Russia into the lead

Strong start for Mikhail Muratov and Murka 8 at the Dragon's Edinburgh Cup

Wednesday July 13th 2011, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom

Unexpectedly good sailing weather and two hotly contested races opened the 2011 Dragon Edinburgh Cup, supported by Aberdeen Asset Management, in Abersoch today. The forecast had been for beautiful sunshine but very light airs and the 43 crews from Australia, Japan, Russia, Ireland and the UK went afloat in a fickle 2-3 knot breeze with little expectation of good racing. It took several hours to happen, but fortunately the weather gods eventually smiled on the fleet and at around 1400 the wind began to fill in from the north, quickly building to 16-18 knots and more.

Two cut and thrust races were completed in the sparkling conditions and by the end of the day Russia's Mikhail Muratov, sailing Murka 8 with Valentin Uvarkin and Vladimir Krutskikh had taken the overall lead with a second place in the opening race and a win in race two. Muratov's nearest rival tonight is current Irish National Champion Martin Byrne, racing Jaguar with Adam Winkleman and Pedro Andrade, who won the opening race and went on to finish sixth in race two.

Just one point behind Byrne in third overall is defending Edinburgh Cup Champion Klaus Diederichs, who this week is sailing with a brand new crew of Peter O'Leary and Dave Burrows, better known as Ireland's Olympic Star team, who finished second at this year's Bacardi Cup. Fourth place overall is currently a tie between Russia's Olga White sailing Murka 7 with Martin Leifelt and Vadim Statsenko, and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox sailing Jerboa with Martin Payne and Lars Wegener.

In the Corinthian Division, for which only non-professional crews compete, Burnham's Mark and Mandy Wade racing Avalanche with Andrew Norden, lead the fleet and also hold sixth place in the overall standings. Three points behind the Wades is Simon Brien aboard Kin from Cultra, Northern Ireland, sailing with his brother Mark and David Gomes, who also make the overall top ten at eighth place. Just three points separate places three to five in the Corinthian division, which are held by Ireland's Richard Goodbody sailing Diva, Rob Campbell from Burnham sailing Ganador and Owen Pay from Cowes aboard Nijord.

It was a good day all round for the Corinthian teams who certainly gave the pros plenty to think about. The prize for best performance in a single race by a Corinthian boat undoubtedly goes to Owen Pay and his crew of Jon Mortimer and Steve Richardson for their impressive third place in race two. They got a fine start and put together a controlled first beat to round the weather mark in third place hot on the heels of Julia Bailey and Mikhail Muratov. Despite being under constant attack from both Klaus Diederichs and Martin Byrne, Pay and his team kept their heads and not only successfully defended their position all the way to the finish but at times also put significant pressure on the leading pair.

The Dragon is very much an equal opportunities class and not only are female helms no longer a novelty, but they are now regularly beating the boys at their own game at international level. In race two Cowes' Julia Bailey, sailing Aimee with husband Graham Bailey and David Heritage, came off the line like a scalded cat and sailed a near perfect beat to round the weather mark in first place neck and neck with Mikhail Muratov. From here on in a dogfight of epic proportions developed with neither boat giving an inch. The two boats rounded every mark neck and neck and were almost constantly overlapped. Bailey threw everything but the kitchen sink at Muratov on the final beat, but she also had to work extremely hard to keep the chasing Owen Pay at bay. The boats traded tacks all the way into the finish, but while she held off Pay it enabled Muratov to take victory on the line. A slightly disappointing 18th place in race one means that Bailey now lies in seventh place overall and she is joined in the top ten by two more top female helms, Olga White and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, who share equal points after the opening day and find themselves battling it out for fourth place overall.

Abersoch and the South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club are proving to be most enthusiastic and generous hosts for this event and many of the competitors have remarked that while the racing is as cut and thrust as any on offer, the atmosphere surrounding the regatta is wonderfully relaxed and harks back to a bygone era. Perhaps it's because the boats are on swinging moorings and the crews are ferried out and back by club launches, perhaps it's the impressive way in which the club members and the local Abersoch Dragon Fleet have clearly pulled together to run the event on an entirely voluntary basis, perhaps it's the incredible hospitality and helpfulness being shown to all competitors, or perhaps it's just that there is something a little bit magical about Abersoch with its majestic mountain backdrop, sandy beaches and unique micro-climate, but what ever it is the Dragon fleet like it and want more please!

And more they can have as racing continues until Saturday 16 July with up to five more races scheduled. The forecast for the coming three days is for moderate to strong winds. Two races are scheduled for Thursday and Friday and a single race is scheduled for Saturday.


Pos Sail No Boat Helm R1 R2 Tot
1 RU98 Murka 8 Mikhail Muratov 2 1 3
2 IRL201 Jaguar Martin Byrne 1 6 7
3 GBR758 Fever Klaus Diederichs 3 5 8
4 RUS89 Murka 7 Olga White 4 12 16
5 GBR761 Jerboa Gavia Wilkinson-Cox 9 7 16
6 GBR722 Avalanche Mark Wade 5 13 18
7 GBR720 Aimee Julia Bailey 18 2 20
8 IRL212 Kin Simon Brien 17 4 21
9 IRL207 Christianna Olaf Sorensen 7 14 21
10 GBR690 Blue Movie David Atkinson 12 9 21
11 IRL210 Diva Richard Goodbody 13 10 23
12 GBR704 Ganador Rob Campbell 8 16 24
13 GBR653 Njord Owen Pay 22 3 25
14 GBR708 Rumours Len Jones 14 11 25
15 DGBR717 Nereid Patrick Gifford 21 8 29
16 IRL176 Phantom Clare Hogan 10 21 31
17 IRL162 Puca Nigel Biggs 16 15 31
18 GBR744 Tigger Tim Tavinor 6 27 33
19 GBR755 Scimitar Julian Sowry 24 17 41
20 GBR760 Hands Off Mike Holmes 23 19 42
21 GBR590 Mystere James Peters 20 22 42
22 GBR633 Fei-Lin's Flirtation Ron James 19 26 45
23 GBR747 Valkyrie Stewart Cortari 11 35 46
24 GBR655 Phormerly Phantom Chris Taylor 29 18 47
25 GBR742 Flotation Richard Davies 25 24 49
26 DB508 Atalanta Jamie Uren 33 23 56
27 GBR711 Leah Brian Holland 26 30 56
28 GBR710 Alcyone Simon Winn 27 29 56
29 IRL213 Whisper Michael Cottor 28 28 56
30 JPN50 Yevis Bocci A. Aoyama 32 25 57
31 ANT10 Bella Edward Fort 38 20 58
32 AUS206 Whimsey Gordon Ingate 15 DNF44 59
33 GBR622 Merlin Robert Ridell 31 31 62
34 GBR764 Naiad Michael Hayles 30 34 64
35 GBR564 Djinn Nick Whipp 37 32 69
36 K575 Hagrid Huw Foulkes 34 36 70
37 GBR699 Gitane Colin Brereton 39 33 72
38 GBR759 Sanuk Nicholas Jordan 35 39 74
39 K573 Thunder Ian MacMillan 36 40 76
40 GBR557 Amazon Graham Price 41 37 78
41 GBR623 Musketeer Andy Brook 40 38 78
42 GBR599 Secret Steve Harral DNF44 DNF44 88
42 IRL157 Tenacious Anthony O'Neill DNF44 DNC44 88




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