Cowes Week starting with a bang yesterday as the strong easterly wind reached 25kts at times across the tidal and crowded solent… With well over 1,000 boats competiting in this festival of sail, the Dragon Class is just a small but very important part of this prestigious annual regatta ..With Graham Bailey deciding to helm his wife’s Julia’s “Aimee” GBR 720 and not dominate the Etchells Class (as he normally does), it has really raised this competitive fleet to another level. Also we welcome the President of the French Dragon Association, Eric Labon and his team from Deauville.. I can recall hearing stories of Dragons being sailed from the west coast of France, all the way over to Cowes for racing in days gone by…. Fortuantely “Harbeck” Trailers make the trip much easier and less “Brown Trouser” than it used to be 🙂
So with the start line off the Royal Yacht Squadron the Dragon Fleet got away first time at 11.05 yesterday with a long spinnaker leg towards the Needles at the west end of the solent. First to mark one was GBR 761 Gavia Wilkinson-Cox helming her Jerboa closely followed by GBR 767 “Bear” helmed by Chris Brittain who has spent the last three years in Bermuda. Chris who learnt his Dragon skills from the “Man” Poul-Richard over many years of crewing, only went to Bermuda for a brief holiday in 2009, but it’s a difficult place to find and get away from 🙂 Ha Ha, but with local Solent expert, Mark Hart calling the shot’s, Chris also sailing with his Wife Gillain, soon took the lead. As the wind increased, GBR 682 Eric Williams showed why he is always one to beat on these waters as he slotted into 2nd place on the second beat, just ahead of USA 310 helmed by 80 yr old Ted Sawyer who showed “True Grit” to hold onto a deserved 3rd place.. in these tough conditions.
With Graham Bailey blowing a Spinnaker on the second downwind leg, (come back William all is forgiven), he eventually had to settle for 5th place behind Gavia and her team who lost the lead due to overstanding the first windward mark.. in extremely difficult tidal waters.. So it was Campers that Chris and the “Bear” held onto 1st place, with Eric 2nd and Teddy 3rd … But this is just race one of 8 races over 8 days on this magnificent sailing arena.”
Higher, Faster, Longer……… Stavros. (USA 310)