Classic boats clear the grey skies in Cannes

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The Independent Online

Black flags under grey skies were replaced by gentler breezes and blue skies today as racing resumed at the Regates Royales for classic boats, metre boats and Dragons.

The death of Britain's Wilf Tolhurst on Tuesday was still sharp in the minds of the competitors on the 185 boats, but it had been his family's wish that the regatta continue and, after postponing the classic yacht racing for a day, the fleet duly left the dock.

There are many crew who have raced at a much higher level, but this is a regatta which combines some short racing with the long term challenge of maintaining the beauty as well as performance of a bygone era.

One of the differences to the modern, grand prix racing fleets is not just the graceful shapes of the hulls. It is the absence of branding or logos on yachts that have a different story to tell than the purely commercial.

The first major regatta in Cannes was in 1861 and by 1869 there were 100 boats. This is the 30th of the revived series and, though it stands alone, the Panerai Regates Royales also forms a part of the Mediterranean series which takes in Antibes Argentario, Menorca, and Imperia. There are other classic gatherings in Malta and Sardinia.

One of a handful left ashore was former British America's Cup and Admiral's Cup team boss Graham Walker's 65-foot Rowdy. It was 1916-built, Nathaniel Herreshoff-designed sloop that became entangled with Tolhurst's 40-foot 8-Metre, Safir, whose mast crashed down on the 64-year old east Anglian owner.

Rowdy suffered a broken bowsprit and this should be replaced in time to do the last two races on Friday and Saturday.



To see a gallery of Guillaume Plisson's dramatic images of the classic yachts under sail click here

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