Ireland leads the charge

Fiona Brown reports from the second day of racing at the Dragon Edinburgh Cup in Plymouth

Saturday July 12th 2008, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
The second day of racing at the Dragon Edinburgh Cup in Plymouth proved to be somewhat controversial. Although races three through to five of the six race series were sailed, race five had to be abandoned on the instructions of the Royal Navy.

The boats had just started the final leg of the race and were due to sail a last beat taking them across the channel at the western entrance to Plymouth Harbour. Unfortunately the Navy had decided to move one of its submarines through the channel at the exact same time and instructed that the boats could not continue to the finish line. An attempt to 'shorten' course was made, setting a line in the middle of the leg and a set of results for the race were published showing France's Louis Irvois as winner with Ireland's Don O'Donoghue second, Eric Williams from Cowes third and Len Jones from Kent fourth. However, back ashore it was established that the attempt to shorten course did not comply with the rules and the Race Committee had to abandon the race.

The two races that could be correctly completed saw some massive wind shifts and major snakes and ladders on both the race course and the overall scoreboard. The forecast said the wind would go right as the day wore on and it didn't disappoint going from south west to north west. Fortunately the Royal Western Yacht Club's Race Committee was on the pace and aside from one run which turned into a reach they were able to keep up with the shifts and gave the teams another great day of sailing.

With two final races still to sail tomorrow and the discard yet to come into play the championship remains wide open. Overall Ireland's Don O'Donoghue crewed by Brian Matthews and Mark Pettitt continues to lead the regatta. Yesterday he scored two first places and today he added two fourth places to his card giving him ten points overall. Louis Urvois of France, sailing with Gwen Chapalain and Eric Drouglazet, remains in second place and currently counts 15 points overall having come sixth and fifth in today's races.

Most consistent performer of the day was without doubt Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, crewed by Jon Mortimer and Mark Hart, who was both fast and smart and scored two third places, leaping up the scoreboard from eighth overall to third. For Gavia the abandonment of the fifth race was a blessing as she had found herself on the wrong side of a shift and finished 12th.

75 year old Edward Sawyer from the USA, crewed by Martin 'Stavros' Payne and Pedro, found much better form in the lighter airs and less boisterous seas to finish seventh in race three and win race four handsomely moving up to fourth place overall as a result. On equal points with Sawyer, but lying in fifth on count-back is Eric Williams from Cowes, crewed by Duncan Grindley and Rory Paton. The day's other race winner was Medway's Len Jones, crewed by Jamie Lea and Henry Bagnall, who led race three from start to finish and won by a handsome margin. With a sixth in race four Jones is now lying sixth overall.

In the Classics Division for wooden Dragons built prior to 1972 three boats are battling it out for the honours and competition is as fierce here as in the overall regatta. Tonight Matthew Ratsey, Kevin Poole and Tim Petitt sailing Blue Skies lead the competition by just five points from David Jephcott, James Tyers and Keith Davis sailing Moonbeam, with David Dale, Cathy and Peter Williams sailing Inge in third place.

This is the 60th running of the Edinburgh Cup and to mark the occasion a special gala dinner is being held this evening in the wardroom of HMS Drake. The regatta concludes tomorrow and the Race Committee aim to complete the two final races of the series plus the traditional Edinburgh Cup Crews Race.

Provisional Overall Top Six

1. Don O'Donoghue 1, 1, 4, 4 - 10 points
2. Louis Urvois 2, 2, 6, 5 - 15 points
3. Gavia Wilkinson-Cox 4, 13, 3, 3 - 23 points
4. Edward Sawyer 10, 6, 7, 1 - 24 points
5. Eric Williams 6, 5, 11, 2 - 24 points
6. Len Jones - 9, 9, 1, 6 - 25 points

More photos on the following pages....

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