Cultra, Northern Ireland, UK – 3 July 2012 – After seven incredibly tough races over three days it all went down to a tie-breaker to decide the winner of the 2012 Dragon Northern Area Championship. Sponsored by Belfast Harbour and hosted by the Royal North Of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough from 30 June to 3 July, the event had attracted 32 competitors – the best entry in many years – including teams from Monaco and Australia as well as from across the UK and Ireland.
The quality of competition at the regatta was incredibly high with every mark rounding action packed and the difference between a podium place and mid fleet being just a matter of seconds in almost every race. The Race Committee was at the top of its game as they brought seven great races to the fleet despite some very shifty and variable conditions. Those seven races featured six different race winners and going into the final day the top four boats were separated by only five points.
As they went into the final race it was still anyone’s regatta with Julia Bailey, crewed in Aimee by husband Graham, Dylan Potter and eleven year old Will Heritage holding a narrow lead on 19 points. A single point behind in second was Klaus Diederichs, sailing Fever with Andy Beadsworth and Jamie Lee. In third was Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, sailing Jerboa with Martin Payne and Rui Boia counting 23 points and in fourth was Chris Hunt, sailing Dark and Stormy with Mark Hart and Mark Daly, on 25 points. The overall points however were not fully known to the competitors as the class has a no VHF communication rule at its major championships and therefore did not know the identity of a single boat called over the start line (OCS) in the penultimate race. All four knew they had been close to the line and that no boat had returned across the line so almost any of them could be the disqualified boat.
With the wind constantly varying in both velocity and direction as rain showers rolled down across the hills from the south it was to be the toughest race of the series. For Diederichs and Bailey tricky starts were compounded by missed shifts and both boats scored their worst results of the regatta to put them out of the overall running. So it was down to Wilkinson-Cox and Hunt to fight it out for the laurels and what a fight it was with the two boats within yards of each other throughout the race. On the line Hunt just got the better of the situation finishing the race in second place with Wilkinson-Cox in fourth. Looking back down the fleet Wilkinson-Cox knew the points were tight but feared that her fourth place hadn’t been sufficient and in fact was worried about whether she’d made the podium at all. It wasn’t until she arrived back at the club house sometime later that she discovered that the OCS boat had been Simon Brien and that she had just snatched the 2012 Dragon Northern Area Championship on count-back from Hunt with Diederichs third and Bailey fourth.
At the prize giving dinner Gavia Wilkinson-Cox paid tribute to the regatta organisers led by Simon Brien, to her crew and to the quality of the competition saying. “Simon has already very eloquently thanked all those involved with running this event, but on behalf of everybody here I want to say the hugest thank to Simon. Nobody could have done more than he has to get everybody here. The other thank you of course goes to my crew Stavros and Rui – two fantastic sailors. And finally thank you all for being fantastic competitors and for the tough racing.”
The Corinthian Trophy, for the first all amateur crew, went to Julia Bailey in Aimee, while Mark and Mandy Wade, sailing Avalanche with Simon Cash were Corinthian runners up and fifth overall. The Old Boat Trophy, for the top performance by one of the classic boats in the fleet, went to Sou’wester which was recently brought back to life after 16 years in storage by her crew of owner John Simms, John Gunning and Alan Morrison, who proved that there’s plenty of life in the old girl yet by finishing 13th overall. Special mention must also go to Monaco’s Jens Rathsack sailing Jeanie with Stefan Waak and Mario Wagner for being the only team to win two races in the regatta and who finished sixth overall.
Tomorrow the Edinburgh Cup – the Dragon British Open Championship – sponsored by Belfast Harbour gets underway and with the fleet growing to 46 teams with the addition of reigning World Champion and Olympic Bronze Medallist Lawrie Smith, reigning Edinburgh Cup Champion Martin Byrne, Double Olympic Gold Medallist and five time Edinburgh Cup Champion Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen and 2008 Edinburgh Cup Champion Don O’Donoghue, to name but a few, it will not only be the biggest Edinburgh Cup fleet in more than quarter of a century but also one of the toughest ever assembled.
The 2012 Edinburgh Cup sponsored by Belfast Harbour runs from Wednesday 4 to Saturday 7 July with up to six races scheduled. Racing will continue on Belfast Lough but the fleet will move seawards down the lough to allow for a much larger championship race course with beats of up to 2 miles. Once five races have been completed a single discard will be allowed.
All images courtesy of Thomas Anderson – credit www.taphotos.co.uk
For further information about the British Dragon Association please visit www.britishdragons.org or contact Fiona Brown, BDA Press Officer, e-mail email@example.com, Tel +44 7711 718470, Skype fpbrown.
For further information about Belfast Harbour please visit www.belfast-harbour.co.uk , Tel +44 (0)28 9055 4422 or E-mail