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Simon Brien Crowned Dragon Edinburgh Cup Champion on Home Waters

7th July 2012
Simon Brien Crowned Dragon Edinburgh Cup Champion on Home Waters

#dragon – Poor visibility on Belfast lough cut short the 2012 Edinburgh Cup regatta this morning giving Irish boats first and second overall. Britain's World Dragon Champion Lawrie Smith took third in the 45-boat fleet. The last race was cancelled leaving last night's results to count. Simon Brien's local entry Kin takes the title ahead of last year's winner,  fellow Irish sailor Martin Byrne of Dublin by nine points. The impressive Irish results bode well for the home fleet in September when the Dragon Gold Cup will be sailed in Kinsale.

The day three results therefore stood with five of the six possible races being completed and the champions declared as Brien, brother Mark and David Gomes all from Cultra , the second time they have lifted this historic trophy. In second place was Byrne from Dublin sailing IRL201 Jaguar with Pedro Andrade and Adam Winkelmann, and in third was Smith from Lymington, sailing GBR763 Alfie with Ossie Stewart and Tim Tavinor. Monaco's Jens Rathsack, sailing MON2 with Stefan Waak and Mario Wagner finished fourth with the Solent Fleet's Julia Bailey, Graham Bailey, Dylan Potter and Will Heritage in GBR720 Aimee fifth, and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox also of Cowes, sailing GBR761 Jerboa with Martin Payne and Rui Boya sixth.

Local boys all, the KIN team's performance is all the more remarkable when you bear in mind that Simon was also the regatta's organiser so he had to contend with both tough competition and the water and a very considerable organisational challenge ashore. Their win also stands out because KIN is an all-amateur Corinthian team in a fleet that includes many of the world's top professional sailors including 7 Olympians, several America's Cup veterans and multiple World and Continental Champions.

At the prize giving Simon Brien paid tribute to his fellow competitors and his crew. "What can I say - we're just absolutely so dumb struck that we've won it. Winning in 2000 was great with 22 or 23 boats and we had quite a few of the good guys. This year we have all of our friends from Ireland and England all over the world here and a lot of the really good guys that we look up to so much. To be in there mixing it with them has been just fantastic for us and we've had to pinched ourselves a little bit to be sitting there racing alongside Lawrie Smith and Paul Richard [Hoj-Jensen] and everybody else. I just have to say thanks to Mark and Davey who are my best friends. We have raced Dragons together for 20 years and we just have fun from the minute we step on the boat to the minute we step off, into the bar, what ever, and I just love sailing with you guys so thanks very much."

In the Corinthian Division for the all-amateur sailors second place behind Simon Brien went to Julia Bailey in Aimee and third place was claimed by Owen Pay of the Solent Fleet sailing IRL204 Seabird with Jon Mortimer and Steve Richardson, who were 11th overall.

Simon Brien also praised the way that the class brings together the professional and amateur sailors. "The Corinthian spirit and the professional mix throughout the class is just superb. I think without the professionals we wouldn't have the standard of racing that we have. Keeping that balance and keeping the Corinthians on our toes just makes for the right thing. I know there has been lots of debate about this over the years, but I really think the class made the right decision to keep welcoming professionals into the class."

Alongside the main prizes the Edinburgh Cup also has a number of additional perpetual awards. The Jordan Bell is presented to the highest placed team in the competition who did not finish a race in the top five and this year it goes to Ron and Julia James and Nigel Young in GBR633 Fei-Lin's Flirtation who finished the regatta in 13th overall. The Puffin Plate for boats over 25 years old was presented to GBR436 Sou'wester sailed by John Simms, John Gunning and Alan Morrison. Sou'wester was built in 1967 and finished 3rd in that year's Edinburgh Cup and the entire fleet was delighted to see her racing once again and putting in some very credible results, even leading the fleet at times during the racing.  The Travellers Trophy for the boat travelling the furthest distance was jointly awarded to Bocci Aayama from Japan and to Gordon Ingate and Sandy Anderson from their crews who between them will have clocked up over 30,000 miles to attend the regatta.

When collecting the Jordan Bell Ron James took the opportunity to thank sponsors Belfast Harbour, Brewin Dolphin, Petticrows, North Down Borough Council, Sebago and Stena Line for their most generous support noting "We wouldn't have half as much fun without them!"

Special prizes were also presented to two young men who represent the next generation of Dragon sailors, 11-year-old Will Heritage sailing with Julia Bailey aboard Aimee and 12-year-old Harry Strauss sailing with his parents Quentin and Nikki aboard GBR708 Rumours who finished in 14th. It was great to see such young crews not just sailing in such a strong international fleet, but having the skills and expertise to truly contribute to their teams and finish so well in the regatta. Harry and Will would without doubt jointly have won the keenest hiker award if there was such a thing and the sight of both boys reveling in yesterday's windy conditions was a joy. We look forward to following their progress and welcoming many other youngsters to the class in years to come.

At the prize giving Martin Makey, Chairman of the British Dragon Association, thanked the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club for their hospitality saying, "I lasted visited Belfast 32 years ago in 1980 when I worked for a short while at Harland and Wolff Shipbuilders and it was a very different place then than it is today. But one thing has remained and that is the warmth of the welcome that the people from this part of our country gave me and have given us. So I'd like to say a very big thank you to all the members of this club and to everybody who has been helping us from Northern Ireland for the warmth of the welcome they have given to our members of the British Dragon Association and our visitors over the last two weeks.  Its been a great championship, we've had an outstanding turnout and we're going home very happy sailors."

The Northern Area Championship and Edinburgh Cup in Cultra formed the first two events in the 2012 Brewin Dolphin Irish Grand Slam. From here to crews move onto the Irish Championships in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin from 4-7 June, then the Irish South Coast Championship in Kinsale from 1-2 September and the final event in the series is the Dragon Gold Cup, also in Kinsale, from 8-14 October.

The 2013 Edinburgh Cup will take place from Portland and Weymouth Sailing Academy from 26-30 June and the 2013 Dragon World Championship will also be raced there from 5-13 September.

Top Five Overall

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

Published in Dragon Team

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The Dragon was designed by Johan Anker in 1929 as an entry for a competition run by the Royal Yacht Club of Gothenburg, to find a small keel-boat that could be used for simple weekend cruising among the islands and fjords of the Scandinavian seaboard. The original design had two berths and was ideally suited for cruising in his home waters of Norway. The boat quickly attracted owners and within ten years it had spread all over Europe.

The Dragon's long keel and elegant metre-boat lines remain unchanged, but today Dragons are constructed using the latest technology to make the boat durable and easy to maintain. GRP is the most popular material, but both new and old wooden boats regularly win major competitions while looking as beautiful as any craft afloat. Exotic materials are banned throughout the boat, and strict rules are applied to all areas of construction to avoid sacrificing value for a fractional increase in speed.

The key to the Dragon's enduring appeal lies in the careful development of its rig. Its well-balanced sail plan makes boat handling easy for lightweights, while a controlled process of development has produced one of the most flexible and controllable rigs of any racing boat.

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