by Fiona Brown
The 2013 Dragon Edinburgh Cup opening day, supported by Aberdeen Asset Management, ably demonstrated that the Corinthian, all-amateur, teams are more than capable of giving the professionals a run for their money.
2013 Dragon Edinburgh Cup
After a postponement to allow the sea breeze to establish, Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy's Race Committee did an excellent job of running two races for the 41 strong fleet in glorious sunshine as the southwesterly wind built gradually from around 5 to over 10 knots.
Although the day's individual race winners were the professional teams of Klaus Diederichs, sailing with Andy Beadsworth and Jamie Lea, and Ted Sawyer, sailing with Martin Payne and Pedro Arriaga, it was Julia Bailey and her amateur crew of husband Graham Bailey, fourteen year old Will Heritage and Dragon newcomer Keith Tippell, who dominated overall with a 3, 2 scoreline and a 2 point overall lead.
Both lawyers by profession, Graham and Julia's approach to sailing truly epitomises the Corinthian spirit of sailing with family and friends. As a couple they not only sail together, but also rotate helming duties from regatta to regatta with each of them regularly achieving podium finishes. Always keen to bring young blood into their teams, Will Heritage is just the latest in a series of teenagers to have joined the crew. For Keith Tippell this regatta is his first Dragon sailing experience and he comes to the boat from the Cowes Etchells Fleet where he has raced against Graham for many years.
It was definitely the day for family teams as tonight second place overall is held by Ron James and his wife Julia Walsh, who are crewed by top Irish professional Mark Pettitt. Ron and Julia are amongst the most active Dragon owners on the international circuit and can be found at many of the major events each year. Today they finished second in the opening race and followed up with a fifth, which puts them 2 points behind Julia Bailey.
And in third overall we have Julian Sowery and his wife Claire with their crew Neil O'Hagan who were incredibly consistent with their 4, 4, score line which leaves them trailing Ron by a single point and just 3 points behind Julia. Based at the Medway Julian and Claire are typical club sailors who are able to compete at just one or two major events each year so they were delighted with their results today.
And so they should be as the man who lies in fourth place and 6 points behind them is none other than British Olympic Bronze Medallist and reigning Dragon World Champion Lawrie Smith crewed by Ossie Stewart and Tim Tavinor. On equal points but taking fifth on count back is Grant Gordon crewed by Ruaridh Scott and Joost Houweling who both work for North Sails. Klaus Diederichs followed his win in the opening race with a 15th and now lies in sixth with Portugal's Jose Matoso seventh, Gavia Wilkinson-Cox eighth, Marcus Brennecke of Germany ninth and Danish double Olympic Gold Medallist and multiple Dragon Champion Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen tenth.
At the daily prize giving race two winner Ted Sawyer, who will celebrate his 80th birthday next week, received a rousing cheer from the assembled crowed. Ted truly loves the Dragon and has every intention of continuing to race regularly for as long as his body will let him. Alongside the regular racing prizes the special daily prize draw also saw Harry Pynn walk away with a fantastic set of Zhik buoyancy aids for his team and Jenny Stutley claim an 'Emergency Repair Kit' which contained gaffer tape for the boat and bottles of City of London Gin for the crew!
Tomorrow's forecast is for similar warm sunny weather and afternoon sea breezes and the race committee aims to run two further races. The six race series continues until Friday 27 June with a single discard being introduced once five races have been completed.