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 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, Bryne 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.
Martin Byrne and his crew of Pedro Andrade and Adam Winklemann sailing Jaguar were declared 2011 Dragon Open British Champions and winners of the historic Edinburgh Cup. Second place overall went to Russia’s Mikhail Muratov sailing Murka 8 with Valentin Uvarkin and Vladimir Krutskikh, and in third was Klaus Diederichs sailing Fever with Peter O’Leary and David Burrows.
Simon Brien was awarded the Edinburgh Cup Corinthian Trophy with Richard Goodbody sailing Diva with Rick and Rob Johnson in second, Nigel Biggs sailing Puca with Franz Rothschild and Pete Evans third, Patrick Gifford with Harry Pynn and Edward Streeter in Nereid fourth and Julian Sowry fifth.
Corinthian Results here
The penultimate day of racing may have featured only one race, but what a race it was. For the first time this week the wind was well up into double figures and the 43 strong Dragon fleet was able to enjoy a long course with beats of 2 miles plus – the class’s preferred format for championship racing.
It was a definite case of snakes and ladders on the leader board with many of the top boats having difficult races. Overnight leader Mikhail Muratov found himself buried in 21st at the first weather mark and had to dig very deep to claw his way back up the fleet. Fortunately the race committee was running a full five leg course giving the fleet a third long beat to the finish, which gave him enough room to get through the main pack and cross the line in eighth place.
Martin Byrne and Klaus Diederichs, with Peter O’Leary and David Burrows on board, lying fourth and fifth respectively going into the race, both managed to do rather better on the first beat, rounding side by side in the low teens and then moving their way up the fleet into the top ten. On the finish line Byrne took third with Diederichs seventh.
Julia Bailey and Olga White, who went into the day in second and third respectively, both also had disappointing first beats with White rounding in 23rd and Bailey in 30th. Both crews sailed their socks off and made good headway through the pack but ultimately, despite the longer race length and the third beat they simply ran out of runway and couldn’t break through. Bailey gained the most ground finishing in 17th place, just one place behind White who had made it to 16th.
Meanwhile there was an exciting battle going on at the front of the fleet featuring a number of the top Corinthian teams. At the first mark it was extremely close with Richard Goodbody leading followed by Patrick Gifford. Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, Ted Fort, David Atkinson, Owen Pay and Rob Campbell. The boats were nose to tail the whole way round the track and Goodbody was facing challenges from all sides. He managed to hold his pursuers at bay until the closing stages of the final beat when the battle simple overwhelmed him and he made what proved to be a fateful tacking error which ultimately not only lost him the lead but dropped him back into fifth place, Gifford stormed to victory with Wilkinson-Cox, Byrne and Atkinson chasing him over the line.
With the discard coming into play there has been a big shuffle on the scoreboard and the scene was all set for an exciting final race showdown. Whilst Mikhail Muratov still technically leads the regatta he is now on equal 16 points with second placed Klaus Diederichs and Martin Byrne is just a single point behind them on 17. Julia Bailey has dropped into fourth on 23 points with Olga White in fifth on 28 points.
The fight for the Corinthian Trophy, which is scored as a separate series, is so tight that whilst in the overall standings Simon Brien leads Richard Goodbody by four points, in the Corinthian standings Goodbody leads Brien by a single point. Thanks to his race five win Patrick Gifford is now lying in third place five points behind Brien and on equal points with Nigel Biggs.
With just one more race to complete today a thrilling conclusion to the regatta is expected and the Dragons are looking forward to saying a spectacular farewell to Abersoch and the South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club who have organized such a wonderful regatta.
Corinthian Results here
Report: Fiona Brown.