DRAGON GOLD CUP – The Gazprom International Dragon Gold Cup will begin tomorrow on the water at Douarnenez, the bay that on numerous occasions has been a lauded setting for sailors from all over the globe.
Over the course of the week 78 teams will come head to head; some on a quest for the prestigious ‘Holy Grail’ of the Gold Cup, others for the sheer elegance of the Dragon class and the majority to face the elements. Whether Olympic medallists, offshore specialists or sailors with a passion for the art of racing, over the next six days they all have one main factor in common– the Bay of Douarnenez along with all its mysteries and beauty.
The winds of Douarnenez – “It’s similar to any bay, except that we are talking about Douarnenez,” Jean-Luc Nélias is quick to state. That may be so, but what is it exactly? “It’s wild and beautiful. There are no buildings, and you sail among blue surrounded by green. The bay is closed in on three sides and there is some high ground. The current hardly interferes (or not at all) in your strategic choices.
The wind finds its own way through and makes its way down there. It’s tricky. You have to try and get a reading of a wind which is often mischievous. When it comes down from the Ménez-Hom (which overlooks the Bay of Douarnenez from 330 metres), it sketches its wake and moves from one side to the other. The hardest thing here is being able to predict it and what is going to happen in the next two or three hours of racing.”
“As it’s going to be good weather all week, there is another factor that will also make a difference when reading the water and that is the thermal wind. When the thermal wind sets in, you feel it coming and you might get a smell of cut hay or sun cream depending on its direction,” explains Yann Kersalé, “There is a ‘Vent des Mages’ (lit. Magician’s Wind) which is what they call the toboggan that comes down from the Ménez-Hom and which we all go after, as well as the ‘ascenseur’ (lit. ‘the lift’) which is the thermal. The whole fleet might set off to the left for the toboggan and you take ‘the lift’ all on your own. That is the ideal situation ! The toboggan is a safe option and the lift is a possibility.”
Twenty boats may win the Gazprom International Dragon Gold Cup.
“Knowing the bay is a serious advantage, but what you really need is a triple Olympic title,” explains Jean-Luc Nélias.
“The Dragon is a learning experience in humility and you can’t win all the time, even if you do have those Olympic medals behind you,” adds Yann Kersalé.
“Yes Yann is right, you need humility and determination. And there isn’t just one right way. It’s like love,” concludes Erik Orsenna.
From Monday 19th to Saturday 2th August – there is one race a day starting at 15h. The boats will leave the dock at 13h.
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