International Dragons – First day a tough day at the office

Top mark action on Day One. - International Dragon Class World Championship
International Dragon Class World Championships.

A Sou’sou’east breeze of 16 to 18 knots for the duration of the race meant it was a tough day at the office for all of the 75 crews competing in the International Dragon Class World Championships. The Race Management team chose to go slightly offshore, but directly in front of Royal Brighton Yacht Club.

Victorious on the day was the British crew aboard Alfie. The skipper is Lawrie Smith and crew of Ossie Stewart and Petticrow’s (the boatbuilder) owner, Tim Tavinor. They had been at or near the top of the fleet for every mark rounding and then stayed out right for the last work home, to the finish. They also finished sixth last week in the Prince Philip Cup, so it shows that the competition at the top of the fleet is very real and goes a long way down the entry list, just as Joergen Shoenherr said after winning last week’s event. Lawrie Smith said immediately after the win, 'It was a great day’s sailing, but it is a long way to go. Happy with the result, however.'

Alfie, Lawrie Smith, Ossie Stewart and Tim Tavinor on the way to today's win - International Dragon Class World Championship

The Principal Race officer, Kevin Wilson, said of the day, 'It was a great breeze that hung in all day at 170 to 175 degrees with just the normal phase swings, which provided for a really nice racetrack. We have a couple of protests that have been lodged. One is from the Race Committee against GER 1002, skippered by Andreas Lohmann, for non-compliance with the wearing of personal flotation devices.

The race was a little over two hours in duration with just the one vessel over the start line at the beginning. The crew aboard Australian crew aboard, Liquidity was 50 metres short of coming back over the line when they resumed racing. After notification of this error, they retired from racing for the day. The first beat was 2.5 nautical miles in duration and then went to 1.8nm for the next two works to windward. On the days where we have one race we will aim to be on the track for two hours and where we have two races in a day, this will be shortened to around 90 minutes each.' At the post race results announcements, spectator vessels were also reminded to keep an appropriate distance from the action, after one vessel came in too close at the finish line.

There are five Danish crews participating in these World Championships. When asked about the newest members of their Royal Family, Joergen Schoenherr, Theis Palm and Axel Waltersdorph from African Queen, who were last week’s victors, all said simultaneously, 'It is fantastic news and great for you too – they’re half Aussie!'

Today’s racing had the leaders taking the right side of the course for the first work to windward. Also amongst the leaders was another of the Danish crews, Flawless, along with the Ukrainian crew from Bunker Queen. The last boat on the first time at the bottom mark was the Australian entry, Aquila. However, making it in to the top ten at this point was former world champion Thomas Müller and crew of Vincent Hoesch and Michael Lipp aboard, Sinewave.

Alex McKinnon is just about to catch to tow rope to tow the broken down Jury Boat out of the way. - International Dragon Class World Championship

Most of the fleet then worked up the centre of the course for the next work and by the top mark, Andrew York’s Australian entry, Wizzardry was a member of the top ten roundings. It was at the bottom mark for the second time when the International Jury’s boat ceased to work and they were quickly retrieved by another course boat and dragged out of the way of the bulk of the fleet that were still to come down. West Australian entry and former Prince Philip Cup holder, Richard Lynn, certainly knew all about this, as they sailed by.

For the last run uphill, the leaders went out to the right side of the course, while a band of hopefuls pushed out to the extreme left. By the time they all got to the top, it was evident that the right had paid. Behind Lawrie Smith were Jens Christensen and crew with Out Of Bounds in second, then Anatoly Loginov aboard Annapurna, Richard Lynn and Puff-eu. In fifth place today were Flawless, the Danish crew of Stig Lassen, Karsten Hey and Soeren Hvalsoe.

Racing is scheduled to begin at 1pm on Monday, January 10, 2011. The strong Sou’easterly breezes of over 25 knots, which are expected in the morning, may see this slightly delayed, as they are meant to abate as the afternoon progresses.

You can watch the International Dragon action from the Middle Brighton pier, the Royal Brighton Yacht Club café and upstairs balcony. All visitors welcome.