- San Remo. The first title of the Dragon season has been claimed – and in a breath-taking finale. Denmark’s Lars Hendriksen and his crew of Anders Bagger (DEN) and Frithjof Kleen (GER) clinched the title at the European Championship in San Remo, at which BMW is “Official Partner”. 13th place in the final race was sufficient for Hendriksen to see off the challenge of BMW Yachtsport Ambassador Markus Wieser by two points. The sixth and final race was held in sunny conditions, with large waves and winds reaching over 20 knots – and it turned out to be an absolute thriller.
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Four teams lined up for the final time with realistic chances of overall victory. As well as Wieser and Hendriksen, former Dragon World Champion Malte Philipp (GER) and former Olympic champion in the 470 class Jevgenij Braslavets (UKR) also had their sights set on the European Championship title. Philipp and Braslavets saw their chances of victory slip away when they were forced to complete a penalty turn, and Hendriksen also seemed down and out after Berlin’s Kleen fell overboard whilst tacking. Wieser and his crew had sufficient boats between himself and the Dane, but decided against the match-racing tactic of covering and eventually came home in tenth place. However, Hendriksen (28 points) overtook boat after boat on the final beat to snatch European Championship glory from the Wieser’s grasp (30 points). Bronze went to Braslavets (33 points).
“It was an extremely strong field in San Remo, with 84 competitors from 23 countries,” said Wieser. “In the end, we botched it up ourselves. We were on course for the title – right until just before the end. Over the course of the final race, all of our closest rivals had actually slipped out of contention. However, the eventual European Champion Lars Hendriksen managed to move up from 35th place to 13th and snatched the title from under our nose at the last moment – we missed out by just two places. Despite this, we are still happy with our performance and will hit back at the International Dragon Gold Cup in Medemblik.
The Corinthian ranking was won by the Italian crew of helmsman Nando Colaninno, who finished ahead of Norway’s Martin Palson and Ukrainian Sergiy Pichugin. Like the new European Champion’s team, Colaninno’s crew also received a BMW M Intensive Training course as a special prize. The Dragon yachtsmen will be pushed to the limit on such renowned racetracks as the Nürburgring, Salzburgring and Hockenheimring at the wheel of a BMW M4.
The continental championship formed the opening leg of a series of high-class Dragon regattas, which BMW is once again supporting this year. These include the BMW Dragon Grand Prix Germany (15th – 18th June, Kühlungsborn, GER), the International Dragon Gold Cup (5th – 12th September, Medemblik, NED), the Hans-Detmar Wagner Cup (9th – 12th October, Torbole, ITA) and Dragon Saint Tropez (15th – 18th October, Saint Tropez, FRA).
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