Irish take the lead
The penultimate day of the 2012 Dragon Edinburgh Cup sponsored by Belfast Harbour brought big winds and big changes in the overall leaderboard. There was just one race to complete so the committee set a full two-mile beat and with the wind gusting up into the high 20s it was to be a day that would truly sort the men from the boys. This fifth race in the series also brought the single discard into play and as a result there were major gains and losses with several of the early favourites dropping out of serious contention while others jumped up the rankings.
The man who made the biggest gain of the day was Simon Brien who went from second overall, ten points behind Julia Bailey, to first overall with a nice but not unassailable nine point lead over fellow Irishman Martin Byrne, who discarded a 39th place in favour of today's eighth to scoot up from ninth into second. Tonight reigning Edinburgh Cup Champion Brien was relieved to still be in contention to defend his title at all. On the start line he was caught up in a major incident caused by another boat and ended up rounding the first mark back in 25th place before fighting his way back up through the fleet.
There are now only four points separating second to fifth and technically any of the top eight boats could still win the regatta. Lawrie Smith finished the race in fourth and moves up into third overall, just two points behind Byrne. A single point behind him is Jens Rathsack who makes an even bigger leap up the scoreboard from 12th to fourth thanks to adding a sixth and discarding an OCS.
For Julia Bailey it was definitely not a good day. She did her best to recover from a lousy start but ended up getting her worst result of the series at 22nd place and drops down from first to fifth overall, one point behind Rathsack. Gavia Wilkinson-Cox put in another very solid performance to finish fifth, but the discards did not work in her favour so she drops from third to sixth overall.
Today's race winner was double Olympic Gold Medallist Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen who took control off the line and never gave a moment's though to relinquishing it as he delighted in the stronger conditions. His win puts him in seventh place overall, four points behind Wilkinson-Cox, and still in with a slim chance of claiming a record equalling sixth Edinburgh Cup title. Andrew Craig is the final player still in with a long shot at the laurels. His ninth place in race five leaves him four points behind Hoj-Jensen but 24 points behind Brien. Rounding out the top ten are Cameron Good and Klaus Diederichs who clearly loved the stronger winds and crossed the line in second place after a spectacular tousle amongst the leading pack.
One final race remains to be sailed tomorrow and with a forecast for lighter winds it remains anyone's championship.
Edinburgh Cup Crews Race
With the championship race completed it was the turn of the crews to take the helm in the traditional Edinburgh Cup crews race which proved to be every bit as cut throat and exciting. One or two of the regular helms found themselves a bit disconcerted to be on the bow in well over 20 knots of breeze but the crews showed no mercy. Henry Kingston sailing Cameron Good's Little Fella was the ultimate victor although he was challenged hard by 11-year-old Will Heritage sailing Julia and Graham Bailey's Aimee. Ross Vaughan sailing Gordon Patterson's Bear took third with Guy Clarabut in Jono Ratnage's Fit Chick hard on his heels. Will Heritage was declared the very deserving winner of the special prize for young helms Under 30.
Top Five After Five Races
1. IRL214 - KIN - Simon Brien - 4, (26), 3, 1, 3 = 11
2. IRL201 - Jaguar - Martin Byrne - 8, 3, 1, (39), 8 = 20
3. GBR763 - Alfie - Lawrie Smith - 11, 2, 5, (26), 4 = 22
4. MON2 - Jeanie - Jens Rathsack - 2, 6, (46 OCS), 9, 6 - 23
5. GBR720 - Aimee - Julia Bailey - 1, 1, 20, 2, (22) = 24