11 June 2019 – Medemblik, Netherlands – As the regatta reached its mid-point, there were mixed fortunes for the leading teams on day three of the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2019 in Medemblik. Going into the day Holland’s Pieter Heerema, and Peter Gilmour sailing for Japan were at the top of the leader board with four points apiece. Russia’s Dmitry Samokhin was in third on eight points and Portugal’s Pedro Andrade fourth with nine points.
Daybreak brought heavy rain with a south westerly in the mid to upper teens, but as the noon start time approached the skies began to clear. Unfortunately, those clear skies came with some significant wind shifts and twice the race committee had to reorganise the start line before racing got underway. Once underway those shifts plus regular changes in velocity were to put the sailors under major pressure. Picking your start line spot and finding clear lanes in the right places in a fleet of almost 100 boats is never easy, but it was particularly challenging today.
Off the line Heerema and Gilmour both struggled and found themselves buried mid fleet. Up ahead Germany’s Stephan Link led for the first time in the series, but the chasing pack were right on his heels. As they came into the second weather mark Link had a couple of boat lengths lead but after almost 8 miles of racing the next nine boats were all still overlapped. In a high risk but ultimately very impressive manoeuvre Andrade managed to shoot the mark with millimeter precision to slip inside Australia’s Simon Prosser, with Samokhin, Denmark’s Frank Berg, Dutchman Bram de Wilde, Switzerland’s Wolf Waschkuhn, Britain’s Martin Payne and Russia’s Evgenii Braslavets and Anatoly Loginov all chasing hard. Heerema was down in twenty-seventh and Gilmour thirty-eighth.
Down the second run Link opened up his lead a little, while Berg climbed to second ahead of Andrade with Prosser fourth, Samokhin fifth and Waschkuhn sixth. Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen sailed a superb run to move up from the teens into eighth place, ahead of de Wilde and Braslavets. Heerema had managed to claw himself into the low twenties, but Gilmour continued to languish in the thirties.
The final beat was to be an absolute humdinger, “It was more like match racing than fleet racing” said Andrade after sailing. Link hung onto his lead by the skin of his teeth while Andrade just made back it into second ahead of Prosser. Braslavets took fourth, Samokhin fifth, Waschkuhn sixth and Hoj-Jensen seventh. Only too well aware that there are no discards in this series, Heerema sailed his socks off to finish in fifteenth and Gilmour managed to claw his way up to twenty-eighth. After racing a surprisingly sanguine Gilmour admitted “There was no one specific issue, it just wasn’t our day today.”
With three of the six races now completed Pedro Andrade, sailing with Christian Giannini and Joao Vidinha has moved into a two-point lead over Dmitry Samokhin, crewed by Aleksey Bushyev and Andrey Kirilyuk. After their disappointing start, the herculean recovery efforts of Pieter Heereman and his crew George Leonchuk and Lars Hendriksen helped ensure they dropped no further down the leader board than third, six points behind Samokhin.
Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen is clearly loving being back in the Dragon with his old team mates Chris Brittain and Hamish McKay and not only has he strengthened his hold on the Corinthian competition, but he has also moved up from sixth to fourth place overall, four points behind Samokhin and on equal points with Anatoly Loginov, crewed by Alexander Shalagin and Vadim Statsenko. Stephan Link, Frank Butzmann and Micky Lipp’s race win jumps them from ninth to sixth overall with a four point delta on Loginov and onto equal points Grant Gordon, Alex Warren, James Williamson and Ruairidh Scott who finished tenth in the race.
Sweden’s Martin Pålsson, crewed by Peter Lindh and Thomas Wallenfeldt, remains in second place in the Corinthian division behind Hoj-Jensen, while Belgium’s Alex Helsen, Dries Van Den Abbeele and Floris Mortelmans have overtaken the local Bakker family of Jan, Dominic and Oliver for third.
The media focus may be on the big names at the front of the pack, but there are terrific competitions going on throughout the fleet and many tales of personal achievement. Making their debut Gold Cup appearance this week are the Brown family from England. Jonathan, David and Lynette have been joined by friend Gillian Hamilton and are loving their first major International Dragon regatta. “We’ve never sailed in a fleet this big and those start lines can be pretty daunting, but we’re gaining confidence and really starting to enjoy it.” Their results confirm that confidence is justified as they have improved rapidly from fifty-third in the opening race to twenty-sixth today.
Australia’s Simon Prosser, John Hay and Stephen Wray must also be feeling pretty happy tonight. They only joined the Dragon Class last year and until this week their biggest Dragon race had been against 32 other boats. Yesterday’s heavy airs combined with such a large fleet left them struggling and their best race was a fifty-seventh, but today they got the bit between their teeth and were delighted to finish third. Although new to the Dragon this team have good experience in a number of dinghy classes so will definitely be worth watching.
There is some great family rivalry going on in the fleet too. The German Dohse family are split across two boats with parents Philip and Nicola and their daughter Pia Dohse sailing in one boat with Volker Kramer, and their son Maximilian sailing the other with friends Klaas Simon, Rasmus Nielsen and Thommy Dehler. Yesterday Philip’s team put their long experience to good use and got the upper hand in both races, but today it was the turn of the young bloods to shine. Overall just two points now separate them with Philip in thirty-fifth and Maximilian in thirty-seventh. Something tells us this fight will go right down to the wire!
The Dragon fleet is as famous for its social life as its sailing and this evening the crews were invited to the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup Gala Dinner in Medemblik’s spectacular and historic Saint Bonifacius Church. With a wonderful welcome from the representatives of Yanmar, delicious food and wine and a number of special and fun presentations, the evening was the perfect chance for everyone to relax and enjoy the company of their fellow Dragon sailors.
Tomorrow’s forecast is for more very shifty conditions, so after tonight’s festivities it will be back to business for the fourth race of the series at noon. The regatta continues until Friday 14 June with a maximum of six races possible.
Provisional Top Ten After Three Races
Pedro Andrade, POR84 – 4, 5, 2 = 11
Dmitry Samokhin, RUS76 – 1, 7, 5 = 13
Pieter Heerema, NED412 – 3, 1, 15 = 19
Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen, GBR822 – 13, 3, 7 = 23
Anatoly Loginov, RUS27 – 8, 4, 11 = 23
Stephan Link, GER1162 – 12, 14, 1 = 27
Grant Gordon, GBR820 – 5, 12, 10 = 27
Peter Gilmour, JAP56 – 2, 2, 28 = 32
Wolf Waschkuhn, SUI318 – 23, 6, 6 = 35
Jens Christensen, DEN410 – 9, 13, 17 = 39