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18 August 2005, 10:09 am
BEKATOROU Draws Strength From Victory Over DICKSON
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Dream Race 2005
Mykonos, Greece

Russell COUTTS (NZL) won the ISAF Grade 3 Dream Race Mykonos, defeating Francesco BRUNI's (ITA) Luna Rossa (ITA) team 2-0 in a light wind final. The event was organized by Sofia BEKATOROU (GRE) to introduce the world of match racing and the America's Cup to Greece and has proved to be a terrific success.
Reigning 470 Olympic Champion and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year BEKATOROU made an important step in her bid to learn the game of match racing, when she beat Kiwi legend and three times Match Racing World Champion Chris DICKSON in their match earlier this week. While she may have won Olympic gold in Athens last year, BEKATOROU knows that switching from fleet racing in 470 dinghies to match racing in heavy keelboats cannot be achieved overnight. There are new skills to be learned. At least victory over the skipper of the BMW Oracle Racing (USA) team suggests she is moving in the right direction.

'It really was a very challenging match,' she said. 'We won the pre-start and got to windward of him. But downwind we had a problem with the spinnaker and he got inside us. But then we got back in control on the windward leg and managed to finish first. It was nice to win against such a great team.'

For BEKATOROU, arguably the greater achievement was in having organized this regatta in less than a year, and in convincing so many top names to compete in an event with no history. COUTTS said he was pleased to be invited, 'It has been a lot of fun, and Mykonos is a beautiful sailing venue. I figure it's important to support sailing as a sport, and every year I try to do at least one or two events like this.'

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From left to right, Sofia BEKATOROU,
Vice-President George ANDREADIS (GRE)
© Kurt Arrigo/Rolex

BEKATOROU designed Dream Race Mykonos to work on a number of different levels, and it has delivered in every area. It has worked as a fundraising event to promote sailing to young people on the island of Mykonos. Seeing four America's Cup teams in action has given BEKATOROU and other Greek sailors an important insight into match racing at the highest level. And it has opened the Greek public's eyes to the world of the America's Cup.

The ambitious young sailor's ultimate dream is to assemble a Greek challenge for the next America's Cup. 'Of course we are in no position yet to talk seriously about such a project,' BEKATOROU admitted, 'but this event has worked as a good introduction to the America's Cup. We proved as a nation that we can manage big projects, with the Athens Olympics last year, and I believe we could make a credible challenge for the Cup.'

She has the backing of COUTTS in pursuing her ambitions. 'Sofia has really put the work in to make the Dream Race work, and so she clearly has what it takes. When people ask if it is realistic for her to organize a Greek challenge for the Cup, I say why not? When New Zealand started challenging for the Cup, a lot of people said it was unrealistic for us to be able to challenge the bigger nations. But we did, and so I think the Greeks can do it too.'

BEKATOROU plans to make the Dream Race Mykonos a regular fixture in the calendar. This year saw two days of good winds, enabling some good racing in the Beneteau 25 keelboats, followed by two days of almost zero breeze. Fortunately enough breeze came in to enable a quick final to be held between COUTTS and BRUNI. Chris DICKSON was third and Santiago LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ (ESP) of Desafio Espanol fourth. Best of the four Greek skippers was Theodore TSOULFAS, followed by Sofia BEKATOROU.

Event Media. Image, Russell COUTTS's winning team:© Kurt Arrigo/Rolex
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