The penultimate day of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup 2017, produced one truly extraordinary race which shook the leader board up and leaves four boats in close contention going into the final race. Ireland's Martin Byrne from the Royal St. George Yacht Club of Dun Laoghaire has moved back up the leaderboard in the 38–boat fleet to seventh overall after a well–earned victory in race five. Download overall results below.
As they set off for the race area, the competitors found that the forecast north-westerly was instead an extremely shifty south-easterly of around 10-12 knots. Even seasoned locals famed for their ability to read the Solent's vagaries with ease have found themselves struggling to make sense of the apparently random shifts this week and today was no different. Recently crowned Dragon World Champion and Solent local Andy Beadsworth summed the situation up with a wry smile saying, "It's a little bit harder to win here that it was [at the Worlds] in Cascais! It's home waters and I thought I knew what was going on in the Solent, so I thought I knew how to go the right way, but we're getting it wrong with monotonous regularity."
Beadsworth, sailing TUR1212 Provezza Dragon with Simon Fry and Ali Tezdiker, had had a disastrous race four and went into the day in fourth place on 31 points. Ahead of him were Igor Goikhberg in RUS98 Murka with Dmitry Berezkin and Roman Sadchikov in third on 26 points, Poul Richard Hoj-Jenson in GBR813 Danish Blue with Paul Blowers and Hamish McKay on 21 points and Martin Payne in GBR585 Full Speed with Gillian Hamilton and Chris Britten leading on 16 points.
With seconds to go, Beadsworth shot clear of the pack, which was holding back for fear of being pushed over the line by the tide, midline and was able to tack onto port and port tack most of the right side of the fleet. It was almost impossible to keep up with who was leading, as the big shifts pushed boats down snakes and up ladders constantly. At one point Payne looked good on the left, but he ended up virtually last around the weather mark. Meanwhile, Martin Byrne and his team of Pedro Andrade and Conor Byrne in IRL216 Jaguar had done the best job of picking their way through the minefield to lead Graham Bailey, sailing GBR782 Aimee with Julia Bailey, Will Heritage and Will Bedford, off down the first run, with Goikhberg a very close third. Beadsworth and Hoj-Jensen both rounded just inside the top ten.
From here on in Byrne kept clear air and extended his lead, but Bailey had his work cut out to keep the pack at bay as Beadsworth and Hoj-Jensen dug deep to fight their way to the front. As the boats closed the line at the end of the third and final beat, Byrne took a comfortable victory from Bailey with Tom Vernon in GBR810 Badger crewed by Oliver Spensley-Corfield and Adam Bowers third. Beadsworth had made his way up to fourth, Dmitry Bondarenko in Hauschreckeand with Vadim Statsenko and Alexander Shalagin was fifth, Hoj-Jensen sixth and Goikhberg seventh, but Payne unable to do better than 20th, which he immediately discarded.
So the showdown in tomorrow's remaining race is going to be a humdinger. Bailey tops the leader board with 12 points, Hoj-Jensen is on 14, Beadsworth 15 and Payne 16. The forecast for that final race is 12 gusting 20 knots from the north-west, but we're beginning to learn that what is forecast and what we get are not necessarily related this week so stand by and watch this space.
After sailing the crews once again repaired to the Island Sailing Club's terrace where the daily prize giving included the presentation of the Crews Race Trophy, which went to Nigel Cole sailing Avalanche, and the Youngest Sailor Trophy which went to Will Heritage of Aimee. The prize giving was followed by the final special raffle draw of the event. Over £30,000 of prizes have been given away in the draw, for which all boats are eligible, and the top prize of a Petticrows Dragon radio model yacht was drawn tonight. One of the rules of the draw is that if the winning person is not present to collect their prize then they miss their turn and another ticket is drawn. Tim Tavinor of Petticrows assisted Regatta Chairman Gavia Wilkinson-Cox by drawing the winning ticket, but the name read out elicited no response and so Tim went in for a second ticket. As he read out the name Furious a huge cheer went up and owner Owen Pay was for once completely lost for words and clearly absolutely delighted with his new toy.
Today's final race is programmed to get underway at 11.00 and the regatta will conclude with the Edinburgh Cup 2017 Prize Giving Dinner Dance at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.