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Royal St. George's Byrne Stays in Top Ten After Four Races of Dragon Edinburgh Cup

13th July 2017
Martin Byrne (IRL 201) competing on day two of the Edinburgh Cup in Cowes Martin Byrne (IRL 201) competing on day two of the Edinburgh Cup in Cowes Credit: Fiona Brown

What a difference a day makes! After the opening day's torrential rain and strong winds, day two of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup 2017, hosted by the Island Sailing Club, Cowes, produced light airs, brightening skies and a complete reversal of fortune for a number of the competitors. Ireland's only entry at the Cup sits in tenth place in the 38–boat fleet after Royal St. George's Martin Byrne, Conor Byrne and Pedro Andrade scored a 9 and 15 yesterday. Download full results after four races below.

By the time Race Officer Gill Smith had the fleet under starters order for the third race of the series, the wind was predominantly circa 10–knots but with gusts up to around 17, lulls down to 6 and big shifts around a mean of nor-nor-east. The wind continued to fluctuate throughout the day and there was the added bonus of an exceptionally big spring tide turning between races, so the committee did particularly well to achieve two excellent courses.

Dmitry Bondarenko's regatta had got off to a lousy start when he hit is head so badly on the boom that he had to withdraw from both of yesterday's races and return ashore for treatment. With a neat line of stitches in his forehead and a smart new Slam crash helmet, Dmitry and his crew of Vadim Statsenko and Alexander Shalagin, perhaps better known as the European World Championship winning crew of Anatoly Loginov, sailing GBR422 Hauschrecke, proved that you don't need local knowledge to sail well in the Solent by winning both races. Sadly, their double DNS from day one means that they only make 20th in the overall standings.

Going into the day Andy Beadsworth, Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen and Martin Payne were in a three way tie for the lead on six points apiece. All three are world class sailors, but on paper Beadsworth, as recently crowned Dragon World Champion, should have had the upper hand. But even the best in the world can have an off day and that was certainly the case for Beadsworth today.

In race three, Solent racing legend Eric Williams, aboard GBR683 Ecstatic with Katie Cole and Rory Patton, led the fleet at the weather mark, with Bondarenko, Graham Bailey sailing GBR782 Aimee with Julia Bailey, Will Heritage and Will Bedford, and Igor Goikhberg sailing RUS98 Murka with Dmitry Berezkin and Roman Sadchikov, hard on his heels. This group fought it out for the remainder of the race with Bondarenko eventually gaining the upper hand from Bailey, Goikhberg and then Williams who all crossed the line within thirty seconds. Beadsworth, and his worlds winning crew of Simon Fry and Ali Tezdiker in TUR1212 Provezza Dragon, followed the leaders in on the front of edge the chasing pack for fifth.

As the boats hardened up to cross the start line for race four, Beadsworth looked terrific at the committee boat end, almost a boat length ahead of his nearest rival. Sadly, a big right-hander, which only seemed to affect the left side of the line in the closing minute of the sequence, meant that those who'd started at the pin made huge gains immediately and there was absolutely nothing those on the right could do about it. 

Gaining most at the pin end was Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, sailing GBR761 Jerboa with Mark Hart and Andrew Nordon, closely followed by Rob Gray, Kay Tavinor and John Greenwood in GBR448 Tarka II and Williams. All three flipped rapidly onto port, crossed the fleet and rounded the weather mark first, second and third respectively. Behind them Beadsworth turned onto the first run around 12th and gybed off in an attempt to get back in the game. Sadly, that attempt did not work and by the leeward mark he was well down the fleet and struggling to gain any traction. Bondarenko won the race with Hoj-Jensen second, Wilkinson-Cox third, Martin Payne, sailing GBR585 Full Speed with Gillian Hamilton and Chris Britton, fourth and Jono Brown in GBR770 Storm crewed by David and Lynette Brown and Frances Wood fifth. Back down the pack Beadsworth was trying it all, but evrything just seemed to end in disaster and he finished the race in 20th place.

In the overall standings, the single discard will not come into play until after tomorrow's fifth race has been completed. As a result, Payne now leads the fleet by five points from Hoj-Jensen with Goikhberg third and Beadsworth fifth. But Payne is realistic and knows that had the discard come into play today Hoj-Jensen would actually be leading the regatta with Beadworth second and himself third. Payne summed up the complexity of today's sailing perfectly saying, "It's like a chess game, you have to think three or four moves ahead, and even then it could still be wrong. It's going to be a tough regatta."

Mike Budd was runner up at the 2016 Edinburgh Cup and with his crew of Mark Greaves and Irish Olympian Mark Mansfield from Royal Cork came into the regatta with high hopes. With four of the six scheduled races now complete he lies in a somewhat disappointing ninth place. Asked what he feels is different about this year's event he commented, "We're not doing as well as we'd hoped, to be honest, because the standard is so good. It's a really hot fleet, we're really enjoying the racing."

Apres sail, the teams repaired to the Island Sailing Club terrace to enjoy the Edinburgh Cup Drink of the Day, a delicious Hendricks Gin & Fever Tree Tonic served with a slice of cucumber, and the company of good friends in the sunshine. Once again the daily prize giving was followed by a special draw with yet more happy Dragon sailors going home with fabulous goodies. 

Tomorrow's forecast is for a west-nor-westerly breeze that will clock round to the north-west during the morning at 14 gusting 22 knots. Championship race five is due to start at 11.00 and will be followed by the traditional Edinburgh Cup crews race. A total of six championship races are scheduled and the regatta continues until Friday 15 July.

Top ten after four races:

  1. Full Speed, Martin Payne Gillian Hamilton, Chris Bittain, GBR
    2. Danish Blue, Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen, Hamish McKay, Paul Blowers, GBR
    3. Murka, Igor Goikhberg, Dmitry Berezkin, Roman Sadchikov, RUS
    4. Provezza Dragon, Andy Beadsworth, Simon Fry, Ali Tezdiker, TUR
    5. Badger, Tom Vernon, Oliver Spensley-Corfield, Adam Bowers, GBR
    6. Ecstatic, James Eric Williams, Rory Paton, Katie Cole, GBR
    7. C Aimee, Graham Bailey, Julia Bailey, Will Heritage, Will Bedford, GBR
    8. Harry, Mike Budd, Mark Greaves, Mark Mansfield, GBR
    9. Jerboa, Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, Mark Hart, Andrew Norden, GBR
    10. Jaguar Martin Byrne Connor, Byrne, Pedro Andrade, IRL
Published in Dragon
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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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