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6 October 2004, 09:15 am
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Dragon Class 25 Anniversary
St. Tropez

It is less than a week to the start of the International Dragon Class 75th Anniversary Regatta in St Tropez, France.

This tribute to one of the truly enduring classic classes of sailing boat, bears many similarities to that other benchmark regatta of the 21st century, the America's Cup Jubilee of 2001.

While the boats may not be as varied and spectacular as we saw in Cowes three years ago, the line up of sailing legends who will grace the waters of St Tropez next week is similarly impressive. Olympic medallists are almost small change in this fleet, it has to be gold to draw attention, and double gold to stand out from the crowd, or a gold and three America's Cup wins probably trumps everything.

Denmark's Jesper BANK heads the medal list, with two Gold medals and a Bronze, but doubtless the man who will attact most attention will be New Zealander Russell COUTTS.

It will probably be a relief to the Royalty of Europe that they can wander around St Tropez almost unrecognised, as they did in Cowes at the Jubilee, where it was the sailors who were the centre of attention. Representatives of at least six European royal families will be attending in various capacities, and some of them will be competing.

England will have the second largest entry in this event, with 45 boats making the trip to St Tropez, two less than Germany, with eight of the British boats being classics. While the current holder of the Edinburgh Cup, Rory Bowman, is not entered, most of the other leading teams from this season will be there, including Julia Bailey with Aimee, Rob Campbell's Quicksilver and Ivan Bradbury in Elusive.

There are also some well known names to be found amongst the crews, such as Ian SOUTHWORTH, on Robert Gray's classic Troika, Andy BEADSWORTH with David PALMER on Princess Jalina, Phil CREBBIN with newcomer to the class David SHERRIFF and Neil MCDONALD with Russell PETERS.

With 268 boats from 32 countries entered for this unique gathering, the fleet has been divided into five groups, except for one special race on Thursday, when all the boats will come to the starting line en masse.

For the rest of the week, with racing scheduled from Monday 11 to Saturday 16, about forty "classics" built before 1972 will have their own races, while the rest are split into four groups, which will all sail against each other over the first three days.

The Dragon class was designed in 1929 by Norwegian boatbuilder Johan ANKER, and the class enjoyed Olympic status from 1948 until 1972, with gold medallist in the class from 1960, HM King Constantine contesting this regatta.

As has come to be expected of the Dragon class, the social scene will be just as punishing as the sailing, with activities ranging from boule and golf, to a gala dinner for about 1,500 on the Thursday evening.
Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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