A Danish Irish Day In St. Tropez
Irish eyes were definitely smiling in St Tropez on Monday at the International Dragon 75th Anniversary Regatta, and they matched the grin on the face of a Danish crew, as boats from each country chalked up wins on the opening day of this spectacular event
Denmark's Henrik THOMSEN and his crew, sailing Cecilie won the first heat of the day, while Ward WOODS of Dunlaoghaire sailing Jessica took his crew to victory in the other heat.
Woods, who led narrowly at the first mark from fellow Irishman Peter O'REILLY, commented when he came ashore, "we held it from there, it was pretty traumatic at the end, it was very very close.
"We were trying to cover all the fleet and they were coming at us from both sides, it wasn't looking good at one stage, but we managed to hold on, it was very tense."
Henrik THOMSEN and his crew were a little bemused by their success, "it feels great, really great, and totally unexpected since we are new to the Dragon class, this is our first big regatta,"
There were a few famous places near the front of the fleet, with America's Cup legend Russell COUTTS finishing fifth in the second heat, while His Royal Highness Crown Prince FREDERIK of Denmark finished sixth in the other heat.
After a delay of over an hour due to light winds, the 268 boats made an amazing sight as they scattered across the Bay of St Tropez, some of the fleet coming close in along the harbour wall, giving the spectators a great view.
The Swedes claimed the most boats in the top six over the two heats, with third and fourth places in heat one, and fourth place in heat two, Gutta JOHANNSON, Lars-Erik MOLSE and Hans ELIASSON respectively.
Ireland and Denmark had two each, with the Dutch, Swiss, French, Norwegians and Belgians also featuring near the top of the scoreboard.
There are nearly forty "classics" built before 1972 which had their own start, while the rest are split into four groups, with two groups sailing together in each heat, so that there are over a hundred boats in each race, and each group will sail with all the others during the week.