Dragons head for Falmouth

South Wstern Championship preceeds next weekend's Edinburgh Cup

Thursday July 2nd 2009, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
Dragon sailors from the UK, Ireland, France and the USA are congregating in Falmouth this week in preparation for the Dragon South Western Championship and the Edinburgh Cup, awarded annually to the winner of the British Dragon Open Championship. Both events are sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management and will be hosted by the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club, Falmouth from 4 to 11 July 2009.

Among the 27 teams entered are all the top UK crews, several of whom have returned especially from the European racing circuit just to challenge for the prestigious Edinburgh Cup. Making a welcome return to event for the first time in several years are Julia and Graham Bailey who will be crewed by David 'Big H' Heritage. This Isle of Wight based husband and wife team have always had the ability to put in a great championship performance and with Julia at the helm she will no doubt have her sights set on her becoming the first woman to win the Edinburgh Cup.

Equally determined to be the first woman to engrave her name on the trophy is Gavia Wilkinson-Cox whose recent successes on the International Circuit include winning the Nations Cup and placing second overall at the 2009 Dragon Gold Cup (the best performance by a British helm in 35 years). Gavia was the highest place Brit at last year's Edinburgh Cup, finishing 3rd overall behind Ireland's Don O'Donoghue and Louis Urvois from France, and comes to the regatta fresh from a hectic winter and spring on the European circuit. Gavia will be crewed by Mark 'Crash' Daly and Mark Hart.

Other top British names to look out for include IDA Chairman Rob Campbell, who finished third at last year's Gold Cup; Ron and Julia James, who have just returned from victory at the Open International Dragon Regatta in Deauville; former British Olympic Finn representative Tim Tavinor racing with Thomas and Nicola Wilton; Len Jones who will have multiple dinghy and keelboat champion Jamie Lea whispering tactical sweet nothings in his ear; BDA Vice Chairman Patrick Gifford, Mark Wade and IDA Technical Chairman Mike Hayles.

The overseas contingent is a particularly strong one this year and includes Ireland's Andrew Craig and Etienne Lafon from France, who are both regular podium finishers on the international circuit, and American Ted Sawyer, sailing with regular tactician and Dragon sailing legend Martin 'Stavros' Payne, who will be hoping to better last year's fifth place.

Top favourite of the local boats is Chris 'Buddha' Hunt, who first sailed a Dragon at last year's Edinburgh Cup. Although somewhat tentative at the start of that regatta by the final days he was regularly showing up near the front of the fleet and with a new boat and a year's sailing under his belt, not to mention Mike Relling as tactician, he could give the regular leading lights something of a surprise.

The South Western Championship will take place from 5-7 July and will be followed by the Edinburgh Cup over 8-11 July. The Principal Race Officer will be Jonathan Money who has the option to sail in either Falmouth Bay or Carrick Roads to ensure the best possible chance of racing in all weather conditions. Both events will have new prizes for boats sailed entirely by amateur crews and prizes for older boats, both wooden 'classics' and the often neglected older GRP boats.

With the Dragon celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, the Edinburgh Cup will feature a number of special social activities including a Gala dinner at the spectacular Trebah Gardens on the Helford River. In keeping with the 80th anniversary theme for the evening guests being transported to the dinner by ferry and will return home in historic buses. Other après sailing events will include an event at the National Maritime Museum.

The British Dragon Association would like to thank title sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management and supporting sponsor Petticrows Ltd for their most generous support of this event. Aberdeen Asset Management PLC is an international investment management group, managing assets for both institutions and private individuals from offices around the world. Founded in 1896 Petticrows Ltd is one of the World's leading builders of one design racing yachts including the International Dragon.

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