Eric Williams into the lead

After a difficult day conditions at the Dragon's Edinburgh Cup in Cowes

Sunday May 28th 2006, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
The second day of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup in Cowes brought much better conditions enabling the race committee to run three races. After yesterday's rough conditions, which forced the boats home after the practise race, today couldn't have been more different. In the overall standings Eric Williams, sailing Ecstatic with Duncan Grindley and Rory Patton, now leads on 11 points. Second place is currently tied between Denmark's Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen, sailing Danish Blue, and Alexey Krylov of Russia aboard Versiya 3.0, both on 14 points, with Germany's Thomas Muller in fourth on 22 points.

Racing got underway in 6-8 knots from 320 degrees and after an initial general recall the fleet got away clean on the second attempt. With the tide ebbing and the wind coming down the north shore the right hand side of the course was favoured. Eric Williams got a lovely start and then sailed a perfect beat to round the weather mark nicely ahead of the pack. Having got clear air Williams put on a master class in how to extend your lead and went onto win by one of the biggest margins ever seen in an Edinburgh Cup race. Behind him the pack was closely bunched and there was plenty of action at the marks. Hoj-Jensen took second with Len Jones third, America's Edward Sawyer fourth and David Palmer fifth.

By the start of the second race the wind had come up to 10-12 knots, remaining steady at 320 degrees. The fleet were all clear at their first attempt and this time it was Ireland's Simon Brien, sailing Kin, who got the best of it to lead at the weather mark with Williams following him round. Brien stretched out his lead nicely on the next three legs and as he approached the final leeward mark he looked very comfortable. Unfortunately a slight foul up with the kite drop took his eye off the ball and he failed to realise quite how hard the tide was now running. As a result he clipped the mark and had to complete a penalty turn. Fortunately his lead was just sufficient to keep him ahead of the pack on the short beat to the finish. Williams took second with Krylov third, Rick Gillingham fourth and Hoj-Jensen fifth.

By the start of the final race the wind had increased to 14-16 knots, holding steady at 320 degrees. Rob Campbell got a lovely start and at the weather mark he was just ahead of Gavia Wilkinson-Cox and Krylov with the pack right behind them and closely bunched. Down the first run Campbell held his lead but Wilkinson-Cox dropped back into the pack allowing Krylov to pull up into second. On the second lap Campbell continued to hold off the fleet whilst Wilkinson-Cox clawed back up into second. Down the final run Campbell went right and Wilkinson-Cox went left but as they came into the leeward mark Campbell still just had it. He took off to the right up the short beat to the finish while Wilkinson-Cox broke left along with Thomas Muller from Germany who had sailed a blinding race to pull back up from mid fleet into the chocolates. Their left hand option paid dividends and now it was between Wilkson-Cox and Muller in the final approaches. On the line Wilkinson-Cox took the race by just a boat length from Muller with Krylov third, Campbell fourth and Brien fifth.

"We'd got such a good start that throughout the race I'd been worried we were over. Up the final beat we were fighting to stay ahead of Tommy so the sound of gun on the finish line was doubly welcome!" commented Gavia Wilkinson-Cox after the finish.

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