Friday, 24 May 2013
Dragons competing at Grand Prix Guyader this month. Image copyright Jacques Vapillon/Grand Prix Guyader
by Fiona Brown
With over 20 entries already registered including teams from Germany, Japan, and the USA, the 2013 Edinburgh Cup for the Dragon British Open Championship, being hosted by the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) from 25 to 28 June 2013, is already shaping up to be an outstanding event. The Edinburgh Cup will be preceded by the Dragon South Coast Championship from 23-24 June, with racing for both events taking place on Weymouth Bay, scene of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic regattas. The Edinburgh Cup and South Coast Championship will both be supported by Aberdeen Asset Management.
The Edinburgh Cup, presented to the British Dragon Association by HRH The Duke Of Edinburgh in 1949, is one of yachting's most historic and prestigious trophies and competition for the right to add your name to the illustrious list of winners is always fierce. Rivalry at this year's edition of the event will be heightened as Weymouth will also host the 2013 Dragon World Championship from 5-13 September, and many teams will use the South Coast Championship and Edinburgh Cup as a warm up opportunity for that event.
Amongst those who have already confirmed their entries is defending Edinburgh Cup Champion Simon Brien from Belfast. Last year Simon and his team aboard Kin achieved the double of winning both the overall and Corinthian (all amateur) trophies in their home waters and they are keen to reprise this success in Weymouth.
Heading up the challengers are sailing legends Lawrie Smith and Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen. A double Olympic Gold Medalist (Soling - 1976 Montreal and 1980 Moscow), Hoj-Jensen's track record at the Edinburgh Cup is exemplary with no less than five previous wins. He will be crewed by his regular team of Theis Palm and Andrew Norden. Smith is an Olympic Bronze Medalist (Soling - 1992, Barcelona), Fireball World Champion and Whitbread Race veteran, not to mention the reigning Dragon World Champion. He has yet to get his hands on the Edinburgh Cup, but with his defence of the World title also in his sights he will be determined to maximise his performance at this regatta. He will sail with his World Championship winning crew of Ossie Stewart, who won Bronze with him in Barcelona, and Tim Tavinnor, himself a former Olympic Finn campaigner and now head of Petticrows, the Dragon's most prolific builder.
From Portugal comes Jose Matoso sailing with Gustavo Lima and Frederico Melo, who both represented Portugal at the 2012 London Olympics - Lima in the Laser and Melo in the Star. This team come fresh from Victory at the 2013 Cascais BMW Dragon European Championship and would be delighted to become the first Portuguese team to claim the Edinburgh Cup.
Travelling from the USA will be Dragon stalwart Ted Sawyer who might be in his 80th year but still frequently runs rings around the youngsters. Ted is one of the most respected and loved figures in the International Dragon fleet and the European teams are always delighted to welcome him on his regular trips across the pond. With top professional sailors Martin Payne of the UK and Pedro Arriaga from Portugal on board we can expect to this team to be making regular appearances in the top ten, particularly if conditions are lighter.
Other big names to watch out for at the event include Klaus Diederichs, who finished fourth at the recent Dragon Europeans and will be sailing with his regular crew of Andy Beadsworth and Jamie Lea; Julia and Graham Bailey, crewed by youngster Will Heritage and new face Keith Tippell, who comes to them from the Etchell fleet; and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox who recently claimed a top ten place at the Grade 1 Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez.
One interesting new team to watch out for is brothers Quentin and Simon Struass who have both sailed Dragons at top level before, but who are racing together for the first time and will be joined by leading Wayferer helm Martin Collen. Quentin and Simon both have very well established reputations at the top of the International Melges 24 fleet and with Martin's undoubted tactical skills they could surprise a few of the old guard.
The Notices of Race, online Entry and further information for both the Edinburgh Cup and South Coast Championship are available from the event website. The initial entry closing date is Saturday 1 June, after which late entries will be subject to an entry fee surcharge.
Further information can be found at the 2013 Dragon Edinburgh Cup Website