Hendriksen clinches European title
This incredible championship came to a close with a final marathon three hour race in the central Solent under more sunny skies and with a superb 15-18 knots of wind. His Majesty King Constantine of the Hellenes, President of the International Dragon Association, and Martin Gilbert, Chairman of regatta sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management, were among a rapt group of spectators who were kept in suspense until the closing moments of the race.
Initially in today's race it looked as if the title could have slipped from overnight leader Lars Hendriksen's grip as he rounded the first mark three quarters of the way down the fleet. Fortunately for him race leader Frank Berg, lying fourth overall going into the day, could not win the regatta and his only two competitors, Bo Selko and Maksim Semerkano were just a few places ahead so all was not yet lost.
From the off Denmark's Frank Berg had decided to close the regatta in style and led the entire way round the course to win by a huge margin. Second place was a battle between Sweden's Tom Lofstedt and the Ukraine's Sergey Pigiugin in which Lofsted was eventually victorious. Cowes girl Julia Bailey took fourth place just ahead of Ireland's Simon Brien in fifth with Britain's Len Jones sixth, Portugal's Antonio Correia seventh and Oleg Kohpersky of Russia eighth.
Back down the fleet the Championship was still to be decided. Hendriksen knew that provided Selko and Semerkanov finished in the teens or worse he was safe despite his own poor position. It was nail biting stuff as the three boats slogged round the course. In an attempt to catch his rivals Hendriksen took a right hand flyer up the second beat but only gained two places. Semerkanov and Selko meanwhile where enjoying a classic dog fight as the pair vied to not only move up the fleet and beat Hendriksen but to beat each other as well. Despite Herculean efforts they could do no better than 18th and 19th respectively and, knowing that he need do no more Hendriksen elected to turn away without crossing the line.
At this afternoon's prize giving His Majesty King Constantine presented the prizes to the winners and congratulated the Royal Yacht Squadron, the International and British Dragon Associations, the Cowes Dragon Fleet and event sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management for an extremely successful championship.
For Lars Hendriksen, Will Willets and Martin Leifeldt this was a particularly poignant win as their owner and regular helm, Edward Sawyer, is currently in hospital following an accident at last week's Dragon Edinburgh Cup. In his acceptance speech crew member Will Willett said "We'd like to thank the Royal Yacht Squadron for five days of fantastic racing and we'd particularly like to thank Ted Sawyer, whose generosity and enthusiasm for Dragon sailing is such that when he knew he would be unable to compete this week he insisted Lars and I race the boat. We are very proud to win this trophy on Ted's behalf."
Martin Gilbert, CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, said..."Aberdeen Asset Management has been proud to sponsor the 2006 Aberdeen Dragon European Championship and we congratulate all 41 crews on their fine efforts this week. It has been a regatta of the very highest standard. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Royal Yacht Squadron for hosting a splendid week's racing."
The secret committee which has decided the Dubarry Team of the Day Award each evening felt that on this final day it was only fitting that the award should go to the final boat to cross the line in the final race of the series. The entire Russian Team have been wonderful competitors at this regatta and so Sergey Maslov and his crew Alexander Ekhzov and Andrey Dolgov aboard RUS3 received an exceptionally warm welcome from their fellow sailors as they came up to collect their Dubarry boots.
|29||GBR610 / 788||Rackham||26||36||38||29||15||24||39||207||130|
|30||GBR684||Hand of Fortune||23||41||18||27||34||42||28||213||130|
|31||RUS34||Russo Orient Express||24||24||23||25||45||45||34||220||130|
|34||GBR 700||Princess Jalina||38||31||41||40||20||40||30||240||159|
|36||GBR710 / GBR679||Avalanche||25||38||35||42||35||33||31||239||159|
|37||GBR656 / GBR648||Apalala||32||28||46||44||28||43||37||258||168|
|40||GBR681 / GBR690||Stampede||40||47||45||38||32||34||40||276||184|