The 70th Dragon Edinburgh Cup was held last week in Torbay, with the Royal Torbay Yacht Club hosting both the nationals and the warm-up South West Championships. Whilst the rest of the country wrestled with intense heat and drought-like conditions, the south west and particularly the area around Torquay was wet, sometimes windy and sultry.
As usual, the Burnham Dragon fleet travellers were in fine fettle for this regatta and it’s fair to say that we all enjoyed ourselves very much, obeying the Dragon mantra of sailing hard and partying harder. Avalanche (Mark & Mandy Wade, Nigel Cole), Ganador (Martin Makey, Tim & Teresa Wilkes), Quicksilver VI (Rob Campbell & Penny Anderson, Paul Fletcher), Storm (Jono, David & Lyn Brown, Fran Wood) and Flame Again (David Hall, Julie Thomas-Page, Geoff Butcher), with Katie Cole guesting on Eric Williams’ Ecstatic proved just how family friendly the class is and how willing they are to travel far and wide to find a good party.
The full fleet of 28 boats had some tricky sailing conditions. Although Torbay is only four miles long and two miles wide, it provides some of the most testing racing. Some experts will tell you that if you only ever go right down the course, you’ll be fine. Well, there were definitely times when it paid to go left, but making that call was always hard.
Over half the fleet were professionally crewed and included past Dragon World and National Champions, Gold Cup winners and Olympians. All of us Burnham boats were Corinthian sailors and to beat some of these experts on the water was most satisfying. We were all delighted that a Corinthian boat won the Edinburgh Cup!
In the two day, six race South West Championships, the consistent Avalanche was 7th overall and 2nd Corinthian boat, the remaining boats in the 14-18 place bracket overall, Storm having sat out this series. However, they did not sit out the prize giving BBQ, generously hosted by our friends in the Abersoch fleet, who were promoting their running of the Edinburgh Cup in 2019. The wine flowed freely, the RTYC laid on an outstandingly good BBQ and we ate al fresco in the clubs evening sun trap rear garden with a wonderful view over the bay. Geoff even managed to trip up the steps, drink in hand, without spilling a drop.
So onto the main event and the pros were out cleaning their hulls in the foul waters of the harbour quayside. The wind was up and the rain began; definitely oilies weather. No sooner had the starting gun fired than Storm had to retire, sitting out the first two races; bit of a trend here. To be fair it was not their fault. They were hit by a port boat amidships, the bows of the offending, though deeply sorry, boat (from Abersoch, but I didn’t write that) smashing into the boom and breaking it, as well as ripping into the mainsail. Fortunately Jono was awarded average points in the ensuing, friendly protest. Meanwhile the rest of us were having a wild time, with down wind surfing providing many whey-hey moments. The subsequent four races took place in very much lighter airs and the RTYC race team, aided by Dragon Race Officer Gill Smith, did an excellent job to get all the races in.
On Wednesday it was the turn of the Solent fleet to entertain us, or more specifically the talented Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, who had taken a stunning five story house overlooking the bay and hosted another fabulous BBQ in the beautiful garden. The daily prize giving took place here and it was an emotional moment to watch Teresa and Mark present the magnificent Terry Wade Memorial Trophy to Grant Gordon, the winner of Race 4. Some of us tacked home along the winding Torquay roads that night. Thursday actually dawned bright and sunny; we were in for a phew, what a scorcher. Our turn Engerland! One race was got in during the morning and the crew’s race was run during the afternoon. Storm, Quicksilver VI, Flame Again and Avalanche all partook, with Mandy helming for the first time in many a year; she did really well, so watch out Mark! Perhaps more entertainingly, it was the turn of the Irish fleet to provide the goodies during the evening prize giving. More accurately, Martin Byrne donated many Guinness and Gin vouchers to the guests. They changed hands with alacrity and by the end of the evening your corishpondent wash well and twuly pished; but that was nothing compared to Nigel who, forgetting how to tack home, managed a run the whole way. With many broaches. And the odd Chinese bride. Gybe.
Friday and the last race, with all to play for. We knew we had a wonderful prize giving dinner ahead of us but there was the small matter of a race to be won. Three teams were in the running and all of us Burnham boats were loudly cheering on Graham Bailey in Aimee to win, ‘cos he was a Corinthian! His opposition came from Alfie (Lawrie Smith) and Louise (Grant Gordon). Mmm. Alfie & Louse; I feel a film coming on. Anyway, Graham had to win the race to win the trophy. And, dear reader, he did! Four up, including his wife Julia, the current BDA Chairman and two teenagers, Will Heritage and Will Bedford. Lot of will power on that boat. So ended a terrific competition. At the prize giving all the Burnham boats managed to get some glassware. Highest placed boat overall was Storm in 12th spot. But in the more important Corinthian class the Burnham boats were all within the top 11, including Storm in 2nd spot and Avalanche in 4th.