Firstly apologies for not being able to update the blog earlier today.  Sadly various airline delays and heavy Friday night traffic meant my run up to Budapest took a lot longer than anticipated so I’m afraid we are light on interviews tonight.

As I am sure you will already have seen from the Official Website our 2010 European Champions are Markus Wieser, Sergey Pugachev and Matti Paschen sailing Bunker Queen for the Ukraine.

I got back just in time for the prize giving gala dinner and what an evening it has been.  Vilmos Naray of the Hungarian Dragon Fleet and the Organising Committee opened proceedings by inviting the jury members, the organising team and the principle race officer to the stage.  PRO Gert Schmidleitner then invited the individual race committee members to the stage and the assembled Dragon sailors thanked them with a huge round of applause.  There were also special thanks for title sponsor Erste Private Banking and for the many supporting sponsors who made the event possible.

Following a delicious dinner served with a selection of excellent Hungarian wines and background music provided by Hungarian gypsy musicians the formal prize giving got underway.  A representative of each boat was called to the stage to collect a set of commemorative calendars produced from images taken during the Hungarian Championship and the Erste Private Banking Dragon European Championship.

All the competitors received rousing applause as they came to the stage, but without doubt the most enthusiastic and heartfelt recognition went to Great Britain’s Jenny Green whose determination to overcome an increasing physical handicap caused by motor neurone disease has been an inspiration to everyone at the event.  Despite now being reliant on a wheelchair Jenny is still actively helming her Dragon with husband Malcom and crew Andrew Davies and she put in a sterling performance this week. As she wheeled herself to the stage the entire room leapt to its feet to give her a standing ovation.

With the initial presentations over the ceremony moved onto the main prizes.  Finally it was down to the top three and the representative of Erste Private Banking was called to the stage to make the presentations to third placed Anatoly Loginov, sailing RUS27, Annapurna, crewed by Andrey Kirilyuk and Alexander Shalagin; second placed Dimitry Berezkin sailing RUS90, Zenith, crewed by Anatoly Kudristkiy and Aleskey Bushuev; and our 2010 European Champions Markus Wieser, Sergey Pugachev and Matti Paschen sailing UKR7 Bunker Queen.

In his speech a clearly delighted Markus thanked his owner Sergey Pugachev and crew Matti and acknowledged the outstanding quality of the competition.  He was fulsome in his praise of Balaton as a venue commenting that, despite the difficult start with two windless days, ultimately it had proved to be one of the best championship he’d ever done.  He also acknowledged the emergency of Eastern European countries within the Dragon Class with the Russian and Ukraine teams dominating this regatta and the development of the Hungarian fleet.  He also praised the increasing number of female helms now competing on an equal footing with the men – Olga White finished seventh and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox ninth in this championship.

With the formalities over the very attractive lady representative of Marinepool insisted that Markus and his crew join her in some traditional Hungarian folk dancing – much to the delight of the assembled throng.  The general advice from the audience seems to be to stick to sailing!

The sailors are now winding down and exchanging stories at the bar.