Gorgeous Worgeous again
|The finish of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management, could not have been more gripping as a first mark pile up in today's final race threw the fleet and the results into disaray. Ultimately it was Bill Hardesty from Chicago, sailing GBR723
Gorgeous Worgeous with owner Quentin Strauss from London and Nigel Young of North Sails Ireland, who claimed the historic Edinburgh Cup trophy. Ireland's Andrew Craig, sailing IRL192
Chimaera with Brian Matthews and Pedro Andrade, finished second overall and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox of Cowes, sailing GBR716
Jerboa with Mark Hart and Mark Daly, took the third podium spot.
A very happy Quentin Strauss commented: "We're delighted with the outcome of the regatta, we're dead chuffed to have be successful in the end. It was very tight sailing with a group of very talented sailors throughout. The weather conditions were variable, quite challenging and difficult at times making it a far from easy regatta to figure out the right ways to go. The race management was excellent and the team here has done an outstanding job.
"Nigel and I have enjoyed very much sailing with Bill Hardesty who has taken to the Dragon like a duck to water. I think he's found it a relatively small step from the Etchells sailing that he's been doing successfully in the past and he's enjoyed his time here. The team has formed and worked well together and we've certainly enjoyed this regatta and hope, in one form or another, to do some more sailing later in the year. Certainly our sights are on the World Championship in Medemblik.
"We've been delighted to wear, as ever, our Gill clothing, which has kept us warm and dry despite all the rain and we appreciate our relationship with them. All in all it's been a great regatta and we're delighted to win at the close and wish our best good fortune to Andrew Craig and his team and to Gavia Wilkinson-Cox and her team and to Rob Campbell and his team who have given us a really tough time this week."
Going into the final race Craig led the regatta on 12 points with Hardesty two points behind. Rob Campbell, sailing GBR743 Quicksilver IV with John Torrance and Matt Walker, was third overall on 18 points, and Wilkinson-Cox was just one point behind him in fourth. With 12-15 knots from the SSW, rain, very low visibility and strong winds forecast for later in the day PRO Jonathan Money wisely opted to hold the final race in the relative shelter of Carrick Roads with the start line set off St Just Creek and the windward mark under Pendennis Castle.
The fleet got away at the first attempt with Craig and Hardesty opting for the committee boat end and Wilkinson-Cox and Campbell vying for the pin, a battle that Wilkinson-Cox won for the second day running. Craig and Wilkinson-Cox got the slightly better starts and as they set up off the beat it was clear that neither side was particularly favoured.
Having crossed tacks with Craig several times on the beat Hardesty approached the first mark on the starboard lay line and Craig tacked in under his lee bow. It was a gutsy call and initially looked to be a winning move despite a slightly fumbled tack, but then Julia Bailey, sailing GBR720 Aimee with husband Graham Bailey and David Heritage, and Thorkild Junker, sailing GBR748 Cool Runnings with Jochem Visser and Tom Whitburn, came in from the port lay line ahead of them. Bailey slightly over stood but Thorkild got his line spot on and tacked right on Craig's face.
As first Junker then Bailey and Hardesty rounded cleanly Craig desperately struggled to make the mark ending up almost head to wind. For a few seconds it looked as if he might just get away with it, but as more and more boats sailed over the top of him he lost momentum, the current took hold and he and slid inexorably into the mark. Ahead Hardesty's team were eagle eyed and as the contact came Nigel Young hailed to confirm that they had seen the infringement and were looking for turns.
Craig's drama rapidly had a knock on effect and as more and more boats ran into the logjam, both Wilkinson-Cox and Campbell were forced to abandon their original mark approaches and find alternatively slots back down the fleet. Wilkinson-Cox finally rounded in 12th rather than the fifth she had looked good for and Campbell suffered even more failing to find a slot in the starboard tackers and eventually rounding in the 20s. By the time Craig had taken his penalty he was deep into the fleet too.
For Hardesty it was now just a matter of sailing conservatively and on the first run he did an excellent job to slip past Bailey and Junker and into the lead, which he then held until the finish with Bailey second, Junker third and Julian Sowry, sailing GBR730 Scimitar with wife Claire Sowry and Hilary Gallo, fourth. Wilkinson-Cox briefly entertained hopes of a second place overall, but although she was able to claw back from 12th to fifth it wasn't enough as Craig was also grinding his way back up the fleet eventually crossing the line in ninth.
After the prize giving Bill Hardesty gave us his thoughts on his first week of Dragon sailing and on how the boat compares with the Etchells, in which he won the 2008 World Championship, and the Melges 24, in which he is a double World Champion. "It's been a great week and sailing with Nigel and Quentin has been a lot of fun. With a new team it usually takes a few days and we were lucky and were able to have good speed in the heavy winds of the warm up South Westerns. But as the winds got lighter for the Edinburgh Cup we were equal with everybody else and we had to sail well and we were just on par until today's race so it was close.
"Two days ago four teams were pretty much tied, then yesterday we were two points behind the leader and only four points ahead of third so today's race was pretty exciting with the Irish. They were talking a lot about having bad luck from winning the practise regatta and I think that maybe it's an Irish luck thing that we Americans don't understand, so we just continued to do what we do. We made a little bit of a late attempt at a match race with 30 seconds to go to the start and started just to leeward of them. We weren't able to slow them so we had an equal start and were pretty equal with them all the way up the leg.
"Two thirds of the way up they crossed just barely in front maybe one foot clear ahead on starboard and went into the group a little bit. The wind shifted right and when they came they had the lee bow and we were just barely on the lay line and they didn't make the mark. They'd under estimated the current and the wind shifted just a little bit and they hit the mark, which put us in third. Luckily the teams that were 4 and 6 points behind us were having a bad race themselves so it made things relaxing from that point and we were able to sail around the course a bit more casually. As the boys say I get a little bit excited when things get tight! I light to work hard, I think if you take it casually sometimes you end up being mediocre so we take it pretty serious and we do our home work and we expect perfection.
"Compared with the Etchells the Dragon is really low to the water, heavy, a bit slow, they take a lot of water over the front if you have any waves but it's very similar to the Etchells. The feel on the helm is almost identical and setting the boat up is pretty similar too. If it's windy and bumpy nice and twisty on the sails and if it's bumpy momentum is a big factor. As soon as you think you need to point higher, think twice because as soon as you point higher you end up going sideways and it doesn't work just like the Etchells.
"Compared to the Melges 24 it's a completely different animal. With the Melges you accelerate quickly and it's light and quickly manoeuvrable, the Dragon has big overhangs that swing a lot when manoeuvring so you start differently. In a Dragon you start accelerating at 40 seconds in a Melges 24 you trim in at 10 and off you go. Luckily I've sailed Etchells a lot in the past couple of years so it was pretty easy to get comfortable. In the Etchells I think we have more of a speed edge whereas in the Dragon we're more equal so we had to sail well."
Asked how his week had been winning crew Nigel Young's first comment was: "Wet! - It was good actually. I've sailed with Quentin now for quite some time in lots of different things - Melges 24s, Dragons, Wayfarers - and it's always good when you get a team together like this with such an experienced helmsman. Bill is a really nice guy and brought a lot to the team, but we've brought a lot to him because we were able to bring him up to speed on the boat pretty quickly.
"We thought it was going to take him some time to get up to speed because the Etchells and the Dragon are quite different animals, but it's very interesting actually because he says that the boats are much more similar than you might imagine and he found it very similar to driving the Etchells. He got a handle on it pretty quick. We were laughing just now because the South West Championships seemed so easy, which might be a little bit big headed may be, but that just fell into our hands so easily, and this one was so so difficult and we had to leave it until the last minute to snatch the trophy."
Asked about their sail programme for the event Nigel, who runs North Sails Ireland, explained, "We did the same as I do with any of my programmes. We don't try to beat our own customers with something special for ourselves. We try to make the most forgiving sails for everybody. We used the standard North sails all week. We used the regular A9 mainsail and the MJ8 jib when the breeze was down and when the breeze was up we used the heavy main and the MJ5 genoa which is pretty devastating, especially when Bill's on the tiller."
Third placed Gavia Wilkinson-Cox was delighted to be the top British helm at the event for the second year running. "We're thrilled to bits to have got a third and my two Marks [Hart and Daly] did a fantastic job. We were third last year and we're third this year and we've retained our position through last year and this year of being the top British boat at every championship we've competed in. We're just setting off now to go to a lot of international regattas so this is a terrific result for us and we're thrilled to bits."
This year, for the first time, the Edinburgh Cup has featured a Corinthian Division for all amateur crews that hold ISAF Sailor Classification 1. International Dragon Association (IDA) Chairman Rob Campbell, sailing Quicksilver IV with John Torrance and Matt Walker, who finished fourth overall, was the delighted winner of the new Corinthian Trophy. Second Corinthian place went to Mark and Mandy Wade in GBR722 Avalanche, crewed by Duncan Grindley with the all family team of Clive, Graeme and Rory Page, sailing GBR740 Pageboy X, in fourth.
Speaking after racing Rob Campbell commented, "With the contentious nature of the amount of professionalism that has come into the class over the years - some people agree with it, some don't - I think it's a wonderful idea to introduce a Corinthian Trophy. It's been discussed not only at the national level within the British Association, but the International Association has discussed it at their last two meetings. I personally as Chairman of the IDA would be very pleased if this starts a trend and am delighted to be the first Corinthian Edinburgh Cup Champion."
The Dragon is a class that engenders huge loyalty among it sailors. This year the class celebrates its 80th anniversary and several of the class's elder statesmen made the trip to Falmouth to watch and support the event including Mike Williamson and his wife Diana. Mike's contribution to both the British and the International Dragon Associations over many decades cannot be overstated and the sailors were delighted to see him supporting the event and keeping an eye on the class's progress.
It's also a class that appeals not only to the top professional crews but also encompasses numerous family and husband and wife teams too. The top performing husband and wife at this year's Edinburgh Cup were Thomas and Nicola Wilton, crewing for Tim Tavinor in GBR744 Biff, who finished in sixth overall. Second husband and wife were Julia and Graham Bailey, sailing GBR720 Aimee with David Heritage, who were 8th overall and third was Mark and Mandy Wade sailing GBR722 Avalanch with Duncan Grindley, who came 10th overall.
Special thanks must go to the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, PRO Jonathan Money and his team and especially to event and Dragon Class sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management and supporting sponsor Petticrows Ltd, without whose hard work, skill and most generous contributions this event would not have been possible.
The 2010 Dragon Edinburgh Cup will be held in Cowes and further details of this event will be published on www.britishdragons.org shortly.
More photos on the following pages...