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Hoj-Jensen has clear lead at Dragon Gold Cup

23rd July 1997
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wins from two races gave Denmark's Pol Rickard Hoj-Jensen a clear lead in the Dragon Gold Cup in Dun Laoghaire yesterday but the results sheet hid a complicated protest situation as late yesterday evening Dublin Bay sailors were spearheading an attempt to have Monday's abandoned race reinstated. Hoj-Jensen's results, on paper, may look impressive but, both on and off the water, Irish crews were among those standing between the Dane and his ambition to win the cup for a fourth time. Five protests were filed yesterday against the decision to scrub Monday's race which Royal Irish helmswoman Clare Foley won in breathtaking fashion. After a one hour postponement yesterday the Royal St. George's Robin Hennessy in Rascal Rat led the fleet after a good first beat using the right hand side of the course. Crewed by Des Cummins and Philip Watson, Hennessy rounded the first kick mark third. The downwind leg was a fitful affair where boats in the middle of the course suffered most. Early rounders could only look on in desperation as boats fanned out on the wings of the course sailed past. The top ten or so boats rounded the leeward mark and got clear away with the help of the tidal stream but the balance of the fleet, tightly knit in their own wind shadow, rounded the leeward gate simultaneously. Boats collided and protest flags were raised. Huge place changes occurred.
Meanwhile a decision to gybe set under spinnaker and pick up an increased breeze on the left hand side of the course proved correct and saw Rascal Rat move into the lead, a position the Irishmen defended in the five to seven knot breeze until the final leg of the course where, despite wind holes in the sea breeze, they were forced to split tacks and cover the competitors who they believed were the biggest threat. They chose to cover the American champion Glenn Foster and let Hoj-Jensen, over a minute behind them, loose on the right hand side of the course. However, Demark's Olympic medallist had spotted more pressure on the right of the course and together with a 10 degree wind shift in the Dane's favour he turned a poor fourth position into his second successive victory. The Rascal Rat crew tried to hold on to second but, in a dying south easterly breeze, were unable to stop both the American and another Dane, Lars Jensen, coming between them and the finish line. Ashore, those crews who fared well in Monday's abandoned race are pressing hardest for some form of redress. They argue the result should be reinstated, saying the conditions were the same for everyone and that a fair first beat produced leaders who maintained their lead throughout the course.
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