After a three-hour delay to allow strong winds and big seas to abate and with a south easterly of 15 to 22 knots blowing down a two-mile beat, war was declared. Pre-start they were clearly sizing each other up, both started at the pin end with Smith slightly ahead and to weather. At the first mark Smith led the race with Gilmour right on his tail. Passing opportunities were few and far between due to a heavily left biased beat, and although Gilmour kept pressing, when Smith still held the lead as the boats turned onto the final run you might have been forgiven for thinking it was all over.
Gilmour was like a dog with a bone though, forcing Smith to pull out his best defensive moves as they constantly traded gybes. Nearing the final leeward mark on starboard Gilmour spotted his moment and took advantage of a timely wave and gust to surge level to leeward. In classic match racing style voices were raised and kites flapped as Gilmour and his team worked to press home their hard-fought gain.
But Smith is not an easy man to suppress and at the leeward gate, although Gilmour rounded first by mere seconds, Smith was able to claim the favoured left hand mark forcing Gilmour into the stronger tide for longer and requiring him to make one more tack on the beat. As they came to the line Smith had regained the upper hand crossing just seconds ahead of Gilmour to claim his second Edinburgh Cup win. Crossing the line behind the leading pair came Andy Beadsworth’s Turkish Provezza Dragon, securing him the final step on the podium.
After racing Alfie’s Ruairidh Scott commented, “We just had one race today. There were very strong winds this morning and east going tide made it pretty un-sailable first thing, but when the tide switched the seas moderated and the wind calmed down a bit. So we got one race in this afternoon which was a nice race. The situation meant that the title was between ourselves and Peter Gilmour, so unsurprisingly we started close to each other but we managed to get the better of the start. But Gilly and his team on YRED came into us on both runs and in the end, I think there was maybe only two to three boat lengths in it after a two hour race.”
n the Corinthian Division Chris Grosscurth’s Fit Chick team won by a single point from Ireland’s Martin Byrne. Simon Barter’s Bertie, of the local Solent fleet, took third place on countback alone from Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen.
The regatta concluded with a spectacular 75th Edinburgh Cup Gala Dinner sponsored by The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust. The competitors and their guests assembled on the Squadron Platform for predinner Hendrick Gin Neptunia Fizz cocktails, before moving to the Pavilion for dinner and the prize presentations.
Speaking on behalf of the Royal Yacht Squadron, Vice Commodore Yachting Bruce Huber said, “The Royal Yacht Squadron has been privileged to host the International Dragon Class’ prestigious 75th Edinburgh Cup over an exciting five race series in Cowes. We extend our congratulations Lawrie Smith and the Alfie team on an outstanding win in what was a hotly contested regatta including some 140 competitors within the 41-boat fleet, which included seven past Edinburgh Cup winners. Congratulations also to Chris Grosscurth’s Fit Chick on victory in the Corinthian Division and to all the prize winners. The Dragons continue to be one of the most competitive one design yacht racing classes worldwide, with a tremendous history including for the Edinburgh Cup, which was originally bequeathed by our past Admiral Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh, who presented the Cup in 1949. The Squadron has been delighted to support off and on the water, with nine Squadron teams participating, 10 including our historic Cup winner Rob Brown as Race Officer. We are committed to working closely with international classes such as the Dragons to deliver the highest quality of grand prix yacht racing and onshore hospitality.” – Bruce Huber, Rear Commodore Yachting, Royal Yacht Squadron.
Having welcomed and thanked the sponsors, organisers and competitors, Regatta Chairman Gavia Wilkinson-Cox welcomed some very special guests. Starting with last year’s winner Andy Beadsworth she introduced the winning helms or their representatives of no less than 36 past Edinburgh Cups. These included Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen who won a record five times, the first in ‘78 and the most recent in ‘06; Tony O’Gorman who won four times between ‘78 and ‘84; three time winner Graham Bailey; Julia Bailey, the only woman to ever win the Edinburgh Cup in ‘15; the ’81 winner Nick Truman; Nicky Streeter who won twice in ’73 and ‘77; Martin Parry who won sixty years ago in ‘63 and and represented Britain in the Dragon at the 1964 Olympics; and Ian Lallow who was representing his late father Clare Lallow who, with Franklin Ratsey Woordroffe, won both the first and second Edinburgh Cups in ‘49 and ‘50. The sense of history and the recognition of Dragon greatness in the room was palpable and the applause for their past champions was heartfelt and prolonged.
The evening’s grand finale was the prize presentations. These included the new perpetual Britannia Trophy, presented by The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, which will be awarded to the boat with the best score in the regatta without discard – the format that was used when the Edinburgh Cup was first presented by The Duke of Edinburgh. In the inaugural year the winner was second placed Peter Gilmour, crewed by Sam Gilmour and Yasuhiro Yaji.
The all-amateur crews are always enthusiastically encouraged and well recognised in the Dragon Class, and a huge cheer went up as Chris Grosscurth, Jono Brown and Emma York of Fit Chick team came to the stage to receive the Corinthian Edinburgh Cup Trophy.
Andy finally it was the turn of Lawrie Smith, Richard Parslow, Goncalo Ribeiro and Ruairidh Scott to receive the famous Edinburgh Cup. In his acceptance speech Smith paid tribute to his crew, recognising their exceptional skills, and saying he could not have won it without them. He said that to win a trophy as historic as the Edinburgh Cup in a setting as famous as the Royal Yacht Squadron is particularly pleasing. He thanked Race Officer Rob Brown for the great job he and his team did in managing the racing in very difficult conditions. He also thanked Peter Gilmour, explaining that they first met when he was coaching Gilmour’s Kookaburra crew for the 1987 America’s Cup in Freemantle. and joking that he thought “Gilly” was going to hammer him but was grateful he let him off a bit! Lawrie’s final thank you was to Regatta Chair Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, a lifelong Dragon sailor who not only organised the regatta but somehow found time to race too, finishing in fifth place overall, and he led a rousing round of applause to thank her for organising such a unique and enjoyable 75thEdinburgh Cup celebration.
The regatta was also the third of four events in the International Dragon 2023 Grand Prix series. The results from this regatta mean that Peter Gilmour has moved up from third into the overall lead in the Dragon European Grand Prix and Jan Secher from fourth to second with Peter Cunningham now third and Dirk Oldenburg fourth. Klaus Diederichs, who was unable to race in the Edinburgh Cup lies in fifth, with Andy Beadsworth sixth. The fourth and final European Grand Prix regatta and the 2023 Grand Final will both take place in Vilamoura in November.
The next major event for the British and International Dragon fleets is the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup, taking place in Torquay from 7 to 16 September. Fifty international teams are already entered and further information about the regatta can be found at www.dragongoldcup2023.com.
The 2024 Edinburgh Cup will be held in Abersoch from 7-12 July and more information about this will be available from www.britishdragons.org.
75th Edinburgh Cup And UK Dragon Grand Prix 2023 Final Results
Overall Top Ten
1 – Lawrie Smith – GBR815 Alfie – 1, 1, (12), 2, 1 = 5
2 – Peter Gilmour – JPN56 YRED – 2, (6), 1, 1, 2 = 6
3 – Andy Beadsworth – Provezza Dragon – 4, 2, 3, (42/BFD), 3 = 12
4 – Grant Gordon – GBR820 Louise Racing – 3, 3, (9), 4, 6 = 19
5 – Gavia Wilkinson-Cox – GBR831 Jerboa – 6, 7, 4, (17), 7 = 24
6 – Jan Secher – SWE800 Miss Behaviour – 5, (11), 7, 5, 8 = 25
7 – Hannes Hollaender – GER107 Grace – 11, 4, 8, (21), 4 = 27
8 – Peter Cunningham – CAY9 Powerplay – 13, 10, 2, 3, (16) = 28
9 – Graham Bailey – GBR192 Bluebottle – 10, (13), 6, 9, 5 = 30
10 – Martin Payne – GBR818 True Story – (18), 5, 11, 10, 11 = 37
Corinthain Top Five
1 – Chris Grosscurth – GBR753 Fit Chick – 9, 9, 16, 15 (42/RTD) = 50
2 – Martin Byrne – IRL201 Jaguar Sailing Team – 7, (22), 22, 8, 14 = 51
3 – Simon Barter – GBR763 Bertie – (22), 15, 14, 11, 20 = 60
4 – Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen – GBR822 Danish Blue – 21, 23, 21, 6 (42/RTD) = 60
5 – William Swigart – GBR585 Full Speed – 21, 23, 31, 6 (42/RTD) = 71