Britain finish third after day one of the Aberdeen Dragon European Championship 6/6/06

The Aberdeen Dragon European Championship opened in Cowes yesterday with 41 boats from 12 nations completing a gruelling two hour, five leg windward leeward race in the central Solent. Principle Race Officer John Grandy and his Royal Yacht Squadron team postponed racing for a little over an hour to allow the light north easterly breeze to settle before getting the race underway at 1220pm in 6-8 knots from around 45 degrees.

Off the line the fleet was clearly split between the left and right hand side of the course with very few opting for the centre line as the wind shifted constantly by up to 30 degrees. It appeared that the left hand side had the advantage but the fleet was closely packed as it rounded the first mark. Great Britain’s Richard Jordan led from Russia’s Georgy Shayduko, helming for owner Artem Kuznesov, followed by Germany’s Thomas Muller. Russian Alexander Ezhkov rounded fourth and Cowes Dragon Fleet Captain Gavia Wilkinson-Cox found herself the filling in a Russian sandwich at fifth with Sergey Maslov sixth. Denmark’s Peter Warrer rounded seventh with Britain’s Eric Williams eighth.

Down the first run Jordan opened up a small lead and Shayduko held onto second as Ezhkov pulled into third with all three leading boats opting for the right hand side at the gate. Muller in fourth was the first to opt for the left whilst Maslov rounded almost simultaneously on the right. Denmark’s Lars Hendriksen, helming for owner Edward Sawyer, meanwhile had pulled up into sixth from Williams.

Muller’s break left was a smart move and by the second weather mark he had taken the lead from Shayduko as Jordan dropped into third. One of the biggest gainers on the second beat was Frenchman Louis Urvois who pulled up from the middle of the pack to fourth just ahead of Ezhkov with Warrer sixth.

With the wind constantly shifting and varying in strength from just a few knots to almost double figures it was an ongoing battle to pick the right lane and find that crucial zephyr. The final run saw Muller, Shayduko and Jordan holding their positions but Ezhkov managed to slip past Urvois and Germany’s Jakob Bergbauer pulled up into sixth.

Muller, Shayduko, Jorden and Ezhkov held positions as the final beat turned into a fetch, but behind them Britain’s Owen Pay made a last minute charge and with a couple of clever tacks came from seventh to fifth leaving Urvois sixth. Hendriksen also had an excellent final beat moving up from tenth to seventh just ahead of Williams in eighth.

In the overall standings Germany’s Thomas Muller, sailing with Martin Payne and Mario Wagner, now leads from Russia’s Georgy Shayduko with Britain’s Richard Jordan in third and Russian Alexander Ezhkov fourth.