Royal St. George Commodore Martin Byrne lifted the Dragon Edinburgh Cup in Abersoch, North Wales tonight after a three way last battle for victory went the Dun Laoghaire crew's way in emphatic style.
The current Irish champions won the pivotal final race by over three minutes in breezes touching 25-knots to become the latest holder of the Edinburgh Cup; the British National Championship.
Martin Byrne steers to victory with crew Adam Winkelmann on spinnaker and Pedro Andrade. Photo: Fiona Brown
Celebrations will continue back in Dun Laoghaire tomorrow as the Dragon helmsman and his crew Adam Winkelmann and Portuguese sailmaker Pedro Andrade mark the significant victory that is a major shot in the arm for Irish Dragon sailing.
The 62-year old trophy is one of the most prestigious in the class along with the Gold Cup of this former Olympic keelboat. The 2012 Gold Cup is slated for Kinsale Yacht Club next year so the weekend win is a another fillip for the class here.
It all went down to the wire for the 43-strong fleet from Japan, Australia, Russia, Ireland and the UK on the final day of the 2011 Dragon Edinburgh Cup, supported by Aberdeen Asset Management, at the South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club in Abersoch. Going into the day Mikhail Muratov and Klaus Diederichs sailing with Irish Star keelboat pair Peter O'Leary and David Burrows were tied for the lead on 16 points, Martin Byrne was on 17 points, Julia Bailey counted 23 and Olga White 28. In the Corinthian fleet Richard Goodbody led Simon Brien by a single point with Patrick Gifford and Nigel Biggs both five points behind them.
There were four attempts at getting the final race, the sixth in the series, started including three under black flag. A total of six teams were disqualified including Olga White, whose hopes of making the podium were immediately dashed. Eventually at the fourth time of asking the fleet got away cleanly for what proved to be the best race of the series with the wind up at around 20 knots from the southwest and some nice big waves which made the runs pretty exciting.
Off the line Byrne got the best start at the committee boat end and was the first to tack off to the right with Diederichs and Muratov following. By the mid point Byrne had already established a lead with Diederichs and Muratov jostling for position on the front edge of the pack. Muratov went further right than Diederichs gaining a significant advantage at the top end of the course and as they rounded the first mark Byrne led with Muratov in fourth and Diederichs seventh.
As Diederichs and Muratove fought their way out of the pack, Byrne established control of the race and clearly had no intention of relinquishing it, gradually stretching away from the fleet. Behind him at the leeward mark Muratov rounded third with Diederichs on his tail in fourth.
On the second beat Byrne extended his lead to some 200 yards, Muratov moved into second and Diederichs third. They held their positions on the second run and up the final beat Byrne was able to maintain a loose cover on the fleet and cruise to a very well deserved victory. As Byrne was enjoying himself out front Muratov and Diederichs were still fighting it out. Meanwhile Simon Brien had been showing bursts of incredible speed to pull up through the fleet and as the fleet came on to the final beat he was challenging Muratov and Diederichs. Brien chose to work the middle whilst the other two went hard right and his move paid off. On the line Byrne and his team looked back to see Muratov finish second, Brien third and Diederichs fourth. Brien's nearest Corinthian challengers Nigel Biggs and Patrick Gifford crossed the line in fifth and thirteenth places.