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Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2023 at the Royal Torbay Yacht Club - Day 4

by British Dragon Association 13 Sep 22:02 BST 10-15 September 2023

Day four of the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2023 in Torquay brought frustration for the sailors and race committee alike, as race four of the six race series had to be abandoned on the second beat when the wind died off completely.

As a result there are no changes in the overall standings and Lawrie Smith of Glandore YC continues to lead the fleet from Switzerlands Wolf Waschkuhn with Belgium's Xavier Vanneste third, Andy Beadsworth sailing for Turkey fourth and Denmark's Bo Johansen fifth.

The fleet had gone afloat early for an 09:30 start knowing that the wind was likely to drop off by lunchtime. It took three attempts to get the race under way but eventually they started under the U flag and with a clear line. Conditions were already light and shifty, but it was sailable so away they went under grey skies in about 6 knots from 045 degrees on a 2.5 mile first leg.

As has been typical this week the wind was shifting all over the show but trending to the right, and very variable and patchy. Those who went right came out on top, with Britain's David Tabb banging the right corner hardest of all and rounding the first mark well ahead of the rest of the fleet. The race committee adjusted the leeward mark to allow for the shifting wind and shortened the leg length down to 2 miles and as they set off down the run the breeze was just holding.

The sun started to burn through the cloud and with it the wind started to go soft as they came to the bottom of the first run. But as they rounded onto the second beat it picked up again, now from 100 degrees. It was tough going up the second beat with lots of holes and impossible to predict shifts. Initially the new breeze held, but sadly, as the leaders were within sniffing distance of the second weather mark, the breeze gave up completely and Race Officer Stuart Childerley was left with no option but to abandon the race.

For some this was a relief, but for others the disappointment was obvious. Britian's David Tabb has been having a good regatta and would dearly have loved to win a race while others like Grant Gordon were struggling and were no doubt pleased to hear the announcement come over the radio. After racing a sanguine Grant Gordon said, "The Gold Cup is obviously one of the most challenging trophies in the Dragon world and Torquay is living up to expectation. It's a good venue, it's obviously super difficult, especially with the offshore breeze yesterday, so that was really rather tough. But we love being here, we're enjoying it and we're taking the rough with the smooth."

Amongst those sad to see the race abandoned was Britain's Dave Ross who was having his best race of the regatta so far and looked good for a possible top ten finish. Back ashore Ross summed up his team's feelings saying, "We're loving Torquay, an interesting sailing venue and an interesting sailing area. Obviously, it was disappointing for us today, but we're having a great time. I've got a great team around me, but it's challenging to say the least."

Having announced that there would be no further racing today, the Royal Torbay's support boats swung into action to tow the entire fleet home. Back ashore everyone took advantage of the warm English Riveira sunshing and the delicious pasties - a west country delicacy - and after racing drinks which are being supported by Official Suppliers Salcombe Brewery, Plymouth Gin, Havana Rum and Tolchards Drinks.

The quality of the sailors competing in this regatta is exceptional with many big names amongst the crews and helms, from America's Cup veterans and Olympic Medallists to multi-class World and European Champions and even the odd Vende Globe veteran. Names like Pedro Andrade, Andy Beadsworth, Simon Fry, Peter Gilmour, Stephan Link, Gustavo Lima, Graham Bailey, Brian Goggin, Ian Ainslie, Charles Nankin, Jaoa Vidinha, Theis Palm, Frederico Melo, Martin Payne, Richard Sydenham, Gerry Mitchell, Lawrie Smith, Richard Parslow, Luke Patience, Faye Chatterton, Pip Hare, Michael Hestbaek and Martin Westerdahl, to name but a few, are out on the course helping to create a championship of the highest quality.

Alongside the big names there are also plenty of all amateur crews, crews of family and friends, youngsters and veterans, and lady helms and crews. The youngest competitor is 12-year-old Diogo Reis, who is one of Portugal's leading young Optimist sailors and is crewing for Peter Cunningham aboard CAY9. At the other end of the age spectrum, we have Dragon veteran Ron James who, at 83 years young, is still racing his beautiful cold moulded varnished Dragon Fei-Lin's Flirtations at regattas across Europe.

There are lots of female crews and one all lady team led by Sandy Anderson from Australia, who is crewed by Susan Parker and Caroline Gibson. Sailing Naiad from Aldeburgh we have three generations of the same family with Grandfather Mike Hayles, son Nick Hayles and grandson Terry Hacker. And also flying the flag for sailing with family are Sam and Peter Gilmour, Jonny and Joao Matos Rosa, Graham and Julia Bailey, Christoph and Georg Skolaut, Daniel and Sean Murphy, Ollie and Elliot Spensley, Tim and Teresa Wilkes, Thomas and Anton Schere and Magdalena and Stephan Grundt. And sailing against each other are father and son Guus and Jeroen de Groot.

The forecast for day five looks more promising and the Race Committee has announced that it intends to run two races if possible. Three races remain to be sailed between now and the conclusion of the regatta on Friday 15 September and the result of all races count. Further information is available at the event website.

Provisional Results after Day 4: (top five, 3 races)

1st - Lawrie Smith, GBR815, Alfie - 1, 1, 3 = 4pts
2nd - Wolf Waschkuhn, SUI318, 1quick1 - 4, 4, 12 = 20pts
3rd - Xavier Vanneste, BEL82, Herbie - 5, 8, 8 = 21pts
4th - Andy Beadsworth, TUR12, Provezza Dragon - 16, 6, 2 = 24pts
5th - Bo Johansen, DEN423, Deja Vu Ver. 2.0 - 2, 24, 1 = 27pts

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