Down to the wire for Fever
The last race showdown for the 2010 Dragon Edinburgh Cup in Cowes, hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes, was a spectacular affair with the overall results of the regatta being decided on the final finish line. Russia's Olga White was the star of that sixth race, winning in impressive style to take third overall in the regatta. But while Olga led the fleet, the other big story of the day was happening back down the course as a dogfight of epic proportions took place between Germany's Klaus Diederichs, and Denmark's Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen for the right to go home with the Edinburgh Cup. The two went into the final race in first and second position respectively with just one point separating them and they proceeded to give the watching spectators a truly edge of the seat experience as they fought it out for supremacy.
Klaus Diederichs, who sailed NOR272 Fever with Andy Beadsworth and Simon Fry takes up the story: "We needed to make sure that Poul Richard was not coming in the top three, so that was our race strategy for the day. We didn't have a good start at all and we missed him at the start. He went off to the left, we went to the right but had a good wind shift in our favour and we could basically tack back on him and he was by that time already quite a bit down the fleet and we said OK from now on we just need to control Poul.
"But Poul was steaming through the fleet and we were hanging onto him and he got ahead of us literally just a couple of hundred metres before the second weather mark and from then on we had to chase him and make sure he doesn't climb up the fleet very fast as he normally does. And so we sailed downwind and the breeze got better and that was really good for us so he couldn't run away and we rounded the leeward mark just literally a boat [length] ahead of him. From then on it was a real match race, the last beat was a total match race up until the finishing line and with the breeze increasing it was really interesting sailing."
Diederichs crossed the line in 14th place just a few inches ahead of Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen, sailing GBR745 Danish Blue with Theis Palm and Andrew Norden, to claim the historic Edinburgh Cup, presented to the Dragon Class for their Open British Championship by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh in 1949. Poul Richard-Hoj Jensen took second place overall and Olga White completed the podium line-up.
Olga White's challenge for that third place was a tough one too, but she rose to the challenge with confidence and style. Technically six people had the possibility to take third overall going into the final race. Lawrie Smith had held the position over night; White was seven points behind him in fourth, with Simon Brien two points behind her in fifth. Also still just in contention were Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, Mikhail Muratov and Louis Urvois.
White, sailing RUS69 Murka 7 with Vadim Statsenko and Martin Leifelt, got an excellent start and opted for the right side of the beat while most of her challengers went left. The race got underway just as the sea breeze was starting to come in and this resulted in a massive right-hander on the first beat. At the first mark White rounded just ahead of Julia Bailey with Mikhail Muratov third, Len Jones fourth, Mike Hayles fifth and Jamie Lea sixth. Both Smith and Brien had found themselves on the wrong side of the shift and Brien rounded in 19th place while Smith almost brought up the rear of the fleet in 29th. All White had to do now was hold onto a good position and pray that neither Smith nor Brien could pull off a major jump on the fleet.
Ultimately White successfully defended her lead all the way to the finish although she had to sail her socks off to do it with a hard fought tacking duel against Jones and Lea lasting the length of the final beat. On the line White took the honours, Jones finished second and Lea third. Brien and Smith did their best with Brien managing to pull back up into 10th place and Smith into 19th, but it wasn't anywhere near enough and so Ireland's Simon Brien, sailing Kin with Stephen Milne and David Gomes, took fourth place overall and Lawrie Smith, sailing GBR751 Alfie with Ossie Stewart and Bill Masterman, was fifth.
Speaking after racing Olga White was delighted with her first podium finish at an International Dragon Ranked Event. "It's the first time we've won a race in a regatta of this size, grade two or above, and it's the first time we've been on the podium so it's fantastic." She also joked about the competition between herself and husband and Murka team mate Mikhail Muratov saying, "Of course there's a little bit of rivalry between the two of use, although we never do anything nasty to each other, but we still like to win between the two of us so we have two races going on, one between me and Mischa and the other race as well. Mischa's getting a bit upset about being recognised as the person that's always following his wife - so we'll try and keep that up!"
In the Corinthian Division for the all-amateur crews Ireland's Simon Brien, took overall victory from local Solent sailor Eric Williams, sailing Ecstatic with Joanna Richardson and Rory Patten. Cowes Dragon Fleet Captain Richard Cullen, sailing Supremacy with Alex Dobson and Matthew Hill, rounded out the Corinthian top three. The Corinthian Division is a new introduction to the Dragon fleet and the organisers were delighted that it generated such an enthusiastic response with a third of the fleet qualifying to compete. Speaking after racing Richard Cullen said, "I was delighted how well some of the Corinthian sailors were doing against the professionals at times this week. It's really important for us to encourage the Corinthian teams as without them the grass roots of local Dragon fleets around the world will not be able to continue to build world class events with good numbers of competitors. Congratulations to Simon and Eric - we've had fantastic racing all week."
At the final prize giving Regatta Chairman Colonel Tony Singer paid tribute to all the many volunteers who had worked tirelessly to make this event such a huge success. This was without doubt the most competitive fleet ever assembled for a Dragon Edinburgh Cup and this combined with outstanding race management, a superb social programme and exceptional weather conditions ensured that not only was it the most competitive, but that it was also one of the most enjoyable. He thanked the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club who hosted the regatta, the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club, Royal London Yacht Club, Island Sailing Club, Royal Yacht Squadron and Sir Max Aitken Museum, which all hosted social events for the sailors during the week and Aberdeen Asset Management for their generous ongoing sponsorship support of the British Dragon Association and the Edinburgh Cup.
Although sadly unable to attend the prize giving, Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, sent a message to the competitors and the organisers saying "Congratulations to Edinburgh Cup winner Klaus Diederichs and his crew. We're delighted to continue our support of the British Dragon Association and the Edinburgh Cup. Well done to everyone involved in the organisation of this outstanding event."
The South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club, Abersoch, will host the 2011 Dragon Edinburgh Cup, which will be held between 13-16 July 2011.
Overall Top Five
1. NOR272 - Fever - Klaus Diederichs - 13 pts
2. GBR745 - Danish Blue - Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen - 19 pts
3. RUS69 - Murka 7 - Olga White - 25 pts
4. IRL212 - Kin - Simon Brien - 32 pts
5. GBR751 - Alfie - Lawrie Smith - 34 pts
Full results here