Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen wins Dragon Edinburgh Cup for fourth time 31/5/06

It was snakes and ladders in shifty airs yesterday for the final race of the 2006 Dragon Edinburgh Cup at Cowes. After Monday’s extreme conditions the 36 crews from 7 nations were delighted to find a moderate but cold wind and only a light chop when they got to the racecourse.

After a short delay while the race committee adjusted the line the fleet was away with an individual recall. The top teams favoured the left-hand end of the line and then tacked into the north shore to take advantage of the wind bend. For the first half of the beat this looked like the smart move but then a huge left-hander turned the race inside out. At the weather mark Rob Campbell aboard Quicksilver III headed the fleet with James Mehew, Graham Bailey and Richard Jordan dropping in behind him.

On the first run Campbell opened up a bit on the pack and on the second lap he kept a loose cover to control the race whilst his nearest competitors vied for second. On the final beat another massive shift caught out lots of people but Ireland’s Simon Brien spotted his moment and slipped into the lead. As he crossed the line he and his crew were delighted with their win, which they believed gave them second place overall. Sadly it transpired that Brien had been OCS at the start and, having failed to re-cross the line, was disqualified from the race pushing him down into sixth overall.

Brien’s disqualification meant that Cambell, crewed by Jonathan Hill and Matt Walker, actually took the final race honours with Russia’s Alexey Krylov second, Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen third and Graham Bailey fourth.

Elsewhere on the course Graham Bailey’s young nieces Katie 12 and Anna 15 were racing against each other in Dragons for the first time. Sisterly rivalry was encouraged by their skippers who allowed both the girls to helm in the pre-start and for part of the race. In the end if was youth that won the day with Katie and her fellow crew members owner Chris Dicker and father Richard Bailey beating big sister Anna who was sailing aboard Edward Sawyer’s Clairvoyant with Lars Hendrikson and Will Willett. Anna’s disappointment at being beaten by her younger sister may be slightly eased by knowing how impressed Lars and Will, both highly experienced and successful Dragon sailors, were with her abilities. “She was really confident in the pre-start and got the boat onto the line beautifully before handing over to Lars. She’s a great little sailor in the making.” said Will Willet back ashore.

Despite the frequently difficult conditions the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club’s Race Committee, led by PRO Ian Lallow, successfully completed all six of the scheduled races whilst Tony O’Gorman and his protest committee ensured fair play in the protest room.

In the overall standings Denmark’s Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen sailing Danish Blue takes the Edinburgh Cup (the Open British Dragon National Championship) for the fourth time with 12 points. A double Olympic gold medallist and multiple World, European and National Champion in Dragons, Etchells, H-boats, Quarter Ton and many other classes, Hoj-Jensen was crewed by his regular team of Chris Britten and Andrew Nordon, each of whom also have a string of Dragon championship wins to their names. Second place with 17 points goes to the Russian Alexey Krylov aboard Versiya 3.0 crewed by Vlad Kapitonov and Anatoly Karachinsky with Germany’s Thomas Muller and crew Martin Payne and Mario Wagner sailing Sinewave into third on 22 points.

Despite the difficult conditions the event was declared a huge success with all the teams enjoying both great racing and great camaraderie. At the prize giving the first order of business was the Edinburgh Cup Prizegiving Raffle where prizes totalling some £2,000 went to Graham Bailey, Rob Gray, Mike Holmes and Alexey Krylov. Alongside the principle trophies the Edinburgh Cup also has a number of speical awards including the First Female Helmsman which went to Cowes Fleet Captain Gavia Wilkinson-Cox who finished in eight place.

In accepting the Edinburgh Cup Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen gave recognition to the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and to the organisers including giving praise for the new four day format. There was also special mention for the Russian teams taking part in the Edinburgh Cup for the first time.

The dramas of the last few days have given everyone plenty to talk about in the bar and now all eyes are turned toward the Aberdeen Dragon European Championship, being hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron, registration for which takes place this weekend with racing from Monday 5 to Friday 9 June.