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Southern Spars

Dragon Gold Cup - The salvation of a light wind

by Véronique Guillou Le Bivic on 23 Aug 2013
Dragon Gold Cup 2013 Jacques Vapillon www.vapillon.com
The fourth day of racing at the Gazprom International Dragon Gold Cup finally started after a long wait out on the water. Not a whisper of a breeze on the horizon until 17h.

Jean Coadou and Jean Gabriel Le CLéac’h, his right-hand man, were keenly studying the horizon and awaiting the arrival of the light wind that had been expected, but which really made them wait, 'We knew that it would come, we just had to be patient, but it was really worth it,' admitted Jean Coadou. And when it came in, the south-westerly wind of ten knots relieved the bay of the searing heat and freed up the 77 teams. After a first general recall, a good start was given to the race under a black flag, but without any disqualification.

At the first upwind mark three boats had gained some advantage on a very staggered fleet DEN 406, GER 88 and GER 1133, and they were all still dominating the game on the second mark rounding. It was an absolutely fabulous performance from Jorgen Schönherr from start to finish, who crossed the line with his two chasers.

'These are excellent sailing conditions, the best we have had in the Gold Cup so far,' the Committee was happy to declare, 'There is wind, sun and beautiful light. Everyone loves it. This is a real race, with a stable wind, not shifty and complicated like we had yesterday.'

At the beginning of the afternoon, Jorgen Schönherr (DEN 406) admitted that he was sailing for pleasure and wasn’t looking to be ranked among the professionals, 'I won the Gold Cup three times put I’ve never been ranked as a pro, and I don’t want to. And I also want people who sail with me to do it for pleasure. If you have a passion, you will commit to it and with a lot of commitment you can achieve good results. We have a good team here and a good spirit.'
Jorgen is a triple winner of the Gold Cup (2003, 2004, 2005).

Dragon sailors are civilised. And as Catia Everhall-Blom (FIN 88) confides,'They are real gentleman.' As one of the few women participating in the Gazprom International Dragon Gold Cup, and in a world often considered very male-dominated, the Dragon class is apparently the exception to the rule, 'We are really treated like princesses,' continues Catia, who sails with an all-female team, 'I think that the Dragon sailors really appreciate the presence of women in the class and unfortunately there aren’t more of us. I take part in all the races every year, and there are probably about 10 females to 150 men sailors.'

Jean Sébastien Ponce, crew member of ITA 56, Giussepe Duca’s Italian boat, had sailed on numerous circuits and a whole number of different classes before he finally settled on the Dragon,'The Dragon class is made up of many owners, who might take on a 25 metre boat if they wanted, but who prefer to join this series, where we can all just go out racing on equal terms. You just need two crew, a car, a trailer and of course a Dragon. It’s a fun international class and there is mostly a really high level of sailors.'

Abram de Wilde (NED 311) sums up quite well the spirit of the series, 'The Gold Cup is a Gentleman’s race, yes,… well, except at the start. The start is so important, that it’s war on the line!' (laugh)

'We have the feel of the Gentleman spirit when we are in a port / starboard priority situation. We generally discuss out on the water to know what the other is going to do. And usually the priority boats cross without the other one having to manoeuvre; and that can happen two or three times in a race. Another example is that a crew will not tack on you to put you in their dirty wind. All this is better for both crews, the race is better if you give each other room. It’s a competition still, but not an aggressive one'.

Jorgen Schönherr (DEN 406) : 'We had a perfect start at the pin end of the line. We went on the left, as I said I would do it this morning and then we’ve been leading, increasing the distance on our competitors during the race. We had a good speed and good tactics in perfect medium conditions. I’m sure this win will make our evening even more enjoyable even though we had a long day! We’ll certainly have a good sleep tonight.

Jorgen Schönherr (African Queen – DEN406) - Before the start : 'I was not happy about our first race. On the second one we were a bit unlucky, we picked the right side, tacked three minutes before the layline on one leg and... it was too early! The boat which went further to tack, grabbed a major shift and passed us. I’m trying to stick to the top 10. That’s the charm of the Gold Cup, you can be at the top of the ranking with 70 (a lot of) points. We’ve been learning a lot since the beginning of the week and we managed to get plenty of information from local sailors - it helps a lot to know the tricks in the bay of Douarnenez!'

Ranking Before Jury (Day four)

1- Jorgen Schönherr (DEN 406)
2- Peter Koenig (GER88)
3- Markus Wieser Dragon Gold Cup website

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