INCIDENT FILLED DAY TWO AT THE YANMAR DRAGON GOLD CUP 2023
- Portugal’s Michael Zankel wins race two from Sweden’s Jan Secher and Switzerland’s Dirk Oldenburgh
- Lawrie Smith is dismasted whilst leading the fleet but claims redress and continues to lead the regatta.
- Simon Barter from the UK wins Corinthian race two and takes Corinthian overall lead.
- Big shifts, big changes in velocity, two black flags and a man overboard make it an eventful second day.
- Great Britain leads the Nations Cup competition.
11 September 2023 – Torquay, UK – The second day of racing at the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2023 in Torquay brought an intensely fought second race and more than a few dramatic incidents.
Just as the race was about to get underway a call came over the VHF to announce that one of the competitors had fallen overboard by the pin mark. The Race Committee immediately announced a short postponement and tasked RIBs to assist. Fortunately, the competitor was rapidly back in his boat, a towel and some dry clothes were found, and they went on to race.
As soon as the man overboard was resolved the race committee went back into action. With a slight current pushing the boats over the line, it took three attempts to get the fleet away, the third under black flag. Caught out by that black flag were GBR192 Graham Bailey and GBR831 Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, who headed home for a leisurely lunch.
For the rest of the fleet, a two and a half mile beat across the mouth of Torbay in a very shifty and variable south westerly lay ahead of them. At the weather mark it was SUI313 Dirk Oldenburg that led the pack, closely followed by POR90 Michael Zankel, GER1221 Jan Wortman, SWE800 Jan Secher, GRB820 Grant Gordon, GBR815 Lawrie Smith, GBR682 Eric Williams, GER62 Stephan Link and TUR12 Andy Beadsworth.
Oldenburgh held his lead down the first run, while Secher pulled up into second with Gordon third. Beadsworth and Zankel rounded neck and neck with Beadsworth taking the starboard gate and Zankel the port. Williams and Link also rounded simultaneously on opposite buoys with Smith right on Link’s heels.
The wind was going right, and the committee had signalled a change of course with the weather mark now just off Berry Head. With the breeze all over the show and anything from 5 to 12 knots it was nip and tuck between the leading group all the way up the beat, but as they came round the mark Smith was ahead of Secher, Gordon, Oldenburgh, Zankel, Beadsworth and Williams.
As the leaders hoisted and took off down the run the remainder of the fleet was still coming in on the port lay line. Unfortunately, one of the up-bound boats, Stephan Schutze’s GER883, failed to keep clear and caught Smith’s rig, dismasting both boats. Although Schutze did the correct thing and formally retired, back ashore Smith went to the jury to request redress and was awarded average points.
The remaining pack continued to battle it out and places changed constantly. On the final beat Zankel got ahead and finished the race with a ten second lead. Behind him Secher beat Oldenburgh by inches, with Waschkuhn fourth, Beadsworth fifth, Gordon sixth and Williams seventh, all within a few seconds of each other. Belgium’s Xavier Vanneste had another good day and finished in eighth.
Michael Zankel was delighted with their performance today saying, “We had a very good day and we finished first. We got a good start and were always on the right side. At the last mark we were third or fourth and then we managed it. The sailing was very hard. We have a very good boat. It’s not our boat, we chartered it, and we have new sails from 8D Sails, which we’re using for the first time here. And it works, but we have four more days, and we will see at the end.”.
Jan Secher was also a happy man and commented, “It’s been a good day for us. We came in second with a very tight finish, really it was centimetres apart, but we’re really happy. It was quite shifty, not quite as shifty as yesterday when we had a big righty come through and we didn’t have quite the same shifts today. It was really flukey, both in terms of direction and pressure, in particular the end of, the second run when we ran out of wind at the end. We didn’t have a super good day yesterday, so this gets us back in there, we’re sitting in tenth overall and its very tight, which it normally is at the beginning of the regatta. We’re looking forward to the rest of it, great racing, really good administration and a great race committee.”.
Although Zankel won the race, Smith’s first day win means that currently his average points give him two first places, so in the overall standings with two races now completed he continues to lead the regatta. Wolf Waschkuhn’s fourth puts him second overall, with Xavier Vanneste now lying third with a fifth and an eighth. Peter Gilmour had a steady day adding a twelfth to yesterday’s third, putting him into fourth overall, with Grant Gordon fifth.
Speaking immediately after racing Wolf Waschkuhn said, “We have two fourths now so we are first or second, as if Lawrie is reinstated it will be second. There were big holes in the course, especially in the middle. If you were caught in the middle, then you stayed in the doldrums and that was a problem. We got a very good start, probably leading the fleet together with Provezza, then lost the lead and had to play catch up over the course of the race, and eventually came fourth, a decent result. The Gold Cup is all about consistency and so far, we’re consistent.”.
Dirk Oldenburgh also acknowledged what a challenging day it had been, “We had a very good day, a difficult day and successful day, especially after we had a difficult, not successful day yesterday. The conditions were better today, it was tricky, it was difficult, the waves were difficult, the sea state was difficult, and the shifts were difficult, but overall we were happy and lucky!”
In the Corinthian division the day’s top performer was GBR763 Simon Barter, with GBR818 David Tabb second and GER1113 Thomas Scherer third. In the overall Corinthian standings Barter now leads the fleet from Holland’s Guus de Groot and Britain’s David Tabb.
Simon Barter commented, “Overall it’s been great. We’ve had tremendous conditions, challenging, and the quality of the fleet is exception. We feel that if we are in the top half of the field, we’re doing a good job so we’re very pleased with where we got to. There were lots of shifts out there today and the most important thing was just keeping your eyes out of the boat and having the courage of your convictions to sit through a difficult patch knowing you could try and get somewhere there was a bit more breeze.”.
Alongside the overall and Corinthian results, there is also a special ranking for the top performing national teams. The teams are set based on the top three performing boats from each nation in the opening race. After two races the United Kingdon team, comprising Lawrie Smith, Grant Gordon and David Tabb, leads the Nations Cup from the German team of Jan Woortman, Olaf Sternel and Stephan Link, with Ireland’s Neil Hegarty, Brian Goggin and Jonathan Bourke third.
For day three light airs are forecast for the morning with the breeze building in the afternoon, so the Race Committee has announced that the start of race three will be postponed from noon until 2pm. Four 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 TOP FIVE AFTER TWO RACES
1st – Lawrie Smith, GBR815, Alfie – 1, 1 = 2
2nd – Wolf Waschkuhn, SUI318, 1quick1 – 4, 4 = 8
3rd – Xavier Vanneste, BEL82, Herbie – 5, 8 = 13
4th – Peter Gilmour, JPN56, YRed – 3, 12 = 15
5th – Grant Gordon, GBR820, Louise Racing – 12, 6 = 18