The opening day of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup supported by Aberdeen Asset Management and hosted by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club provided a sparkling day on the water with winds building to give gusts of more than 20 knots.
Despite a strong challenge from Lawrie Smith’s Tigger, Graham and Julia Bailey’s Aimee led the 24-strong fleet for most of the two hour 20 minute race, finishing with a 43 seconds advantage to win both Open and Corinthian divisions. Smith took second place and Quentin Strauss’s Rumours third in the Open Fleet, while a fifth for Julian Sowry’s Scimitar and sixth for Eric Williams’ Ecstatic saw them take second and third respectively in the Corinthian division.
The start sequence got under way on schedule, as the sun started to break through the thin cloud above Christchurch Bay. With 40 seconds to go the entire fleet was stacked up on the line, but despite adverse tide, 10 seconds before the gun it was clear a large number of boats would be over – the general recall came as no surprise.
The restart saw the fleet get away cleanly, with boats opting for the left and right hand side of the beat in roughly equal numbers. Half way up to the windward mark, Graham and Julia Bailey’s Aimee, the boat that started closest to the pin and remained furthest left, had a clear lead on that side of the course. On the right hand side Julian Sowry’s Scimitar, Ted Sawyer’s Hombre and Martin Makey’s Ganador were all looking well placed, as was Jenny Stutley’s Chime ll.
The Baileys remained at the left hand most side of the course until they headed across to the starboard layline, where they tacked slightly ahead of and a little below the boats already laying the mark. Aimee rounded first, followed 10 seconds later by Chime ll approaching on port tack. However, Chime ll hit the mark and with the next boats, Lawrie Smith’s Tigger and Scimitar, only 10 seconds behind it was an expensive mistake.
On the first run, with the fleet now bathed in bright sun, Aimee consolidated her lead, taking the left hand mark at the gate 20 seconds ahead of second placed Lawrie Smith. The first dozen or so boats initially stayed to the right on the second beat, heading towards a shower cloud over Christchurch town. Aimee was first of the leaders to tack, nearly half way up the beat, followed shortly afterwards by Smith. At the windward mark, however, Smith had a five second lead on the Baileys, having gained 25 seconds on the 2.2 mile leg.
However, it was not long before the two boats were neck and neck on the final run. They were then overlapped for most of the leg, followed closely by the jury boat, with the rest of the fleet falling ever further behind as the leading duo fought for every inch of advantage. The two split at the leeward gate, with the Baileys taking the right with a meagre two-second advantage. It was 75 seconds before the next two boats, Hombre and Scimitar rounded, again both splitting tacks.
A windshift initially favoured those on the left hand side of the long final beat, which further benefitted Aimee, putting her in a controlling position. Smith tried to break her cover but could only do so by taking the disadvantaged tack, which only served to enhance the Bailey’s lead and they finished 43 seconds ahead of Smith. Rumours (Quentin Strauss Martin Collen Nigel Young) took third a minute and 21 seconds later. They were followed five seconds later by Ted Sawyer, who celebrated his 81st birthday yesterday, Martin ‘Stavros’ Payne and Mark Hart in Little Hook.