- Michael Zankel takes his second bullet of the series with a win in race four of the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2023.
- Lawrie Smith tightens his grip on the overall lead with two races to go.
- Wolf Waschkuhn holds onto second as Bo Johansen leapfrogs into third from fifth.
- David Tabb wins Corinthian race four.
- Christoph Skolaut continues to lead the Corinthian Division overall.
- Its party time at the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2023 Gala Dinner.
- Lawrie Smith, Ruaridh Scott, Concalo Ribeiro and Richard Parslow of GBR815 Alfie receive the Børge Børresen Memorial Trophy.
- Two races remain to be sailed on the final day of the competition.
13 September 2023 – Torquay, UK – Torquay finally delivered perfect sailing conditions for day five of the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2023, where the previously abandoned race four was re-sailed in glorious sunshine and a south-south-easterly breeze which built from around 10 to 15 knots through the race.
With the minimum required number of four races now completed the championship is valid and with a fifth place in today’s race Lawrie Smith sailing GBR815 Alfie for the Glandore Yacht Club has further tightened his grip on the overall lead with a 15-point delta on his nearest rivals.
The remainder of the podium is still wide open however, as just eight points now separate second to sixth place in the no discard series. Going into the final day SUI318 Wolf Waschkuhn is on 27 points, with DEN423 Bo Johansen and JAP52 Peter Gilmour both on 30 points, BEL82 Xavier Vanneste is on 34 and GER62 Stephan Link counts 35 points.
Two races remain to be sailed on the final day, so the Race Committee has brought Friday’s first start time forward to 11:15 in the hope that the second race can get underway before the 14:30 latest warning signal cut off time.
As the competitors arrived in the race area for the restart of the previously abandoned race four, the breeze was already well established and after an initial general recall, the U flag came out of the Race Committee’s locker and they were off at the second attempt. Both Andy Beadsworth sailing TUR12 and Peter Cunningham in CAY9 were disqualified for being over the line. After racing Beadsworth protested the Race Committee’s decision but the jury did not find in his favour.
At the weather mark Michael Zankel sailing POR90 once again headed the fleet from Bo Johansen in DEN423, Stephan Link GER62, Jan Woortmann GER1221, David Tabb GBR818, Peter Gilmour JAP56, and overall leader Lawrie Smith who slotted into seventh in GBR815. Eighth to round was Graham Bailey in GBR192, the famous 75 year old Bluebottle, who was showing her face at the front of the fleet for the first time this week.
Down the first run it was very tight and as they round the first leeward gate Johansen had just crept ahead to round the starboard gate a few seconds ahead of Zankel. Link held third, with Woortman fourth, Gilmour fifth, Tabb sixth and Smith still seventh.
By the top of the second beat Zankel had reclaimed the lead, Woortman was up to second with Johansen third and Gilmour fourth. Smith had pulled up to fifth while Link was down to sixth.
Zankel began to extend his lead on the second run and by the leeward mark he had a decent cushion over Johansen, with both opting for the port gate. Gilmour and Woortman rounded the starboard gate in tight formation, Link rounded fifth and Smith sixth. The leading six had opened up a decent gap on the chasing pack which was now led by Wolf Waschkuhn and Laurie Rechard.
As the fleet came to the line Zankel took his second victory of the regatta by a big margin. Second to fourth were all overlapped on the line and after by the narrowest margin it was Gilmour who took second, with Johansen third, Woortman fourth, Smith fifth, Link six and Waschkuhn pulling up into sixth. Back ashore however, Tabb protested Woortman for tacking in his water and Woortman was disqualified.
After racing Graham Bailey spoke about how unusually testing the conditions have been here in Torquay, saying, “We had sparkling conditions out there today, we had about 11 to 13 knots, that sort of order and just great open water racing, it’s fantastic. It’s been difficult. I don’t want to say a difficult venue because I think that it’s just that the weather models have been difficult, they’ve shown it’s been difficult weather. It’s not been straight forward. So I wouldn’t blame that on Torbay which we love, we’ve just had tricky weather. But it’s tricky for everybody so it’s completely fair and some workout better than others. So it’s been a challenge, but it’s never been absolutely obvious. It’s one of those venues and weather conditions where you never give up and even down to the last beat there’s always something to be had, there are holes to be had, snakes and ladders, so it keeps it pretty open and you’ve got to be on your toes all the time.”.
In the Corinthian all amateur division David Tabb was the top performer, narrowly beating Christoph Skolaut with GBR763 Simon Barter third. In the overall Corinthian standings Skolaut continues to lead the competition from David Tabb with Peter Bowring’s IRL225, being helmed by Neil Hegarty, third. Peter Bowring summed up their feelings about the regatta so far saying, “It’s been a great event. Torbay have put on a fantastic event but we’re finding it difficult. That’s more down to us and the conditions, but that’s sailing.”.
Once again, the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2023 regatta marquee was ready and waiting to welcome the crews home with more tasty hot snacks and a plentiful supply of complimentary cold beers, which were much needed after a long day on the twelve and a half mile race course.
Later in the evening the crews came together in the elegant waterside ballroom of the Imperial Hotel Torquay for party time at the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup Gala Dinner. After welcome drinks guests enjoyed a delicious three course dinner.
Speaking after dinner, International Dragon Association (IDA) Chairman Gerard Blanc thanked the British Dragon Association and the Royal Torbay Yacht Club for their tremendous work in organising the event, Yanmar for their most generous and ongoing support of the Dragon Class and the competitors for travelling from so far afield to take part.
On behalf of the event Sponsor, Yanmar Marine International, Mr Kitamura paid tribute to the organisers and the Dragon sailors for the exceptional quality of the regatta and spoke of the synergy between Yanmar and the sailing community.
Special tributes were also paid to Race Officer Stuart Childerley and his team who have done a most impressive job in running racing despite some of the most challenging conditions the Dragon fleet has ever seen.
One of the highlights of a most enjoyable gathering was the presentation of the prestigious Børge Børresen Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the first race in the Gold Cup. This very special trophy goes to Lawrie Smith, Ruaridh Scott, Concalo Ribeiro and Richard Parslow of Alfie. The trophy was presented by the IDA’s Championship Coordinator Martin “Stavros” Payne and the presentation included the now traditional bottle of Glenfiddich whisky, which the winners greatly enjoyed consuming from the trophy.
The late Børge Børresen is a legend amongst Dragon sailors. At 16 years old he built one of the first Dragons in Denmark in 1936 with his brother Albert. For some 65 years he was the preeminent Dragon builder, constructing multiple Olympic, World, European and National Championship winning boats. One of his greatest contributions to the class was his leadership in translating the Dragon from wooden to GRP construction. The fact that a 1938 wooden Dragon like Bluebottle is racing on a level playing field this week against the very latest boats off the production line is testament to the work that Børresen did in devising the scantlings for the GRP boats. He was also an exceptional sailor, participating in the Gold Cup 51 times consecutively, winning as a crew for Thorkil Warrer in 1951 and 1956 and as helm in 1967 and 1985. He won many other major Dragon regattas, including, at the age of 75, the World Championship sailing with Jesper Bank.
Two races remain to be sailed on the final day of the six race no discard series, which concludes on Friday 15 September. Further information is available at the event website.
PROVISIONAL TOP FIVE AFTER FOUR RACES
1st – Lawrie Smith, GBR815, Alfie – 1, 3(RDGc), 3, 5 = 12
2nd – Wolf Waschkuhn, SUI318, 1quick1 – 4, 4, 12, 7 = 27
3rd – Bo Johansen, DEN423, Deja Vu Ver. 2.0 – 2, 24, 1, 3 = 30
4th – Peter Gilmour, JPN56, YRed – 3, 12, 13, 2 = 30
5th – Xavier Vanneste, BEL82, Herbie – 5, 8, 8, 13 = 34