For 66 years the names engraved on the Dragon Edinburgh Cup have had two things in common. They have been the names of some of the finest sailors in the world and they have all been men. Julia Bailey was already recognised as a great sailor, but today she made history by becoming the first woman to claim the Edinburgh Cup. For Julia and her crew of Pedro Andrade, Keith Tippell and Will Heritage aboard GBR720 Aimee the victory must be made even sweeter for knowing that they didn’t just win the regatta, they positively stormed it with a race to spare.
Asked how she felt about her momentous win Julia replied, “Brilliant. It took a little time to sink in. They’re a great team and I love to sail with them. I’ve sailed with Pedro for the last ten years in all sorts of things and he knows my strengths and weaknesses and plays to them. We’re over the moon.” At the prize giving again Julia paid tribute to her crew and to her fellow competitors and also asked fourteen year old Will, who she told the audience she had had to loose ten kilos this year to keep on board, to step forward and help with the thank you speech. Will acquitted himself admirably thanking everyone involved in laying on the regatta and in particular Julia, Pedro and Keith for the incredible opportunity and learning experience.
Whilst Aimee’s overall victory was secured early, the battle for the remaining podium places was only decided in the closing stages of the final race. Ultimately second place was secured by Mike Budd, sailing GBR793 Harry with Mark Greaves and Sam Gardner, who added a first and second to their scorecard to trail Aimee by two points. Third place went down to a tie breaker with Martin Payne, Gillian Hamilton and Donal Small sailing GBR789 Bear, and Tom Vernon, Adam Bowers and Oliver Spensley-Corfield, both finished the regatta on thirteen points with Bear taking third place on count-back.
Mike Budd and the Harry crew also claim the Corinthian Cup for the leading all amateur crew. Second placed Corinthian was GBR764 Naiad sailing by Mike and Monique Hayles and Julian Brooke-Houghton, and GBR515 Basilisk, sailed by Patrick Gifford, Michael Spall and Alan James were third.
The regatta, hosted by the Largs Sailing Club in association with the Scottish Sailing Institute, was agreed by all to have been one of the most demanding Edinburgh Cups in many years. It opened with a near gale, lost a day through lack of wind, had a race abandoned because of the sudden appearance of a nuclear submarine and featured five of the most challenging keelboat races you could hope to experience. For the 20 strong fleet from across the UK and as far afield as Japan it’s been a marathon and every race saw surprises and upsets as the crews took on this stunning venue.
After racing the crews came together for a gala prize giving dinner to honour their winners and celebrate the return of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup to Scotland and the Clyde after an absence of 12 years.
As well as the major trophies a number of special awards were also made including the Jordan Bell for the boat with the highest overall position that does not include a top 6 finish which went to Martin Makey’s GBR704 Ganador, the Classic Boat prize which went to Helen Horsfall’s GBR343 Whizz Too, the First All Girl Crew prize which was won by GBR509 Kismet’s Cathy Sedeworth and crew, and the Puffin Plate for the leading boat over 25 years old which went to Patrick Gifford’s Basilisk. There was also a very special presentation to the best Scottish Country Dancer from Wednesday’s Scottish Night which was won hands down by Donald Milne of GBR790 Flotation!
British Dragon Association Chairman Ron James took the opportunity to thank the event sponsor Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, the host organisations Largs Sailing Club and the Scottish Sailing Institute, Largs Yacht Haven and the people of Largs for making the Dragon’s return to the Clyde such a memorable one and for their outstanding Scottish hospitality.
The 2016 Edinburgh Cup will be held in Abersoch in early July. Further information about the event will be published shortly at www.edinburghcup.org.