 20: Fast is fun!

For their first official regatta, there were nine Italian teams proving the attraction of this boat. Fast is fun! should be the motto of the Melges 20 boats which proved to be very fast and easy to sail. Quick to react in the light winds and planing with ease in the lightest breeze, this one-design required a lot of acrobatics from its crew.

They impressed other sailors as the crew aft were constantly shifting their position to keep the boat planning, like co-pilots in a side-car.

Benedetto Gialongo ( Value Team) won overall thanks to his win in the last race, ahead of Filippo Pacinotti ( Brontolo). Only two points separated the pair.

Claudio Recchi, the man who brought the Melges 20 to Monaco, finished 3rd overall having been 3rd in all the races.

Melges 24: victory for the French

It’s not often that you see a French team triumph in such an international Melges 24 competition. Congratulations therefore to Maxime Paul on Marsail 1, who repeated his winning performance of last year’s Primo Cup. A well-deserved victory as he won all the races.

This series is preparing for the European Championship in Hyères, and was delighted to welcome Kito de Pavant ( ), happy to return to racing after his sad dismasting at the start of the last Vendée Globe.

Esse 850: Swiss sensation…

Given that this was the first time this one-design had been sailed on the sea, the boat proved to be as good on salt water as in the lakes. And while competitors took a while to get used to the Mediterranean swell, the talented racers quickly found their targets.

It was the Swiss Charles Fabre ( Chantier Naval de Vichy) who won the event ahead of series leader Daniel Schroff ( 4 Venti) and Alain Marchand ( Otto Cinque), a Primo Cup regular who has won numerous times on his Surprise.

Surprise: most loyal after 25 years

It came as no surprise that the Swiss CER 1 Implenia, helmed by former Tour Voile winner Etienne David, flew round the course. “It was our diligent preparation that made the difference. We were able to distance ourselves from the rest of the fleet thanks to the efficiency of the CER crew from Geneva, the result of our training on two boats before the Primo Cup. Monaco was our first meeting of the season, a great start for us on a complex course from a tactics point of view,” commented Etienne David of the Société Nautique de Genève, for whom the main objective this year is once against Tour de France à la Voile.

Olympic, skippered by Roberto Spata, was always up there at the starts and at the marks and finished second on the podium with a race win.

Smeralda 888: victory for Monaco

With ten out of the 11 teams coming from the Yacht Club de Monaco, it was inevitable that the Principality would dominate. Not so predictable was the fact that it was Prince Charles de Bourbon-Siciles, President of the class, who won three of the five races, with François Brenac as tactician. “I am very proud of this victory, because we have been trying to lift this title for the last four years with this team,” declared a delighted Prince Charles de Bourbon-Siciles.

After the Princes weekend, it’s time for the Stars of Sailing! From Tuesday six more classes and all their crews will descend on Port Hercule and the Bay of Monaco to prepare for the second and final weekend.

Final results after two races

Dragon - (43 participants)
1 : Annapurna Anatoly Loginov (5 pts) Russia
2 : Men at Work Jens Christensen (12 pts) Denmark
3 : Kuling Christopher Dicker (13 pts) England

Final rankings after five races

Melges 20 – (9 participants)
1 : Value Team Benedetto Gialongo (10 pts) Italy
2 : Brontolo Filippo Pacinotti (13 pts) Italy
3 : Team 93 Claudio Recchi (17 pts) Italy

Melges 24 – (8 participants)
1 : Marsail 1 Paul Maxime (7 pts) France
2 : . Chekhaltyy Ivan (16 pts) Ukraine
3 : Zero Eight Michael Good (19 pts) Switzerland

Surprise (27 participants)
1 : Cer 1 Implenia (9 pts) Switzerland
2 : Eri Olympic Roberto Spata (17 pts) Switzerland
3: Cer III Aeroport international de Geneve Jerome Clerc (18 pts) Switzerland

Smeralda 888 (11 participants)
1 : Vamos Mi Amor Bourbon Charles (11 pts) Monaco
2 : Botta Dritta Miani Adalberto (12 pts) Monaco
3 : Ads Glen Alderico Paganini (16 pts) Monaco

Esse 850 (14 participants)
1 : Chantier Naval de Clichy Charles Fabre (9 pts) Switzerland
2 : 4 Venti Schroff Daniel (12 pts) Switzerland
3 : Otto Cinque Marchand Alain (15 pts) Germany

More photos on the following pages...

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