Australian America’s Cup and World Match Racing star Peter Gilmour and his team of Yasuhiro Yaji and Sam Gilmour, took on a tricky two race opening day at the 2019 Dragon German Grand Prix in Kühlungsborn and made it look deceptively easy, claiming victory in both races. His nearest rival, Russia’s Anatoly Loginov, sailing with Vadim Statsenko and Alexander Shalagin, was also superbly consistent with a pair of second places despite a broken spinnaker sheet during the opening race.
The racing was so close that third place after two races is only decided on count back between the Russian teams of Dmitry Samokhin, sailing with Andrey Kirilyuk and Aleksey Bushuev, who placed fourth and sixth, and Evgeniy Braslavets, crewed by Sergey Pugachev and Sergey Timokhov, who scored a pair of fifths. A single point behind them in fifth overall is Germany’s Otto Pohlman with Mateusz Kuscnierewicz and Charles Nankin.
Preparations and practice for the regatta, the third event in the prestigious Dragon European Cup Series 2019, had been delayed due to very strong winds and so today was the first opportunity both the sailors and the Segelclub Kühlungsborn’s race committee had to get afloat. Once in the race area they found glorious sunshine and a nice 16-20 knots from the north west, but it came with a big swell left over from the gale topped by a short and confused chop. The sea state made life very difficult for both the sailors and the race committee, who frequently found themselves hanging on for dear life and in some cases battling seasickness.
The wind direction allowed the committee to set up their course parallel to the shore, much to the delight of the spectators lining the strand who got a terrific view of the action. Throughout the day the left side of the beat closest to the shore was preferred, but there were sufficient shifts to catch out the unwary and provide gains to the observant. Gilmour himself took full advantage of one such right-hander on the final beat of race two to cement his second win.
In the Corinthian Division for all amateur crews the competition is so tight that there is a three-way tie after today’s opening races. Leading the Corinthian’s on countback is Sweden’s Martin Pålsson crewed by Goran Alm and Gustav Gärdebäck who scored 19 and 10. Neck and neck with them are Philip and Nicola Dohse and Volker Kramer who finished 16 and 13, while Karl-Gustaf Löhr, Jesper Bendix and Mads Hansen finished 15 and 14. In the overall standings they lie 11, 12 and 13 respectively.
After sailing Martin Pålsson summed up the conditions succinctly saying, “The sea is very confused; it’s choppy with big waves at the same time. We had a tough first race, but it got better and the second race we were rather pleased with. I think the decision not to run a third race was good as everyone was tired and we hadn’t been able to practice. But we hope the weather will allow sailing for the days coming.”
After racing the exhausted crews gathered at the waterside regatta village to relax, enjoy live music, eat delicious Italian food created specially for them by the Restaurant Portofino and to refresh themselves with the free beers being offered each day by event sponsor Yanmar.
The forecast for the remaining three days of the regatta offers more strong winds so all fingers are crossed that conditions are sailable for day two, when westerly winds of 21 to 29 knots are currently predicted. If racing can go ahead the scheduled start time is 11.00. The regatta concludes on Saturday 6 July with a maximum of three races being sailed per day and a total of eight races scheduled.