The Man is The Man
For the 26 teams from six nations competing at the 2010 Dragon UK South Coast Championship, hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes, over 27-29 June 2010, the Solent offered up three days of glorious sunshine and near perfect racing conditions.
After eight closely fought races Danish double Olympic Gold Medallist Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen, sailing GBR745 Danish Blue with Theis Palm and Andrew Norden, took victory by a nine point margin from Len Jones of the Medway sailing GBR708 Rumours crewed by Pedro Andrade and Philip Catmur. In third place was Russia's Mikhail Muratov sailing RUS96 Murka 8 crewed by Vladimir Krutskikh and V Uvarkin and fourth place was taken by Cowes based Gavia Wilkinson-Cox and her crew Mark Hart and Henry Bagnall aboard GBR716 Jerboa. In the Corinthian competition for the all-amateur crews first place went to Burnham on Crouch's Mark Wade sailing GBR722 Avalanch crewed by Mandy Wade and Duncan Grindley.
Speaking after racing winner Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen said: "I have been coming to Cowes for many years and I have always been very very happy to come here and have been made very welcome so I am happy to be back again. I would like to say thank you for the organisation which has been very good. I would also like to thank the Race Officer for doing a good job. The starting line has been excellent and we know that making it perfect is extremely difficult because the tide is always there. I would also like to say thanks to Len [Jones] for giving us such a hard time. We have enjoyed it and he has been sailing very very well and really stepped on us and got us to do the job."
With six different race winners it was an exciting series and the racing was always extremely close. Local sailor Julia Bailey aboard GBR720 Aimee, crewed by Graham Bailey and David Heritage, opened the regatta in style by taking the first race from Len Jones with Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen third and Olga White, sailing RUS69 Murka 7 with Martin Leifelt and Vadim Statsenko, fourth. Bailey consolidated on that opening race by finishing eighth in the second race and second in the third putting her into the overall lead.
In race two Hoj-Jensen had his only real stumble of the regatta finishing 11th, his worst result of the series, but he made up for it by winning the third race to slot into second place, four points behind Bailey. The big battle of the day was for third place with Ireland's Andrew Craig sailing IRL192 Chimera, Hampshire's Jamie Lea, helming GBR723 Gorgeous Worgeous for Quentin Strauss, and Mikhail Muratov all tied on 16 points by the end of the day. On count-back and thanks to his win in race two Craig took third, Muratov fourth and Lea fifth. Jones was four points behind them in sixth and Wilkinson-Cox four further points back in seventh.
With lots of tide and a shifty wind ranging between 8 and 12 knots day two gave the competitors plenty to think about. Bailey's opening day form did not hold and with a 14th place followed by an 11th and a ninth she dropped down to sixth overall. Hoj-Jensen reminded everyone that there is a good reason why the Dragon Fleet know him simply as "The Man" as he took the tricky conditions in his stride to add 4, 1, 2 to his score moving him into a five point lead. Jones was clearly going for consistency and finished in third place in all three races to move up into second overall, five points ahead of Muratov who won race four and went on to score a seventh and a fifth. Wilkinson-Cox and Lea continued to go head to head and by the end of the day they were both counting 23 points, however, Wilkinson-Cox's win in race six meant she took fourth.
While the sun was initially a little reluctant on day three the wind had no such hesitation and racing got underway in a nice 12 to 15 knots from the southwest. In race seven Hoj-Jensen, Jones and Olga White, sailing RUS69 Murka 7, went at it hammer and tongs from the off. At the first mark Jones and White rounded side by side with White to weather while Hoj-Jensen slotted into third a few yards back with Muratov hard on his heels and Wilkinson-Cox in fifth. As the leading three held their positions for the rest of the race, Bailey worked hard to come from the middle of the pack up into fourth with Portugal's Jose Matoso in POR55 Drago fifth, Lea sixth and Wilkinson-Cox seventh.
The sun had finally broken through again by the start of the final race and it was a joy to watch this closely matched fleet of elegant Dragons as they fought it out for the final placing. After an initial general recall the eager fleet got away cleanly and Hoj-Jensen immediately put his stamp on the race and the regatta. At the weather mark he had a half boat length lead over Bailey with Pierre Francoise in FRA277 third, Muratov fourth, Jones fifth and Wade sixth. By the first leeward mark Hoj-Jensen had stretched out a comfortable led over Bailey. Wade and Francoise rounded together amid a heated discussion about water, as a result of which Jones was able to nip in and harden up inside them with Craig chasing him through the gap. The leading six opted for the port gate but seventh placed Wilkinson-Cox broke the trend and took the starboard buoy rounding just ahead of Muratov. On the final lap Hoj-Jensen confidently defended his lead but behind him there was plenty of place changing still to come. Craig found a welcome return to form after a lackluster mid-section to his regatta and ground his way through the leading pack to ultimately take second place. Muratov finished third with Baily fourth, Wilkinson-Cox fifth, Jones sixth and Wade seventh.
As they returned to the dock the competitors saluted Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen and his crew as worthy winners of a tricky regatta. Ultimately the other podium positions also remained unchanged with Len Jones second and Mikhail Muratov third.
This evening the teams are enjoying a welcome reception at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club for the forthcoming Edinburgh Cup, supported by Aberdeen Asset Management, which opens tomorrow and runs through until Saturday. A gala prize giving dinner for the South Coast Championship will follow the welcome reception.
The fleet will increase to 33 teams for the Edinburgh Cup and among the new additions will be British Olympic Bronze Medallist Lawrie Smith, who will be crewed by fellow Olympian Ossie Stewart and 505 World Champion Bill Masterman; Norway's Klause Diederich's, crewed by Etchells World Champion Andy Beadsworth and America's Cup sailor Simon Fry; reigning French National Champion Louis Urvois with crew Gwen Chapalain and Jean S Ponce; Ireland's Simon Brien, who won the Edinburgh Cup in 2000 and will be crewed by Stephen Milne and David Gomes; and Japan's Bocci Aoyama crewed by Norio Iger and Tetsuya Saski.
Results - Top Five
1. GBR745 - Danish Blue - Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen - 14 points
2. GBR708 - Rumours - Len Jones - 23 points
3. RUS96 - Murka 8 - Mikhail Muratov - 32 points
4. GBR716 - Jerboa - Gavia Wilkinson-Cox - 35 points
5. GBR723 - Gorgeous Worgeous - Jamie Lea/Quentin Strauss - 36 points
Full results here