The Dragon Edinburgh Cup 2017 sponsored by Oliver Morgan Architects and Stoneham Construction Ltd came to a stylish conclusion in Cowes with a thrilling deciding race and a truly spectacular prize giving dinner and closing ceremony.
Going into the day, four boats were in contention to claim the prestigious Edinburgh Cup, which was first raced for off Cowes from the Island Sailing Club sixty-nine years ago. This year 38 teams from six nations challenged for the right to engrave their names onto the trophy and with a single race to go Graham Bailey sailing GBR782 Aimee with Julia Bailey, Will Heritage and Will Bedford, Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen sailing GBR813 Danish Blue with Hamish McKay and Paul Blowers, Andy Beadsworth sailing TUR1212 Provezza Dragon with Simon Fry and Ali Tezdiker, and Martin Payne sailing GBR585 Full Speed with Chris Britten and Gillian Hamilton were separated by only four points and all able to win.
Yet again the wind was incredibly shifty and ranging anywhere between 6 and 16 knots. The tide was taking the teams across the line and it took three attempts to get them underway. Payne fell foul of the black flag on the second attempted start and his chances of victory were over. When they finally got away at the third attempt Bailey opted for the Committee Boat end and Beadsworth and Hoj-Jensen were together at the pin. Initially Beadworth and Hoj-Jensen looked good but a massive right hander turned the tables and those on the right ended up having to reach in. Bailey rounded in fifth with Beadsworth and Hoj-Jensen safely behind them. While Eric Williams sailing GBR682 with Katie Cole and Rory Paton led the fleet, the second beat threw up another big shift and by the second weather mark Beadsworth had overtaken Bailey and the two rounded almost overlapped, while Hoj-Jensen had dropped down the fleet.
To win Beadsworth now needed to get three boats between himself and Bailey. Beadsworth tried every trick in the book but Bailey is not renowned as one of the calmest men in yachting for nothing, he kept his head and simply never gave Beadsworth the chance to get away. On the line Williams took the race by a comfortable margin with the family team of Jono, David and Lynette Brown and Frances Wood sailing GBR770 Storm second and Tom Vernon, Oliver Spensley-Corfield and Adam Bowers in GBR810 Badger third. Beadsworth followed them in for fourth with Ireland’s Martin Byrne in IRL216 Jaguar with Conor Byrne and Pedro Andrade fifth and Bailey sixth and secure as Edinburgh Cup Champion. Hoj-Jensen had his worst race of the series and finished sixteenth.
To close the regatta, the crews and their guests gathered at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club for a black tie prize giving dinner and dance. In welcoming everyone to the event’s finale, Regatta Chairman Gavia Wilkinson-Cox paid tribute to the sponsors and all the many volunteers who had helped make the regatta possible. She particularly praised the terrific work of the Race Committee led by Gill Smith who provided excellent races despite the exceptionally challenging conditions and she paid tribute to the wonderful Dragon Class and its incredible diversity saying, “We have newcomers – boat owners and crews (certainly for one, racing for the first time and only saw a Dragon for the first time last week!), women crews, women helms, teams of 3 crews, 4 crews, family crews, teenagers, disabled sailors,
Past, Present and future winners, international and national, Corinthian and Professional sailors. This is a reflection of the incredible diversity of the International Dragon Class. The age of this hugely competitive fleet (the boats!) spans 60 years! From Josephine of 1957 to the newest Provezza, launched this year! Both boats sail for Turkey, so at each end of the Fleet age group – does this make it Turkey Sandwich?! Or perhaps more ‘Turkish Delight’?!”
Following a sumptuous meal, the prizes were presented, with Graham and Julia Bailey and their teenage crew of Will Heritage and Will Bedford being awarded both the Edinburgh Cup and the Corinthian Trophy for all amateur crew to rousing cheers. Andy Beadsworth, Simon Fry and Ali Tezdiker were second in the overall competition while Tom Vernon’s third place in the final race had brought he, Oliver Spensley-Corfield and Adam Bowers up the rankings to fill the final step of the podium. In the Corinthian Division second place went to Jono, David and Lynette Brown and Frances Wood, while in third were Simon and James Barter and Donald Wilks.
With the prizes presented The Reverend Ian Bloomfield was called upon to give the final blessing and close the Edinburgh Cup 2017. Having offered up a most humourous prayer the “reverend” suddenly burst into song and was soon joined by one of the “waiting staff” and one of the “guests” in a surprise programme of popular opera including Nessun Dorma and Rule Brittania, which had the entire audience on their feet, singing along and waiving their napkins in the air. A truly fitting end to a marvelous regatta.
In 2018 the Dragon Edinburgh Cup will be held in Torquay from 30 June to 7 July.