This is the claim being made for the 75-year Anniversary regatta of the International Dragon Class, at which an astonishing total of 250 boats are expected to cross the start line in the Bay of St Tropez in October.
Sponsored by Hanseatic Lloyd and promoted as a 'Celebration Regatta' rather than a championship, the event was originally expected to attract around 150 boats from European countries but has met with an overwhelmingly favourable response with entries pouring in from 31 countries. The Chairman of the Organising Committee, Chris DICKER says "We have now been forced to close the list with enquiries still coming in. We have confirmed slightly over 250 entries in the expectation that a few will drop out and we will end up with very close to 250 boats on the water."
For most of the races, which begin on Monday 11 October and conclude on Saturday 16, the fleet will be divided into five groups but for the Anniversary Race on Thursday 14, the entire fleet will start together. Not many clubs could even consider organising such a spectacular event but the Société Nautique de St Tropez (SNST) has unique experience thanks to the Voiles de St Tropez and other major events that they stage each year.
The entry list is extraordinary: twelve members of European Royalty have accepted to be Honorary Patrons and at least four are expected to take part in the racing. His Majesty King Constantine, who is President of the International Dragon Association, the International Sailing Federation, and an Olympic Gold Medallist, His Royal Highness, Prince Henrik of Denmark, IDA Vice-President and a regular competitor in Dragon events, and His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain who competes at the highest level in sailing events and His Majesty King Carl Gustav of Sweden have all indicated that they will participate in some if
not all of the races.
Apart from King Constantine, several other Olympic Medallists are entered: Poul-Richard HOJ-JENSEN, Valdemar BANDOLOWSKI, both Soling gold medallists and Peder LUNDE from Norway who took gold in the Flying Dutchman in 1960, the same year that Prince Constantine (as he then was) won the Dragon gold. Ulli LIBOR who won silver in the Flying Dutchman in 1968 is one of several stars from the past who have returned to top-level sailing via the Dragon. Jacques ROGGE, Chairman of the International Olympic Committee who raced in the Moth and Finn classes and also competed in the Olympics will be able to relax in St Tropez after the heavy responsibilities of Athens. In today's Hall of Fame there is no higher standing than winner of the America's Cup so it will be fascinating to see how Russell COUTTS, the unchallenged master of one-against-one racing and a gold medallist, will fare in such a huge fleet.
The main part of the fleet - as near to 215 boats as possible - will be divided into four groups which will compete against each other alternately to produce 'gold', 'silver' and 'bronze' fleets for the final races. In addition, about 35 'classic' dragons, built prior to 1972, will race in their own group. The entire fleet will race together in a Grand 75th Anniversary Race on October 14. The Dragon Class is famous for its social events and it goes without saying that not a single evening will be wasted, the highlight being the Anniversary dinner and dance on Thursday evening.