Patrick Gifford Reports From The Gold Cup.
Hosted by the GKSS the Dragon Gold Cup took place in Marstrand from 8-13 August 2010. I had been to Marstrand before and therefore knew what to expect: light sea breezes, tee-shirts and shorts in a very pretty but rather expensive setting(it is in Sweden after all). In the event it was rather different. On land it lived up to my memories but on the water we got some strong winds, big waves and some very shifty and lighter weather, often associated with heavy rain.
We went to Marstrand four strong, of which more later, myself, Michael Gifford, the star of the Ranelagh SC website, Harry Pynn, who had just won the Lark Championship with Michael, and Charlotte Savage, a top RS 200 helmswoman. All of us had done as instructed and made sure we had ISAF IDs and classification 1 as amateurs. This made us eligible to enter the new Corinthian Trophy.
There were ultimately 96 competitors although 105 had entered. Among them were 6 British boats, ourselves included. We were led by the Chairman of the IDA, Rob Campbell, and included additionally Tim Tavinor, Ron James, Quentin Strauss and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox. In total 16 countries were represented with competitors from as far away as Hong Kong and Australia. There was a strong Russian contingent and a very powerful, if small in number, Ukrainian team which had adopted Lars Hendriksen and Werner Fritz who are no doubt now fluent in the language.
I can only describe the racing as we saw it from a vantage point within the fleet whose position varied considerably. There was a practice race, which saw some eager starters and probably helped the committee to come to terms with their two-part line. For us it did establish that we had decent speed in Force 2-3 which was encouraging. The first race was sailed in a reasonable amount of wind and was won by Helmut Schmidt in Kleine Brise from Werner Fritz. It was shifty and we didn't really manage to capitalise on them, getting up to about 18th at one point with boats around us who went on to higher places but ourselves making some rather rusty errors and dropping to 32nd.
There then came a windy race sailed in about 25 to 28 knots but with very big and, above all, steep waves. The usual suspects showed that they had sailed in these conditions before. Lars Hendriksen won the race from Frank Berg and Lasse Molse. They were both sailing Pedersen and Thuesen classics,Frank the ex-Maj-Britt, now named My Way and Lasse Molse the much named Maelstrom which has also been called Crackerjack and Grete and is now Da Capo. After this display of the virtues of 1960s boatbuilding and modern glue came Tommy Muller and Werner Fritz. We were really pleased to come 15th and find that we were still racing at the end, rather than surviving, and still going up the fleet. The waves were the most memorable feature: excellent surfing and some crashing falls upwind after which one is surprised that the boat is still in one piece. There were quite a lot of breakages to deal with which some Katie Cole lookalikes including Nicky Wilton and Matt Walker were recruited by Tim Tavinor.
The third race was a mess. It took place after a lay day to enable the Danish royal participants to return to Copenhagen for an official function. Unfortunately the weather had become very shifty so that after the first beat we were mostly reaching between the marks, often in virtually no wind. Lars Hendriksen won again so it wasn't completely flukey. We blew the start very carelessly(mea culpa) and were always struggling and finished 51st.
The fourth and ultimately final race started in a reasonable breeze which gradually faded so that by the end it was about force 2 to 3 but with holes and shifts in it. As a result the leading positions changed quite a lot. The race was won quite easily in the end by Filipe Silva of Portugal. Behind him, however, a determined hold on 4th place was enough to give Anatoly Loginov the Gold Cup by 4 points as Lars Hendriksen only managed a 12th place. We had a most enjoyable race coming from somewhere in the 30s to finish 5th as we succeeded in reading the wind better than others through a combination of luck and skill. This gave us 17th overall and 1st in the Corinthian Trophy. We were very pleased with both results.
Among the other British, Tim Tavinor was the most consistent ultimately finishing 14th. Quentin Strauss showed the most speed with a 6th and a 2nd, marred by two poor results, whereas Rob Campbell, Gavia Wilkinson-Cox and Ron James all had a regatta which failed to meet their usual high standards.
The Corinthian Trophy was a source of controversy due to the failure of many competitors to comply with the Notice of Race and ensure that all the crew had ISAF IDs and classifications before arriving in Marstrand. This was made worse by the Race Committee's failure to realise that only amateurs need classification. They therefore assumed that any unclassified sailor was an amateur. As a result the initial entry for the event was 59 boats which fell to 12 after two days and then rose to 17 as more amateurs were discovered. I was somewhat shocked, if pleased, to find that 17th overall was enough to win the Corinthian Trophy. A much higher placing, well into single figures, has often been needed. Interestingly, although we would have won either on the places in the main event or separately scored, there were some significant differences further down the Corinthian fleet. I suspect that it would be better to use the main scores since that is the way one thinks about each race.
We found that sailing four-up worked well. We had two aims, to use high quality dinghy talent and to be near the weight limit. In the more tactical smaller dinghies most sailors are quite small so you need to take three of them to make this work. You then get an extra pair of hands and more useful input to tweak the boat and watch the conditions and the competitors. It was an interesting thing to do and I think it provides a way forward for many smaller sailors.
22nd August 2010
Source : BDA Website http://www.britishdragons.org.uk
You can buy your own copies of the photos taken by the Official Event Phographer of the BMW Dragon Gold Cup Dan Ljungsvik here !