by Fiona Brown
Despite an initial three hour postponement, it was eventually possible for the Gazprom International Dragon World Championship race committee to run two further races, races five and six of the series, in a light breeze of 6-10 knots which veered between 240 and 260 degrees. Both races were incredibly challenging with big shifts and constant variations in wind strength and the teams were exhausted on returning ashore just before dark.
Day 5 of the Gazprom International Dragon World Championship 2013
As always getting off the start line and finding a lane in a fleet this big and competitive was a major challenge and those who failed to so this found themselves languishing at the back. Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen was among those whose hopes of a podium position took a turn for the worse today as he added 30 and 45 to his scoreline. Even with the introduction of the discard after the sixth race Hoj-Jensen has dropped from fourth to eighth.
Race five saw Hungary's Ferenc Kis-Szolgyemi rise to the top of the heap for the first time this series in a race where the lead changed on every leg. A 20 degree shift on the first beat effectively shuffled the pack and all the overnight leaders found themselves in the wrong end of the deck. After an intense battle Kis-Szolgyemi eventually beat off all challengers to take victory by a narrow margin from Holland's Peter Heerema with Sweden's Martin Palsson third. Despite rounding the first mark down in the 20s Klaus Diederichs sailed an impressive race to pull up into fourth place while overnight leader Andrey Kirilyuk took ninth.
Acutely aware of the sailor's desire to catch up the programme, which had fallen behind because of the difficult weather conditions, the Race Committee set up for race six as rapidly as possible. With the wind down to around six knots and dusk only a couple of hours away they wisely shortened the course length down to 1.65 miles and went straight to black flag. Sadly Ukraine's Yevgen Braslavets and Sweden's Hans Liljeblad both crossed early and were sent home from the weather mark - frustrating for Braslavets in particular who was leading at the time.
With the wind starting to destabilise as a series of showers swept in there was just sufficient time to complete a two lap course finishing at the top of the second beat. Switzerland's Hugo Steinbeck won the race from Klaus Diederichs who was without doubt man of the day. Third place went to Britain's Mark Dicker, who had finished 65th in race five - once again demonstrating that in a fleet of this quality the difference between a podium finish and down the pan is negligible. Fourth place went to Germany's Nico Reuter with Russia's Victor Fogelson fifth.
In the overall standings Andrey Kirilyuk, crewed by Aleksey Bushuev and Alina Dotsenko has clung onto his lead by just two points having finished 21st in the sixth race, his worst result of the regatta which he immediately discarded. In second is Klaus Diederichs, crewed by Andy Beadsworth and Jamie Lea, who counts 25 points. Markus Wieser added 13 and seven to his scoreline today and discarded a 43rd so now lies in third place, 17 points behind Diederichs. Ferenc Kis-Szolgyemi has moved up into fourth, a single point behind Wieser and Denmark's Lars Hendriksen and Hendrick Witzmann are now both seven points behind Wieser in fifth and sixth respectively.
In the Corinthian Division today's racing and the introduction of the discard threw up some big changes on the leader board. Germany's Philip Dohse was grateful to discard his black flag from race one and thanks to a fourth and fifth he jumps into the lead just one point ahead of Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen. Eight points behind in third place is Remy Arnaud of France with Philipp Ocker, also of Germany, fiver further points back in fourth.
One Corinthian team who didn't have such a great day was Mark and Mandy Wade and Simon Cash from Burnham who went into the day in second overall and came out of it in eleventh. Although disappointed with their results Mark, Mandy and Simon were far from disheartened. After racing they were upbeat saying:
Mark 'The whole fact that we can race against professionals anyway is great, its a good thing for the class, its good for us as Corinthians. Its been a really good challenge. We were disappointed today but tomorrow's another day and if we can get two races in it will be great.'
Mandy 'What's really nice is that there isn't a clear delineation between the pros and the amateurs. We're all racing together on a level playing field and its so difficult. If you fall out of the back of the start its so hard to get back through the fleet. But the racing has been brilliant, the race officer has done a great job.'
Mark 'Absolutely, even if you do slip to the back of the fleet you've got stunning people with you. It's been a real challenge for everybody whether you are pros or amateurs.'
Simon 'At the end of the day its an amateur fleet that has some pros in it and its about the amateurs being able to challenge them, and when you find yourself doing well it gives you a real buzz.'
The other highlight of day five was an informal visit by HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of the Gazprom International Dragon World Championship, who visited Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy to meet members of the worlds organising committee before heading out onto the water to watch some of the racing.
HRH The Princess Royal is an enthusiastic sailor who not only enjoys cruising but also gives a significant amount of her time to the sport through her role as President of the Royal Yachting Association. She has sailed from an early age, from holidaying on board the Royal Yacht Britannia to crewing the Royal offshore racing yacht, Bloodhound. HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh were presented with Bluebottle, a Dragon K192, by the members of the Island Sailing Club on the occasion of their wedding. In 1949 HRH the Duke of Edinburgh donated the Edinburgh Cup which is presented to the winner of the British National Dragon Championships.
Tomorrow's final day schedule has been revised to allow for two races instead of one, starting at 11.00, and with the forecast promising good winds there is every chance of getting the second race started before the 14.00 cut off. With so little separation between both the overall and Corinthian leaders everyone will be hoping for at least one really good race to close the championship in style.
The regatta will continue until Friday 13 September with a maximum of eight races scheduled and a single discard.