Joergen Schoenherr DEN 401 rolled back the years yesterday to snatch the Prince Phillip Cup from Tommy Mullers GER 966 grasp by winning the final race by a country mile…….   With just over a third of the fleet deciding to not participate in the final race due to seeing gusts of up to 30 kts blow from the North, it gave the opportunity for some of us to watch the final outcome from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club balcony and witness Dragon Racing at it’s very best. 23 boats not wanting to risk damage prior to the start of the World Championship meant that PRO Kevin Wilson could set a start line slightly shorter for the 40 participating dragons and by postponing the 11.00 start time gave the wind time to drop to between 15-20 kts. So the final race began in virtually “perfect” sailing conditions……

Protecting a 5 pt lead was never going to be easy for Muller as there were potentially 4 boats who could catch him and win the championship so a good clean start was essential. Unfortunately GER 966 had a shocker of a start which immediately “stuffed” Muller in the second row of boats, meanwhile DEN 401 Schoenherr made a textbook start and sailed clear of the fleet giving him the opportunity to tack towards the favoured shore. Wherever you sail in the world nine times out of ten it pays to sail towards land if it’s at all possible, it can be for any number of reasons, less current, flater water, wind bends, more pressure etc….  and yesterday was no exception to this rule. Not only did Schoenherr arrive clear ahead at the top mark but he gave an exhibition of total brilliance as he increased his lead throughout the three beats and two down wind leg’s. Muller could only play catch-up as he and his “Bavarian Dream Team” fought hard to finish within 5 places of Schoenherr, but alas he could only manage 8th position.

In a clear second place UKR 7 Markus Wieser honored the fleet again with another appearance in this “warm-up” regatta, sailing his new Petticrow boat well and finding all the go fast buttons. Whilst another World Championship “wild card” GBR 758 Klaus Diederichs crewed by Solent legends Andy Beadsworth and Simon Fry, took 3rd place after a very impressive showing of both speed and boat handling. So then with Lars Hendrickson UKR 8 not competing it came down to a battle for 3rd place overall between RUS27 Anatoly Loginov and AUS 208 Richard Lynn crewed by top American Olympic coach Ron Rosenberg and Ian Olson. Basically as the two boats were on equall points it came down to whoever finished ahead on the day would take the bronze position……….. RUS 27 came in a very respectable 4th place and AUS 208 not far behind in 6th position.

But the day belonged to the Danish Team, and Schoenherr DEN 401 was quick to thank his hard working team of current World Champion crew Theis Palm and Axel Waltersdorph. Joergen also thanked me for the loan of my Jacket & Tie at the prize giving which was held in the magnificent Melbourne Parliment Building. So for the record here are the final overall positions……

1st DEN 401 Schoenherr, Palm, Waltersdorph.  26pts..   Petticrow / Norths.         

2nd GER 966 Muller, Hoesch, Lip.                       28pts..    Petticrow / Fritz.

3rd RUS 27 Loginov, Kirilyuk, Shalagin.              30pts.     Petticrow / Fritz.

4th AUS 208 Lynn, Olson, Rosenberg.                32pts..     Petticrow / Norths.

5th URK 8 Hendricksen, Sidorov,Leonchuk.      38pts.      Borresen /  Fritz.         

So now we all have a day to rest and prepare ourselves for the World Championships. New boats will be joining the fleet whilst current boats will be craned out for a clean and that final polish as each team search for every last inch of speed…….   Never before have so many “potential” World Championship winners been gathered on Australia’s shores…  Now that England have successfully destroyed their opponents on the cricket field, can an Australian sailor fight back to restore some pride to a shattered nation…………………………..    

Higher, Faster, Longer………………..   Stavros.