International Dragon Fleet Assembles In Abersoch for Edinburgh Cup 2016 Supported by Gwynedd Council ‘Wales 2016 Year of Adventure – Snowdonia Mountains & Coast’
Approaching 40 International Dragon teams have assembled in Abersoch, North Wales for the Dragon Northern Championship and Edinburgh Cup 2016, which are being hosted by the South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club from 2 to 9 July 2016. Abersoch is one of the UK’s premiere sailing venues and a perennial favourite with the Dragon fleet who will travel from across the UK, Ireland and as far afield as Japan to compete.
Presented to the class in 1949 by the Duke of Edinburgh, himself a keen Dragon sailor, the Edinburgh Cup is one of the most prestigious trophies in British yachting and is awarded annually to the winner of the International Dragon British Open Championship.
Amongst those hoping to claim the trophy this year is Martin Byrne, who won the Edinburgh Cup in 2011, the last time it was sailed from Abersoch, and who will be sailing with Donal Small and Adam Winkelmann. Byrne heads a strong four boat Irish team that also includes Clare Hogan, Anthony O’Neil and reigning Irish National Champion Neil Hegarty.
Leading the English fleet into battle is British Olympic Bronze Medallist, 2011 Dragon World Champion, 2013 Edinburgh Cup Champion and reigning Dragon Gold Cup Champion Lawrie Smith, who will be crewed by Joost Houweling and Adam Bowers. Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, who currently lies one place ahead of Smith in the Dragon International Ranking List in 10th place, has come close to winning the Edinburgh Cup on several occasions and this year will be racing with Mark Hart and Tim Tavinor in a bid to finally get her name on the trophy.
Abersoch’s home Dragon fleet has acquired a number of new boats in the past year and the quality of sailing amongst the fleet is exceptionally high this season. Perhaps the strongest local contender for the Cup is multi-class champion Mike Budd, who was runner up to Julia Bailey at the 2015 Edinburgh Cup in Largs and whose sailing CV includes victory in the 1978 Topper and 1980 Laser Nationals, the 1996 and 2000 RS400 Nationals and the 2015 Melges 24 National Championship. Budd will be sailing with Jeremy Entwhistle and Mark Greeves and will certainly be a strong favourite, especially if the breeze is up.
Fellow Abersoch fleet member Nick Whipp also has a well-deserved reputation for heavy airs sailing, whilst James Peters on the other hand could well shine if the breeze is lighter. Grant Gordon took the bronze medal at the 2013 Edinburgh Cup and has brought in top Dragon crew Kasper Harsburg to join him and regular crewman Ruaridh Scott in a bid to claim the gold medal this time around.
Japan’s Bocci Aoyama will be the furthest travelled entrant at this year’s Edinburgh Cup and he and regular crew Norio Igei will be joined by top professional Martin Payne, as he bids to become the first Japanese sailor to win the right to engrave his name on this very special trophy.
Tim Wilkes, Chairman of the British Dragon Association said “The BDA is delighted to be returning to Abersoch in support of the large and enthusiastic Dragon fleet, which has grown tremendously under the leadership of fleet captain Rob Riddel and his team. We always receive a terrific welcome from them and the SCYC and we expect to enjoy fantastic racing over the coming days. We are also very pleased with the strong turnout of teams this year.”
Registration for the Dragon Northern Area Championship took place on Saturday 2 July with a Skipper’s Briefing and Welcome Reception that evening. Northern Championship racing will take place on Sunday 4 and Monday 5 July with up to 6 races scheduled. The evening of Monday 4 July will feature the Edinburgh Cup Skippers Briefing followed by the Northern Championship Prize Giving and Dinner.
Racing for the Edinburgh Cup will commence on Tuesday 5 July and continue until Friday 8 July with up to 7 races scheduled. There will be après sailing gatherings each evening including a Champagne and Canapés Reception to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the formation of the British Dragon Association on Wednesday and the Edinburgh Cup Gala Dinner and Prize Giving on Friday.
Gwynedd Council’s invaluable support via ‘2016 Wales Year of Adventure – Snowdonia Mountain & Coast’ has made available the newly completed Pwllheli based Plas Heli Welsh Sailing Academy facilities. Gwynedd Councils generosity and commitment to outdoor and sport is pivotal to the successful execution of the two championships.
The Ted Fort Foundation recognises the importance of the UK’s top sailing events, Abersoch’s South Caernarfonshire Yacht Club welcomes their financial support with a warm thank-you.
Further information, news, results and photographs from the event will be available from www.edinburghcup.org or via the British Dragon Association Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/BritishDragonAssociation