Champagne Sailing at the Gold Cup 13 Sep 2008
Cascais is noted for ‘champagne sailing’, sunny with plenty of warm wind – shorts, polo and oilies. There certainly was plenty of warm wind when we arrived, with winds building through the day and sailors in the pre-pre event experiencing 35 knots, which built every day and made for a very busy week for Katie, who ran out of gelcoat before the Gold Cup even started…
It was therefore with some trepidation we contemplated nine days of battling such conditions in the pre-event, “Desafio Chrysler”, and the Gold Cup. However, both events were actually sailed in mostly force 2 -3, and thankfully plenty of sunshine. All very pleasant, Matt and I were left wondering why we ever sail anywhere else.
In Desafio Chrysler we sailed two races on each of three days. 2pm starts and late finishes were the order of the day, but with the weather so nice no one was concerned. The races were all held in what is the usual Cascais sailing area, slightly to the north of the marina, adjacent to the cliff face with the mountain backdrop making a spectacular setting. There were no outstanding performances by British boats, and the form book looked ominous when the event was won by Lars Hendriksen and crew in UKR9 Eva Bunker.
Burnham dragon sailors will probably be keen to have early notice that Eva, winner of last year’s Gold Cup is for sale. A forty plus year old restored Pedersen & Theusen, she is doubtless a snip for ?150,000, especially at current exchange rates.
After a lay day for entry and measurement formalities, it was on to the Gold Cup, with seventy-four boats competing. Irish boat Seabird, fresh from a convincing win at this year’s Edinburgh Cup, laid down a clear marker of intent, being first at the first windward mark and going on to win the practice race. Hmm, not often a good idea and they did not make much of an impact thereafter.
Hotshot team GER 996 Sinewave (Tommy Muller, Vincent Hoesch & Maximillian Scheibmar) also laid down a clear marker of intent in race one, pulling away from the fleet to cross the finish line first in race one. Unfortunately, they had also been one of the first to cross the start line, prematurely on a black flag as it turned out. As a no discard event, the Gold Cup is very unforgiving of such over enthusiasm and this effectively ended their chances of regaining the trophy they have won at least once before.
Accordingly, the newly donated BÃ¸rg BÃ¸rresen Trophy for race one, was won by RUS 44 Red October. As most readers will know, BÃ¸rg BÃ¸rresen was the premier builder of dragons for many years and competed in fifty one consecutive Gold Cups (winning on a number of occasions) prior to his recent death. A record which will surely not be broken for a very long time, if ever.
Day two offered races two and three. Again these were sailed in beautiful light conditions. Local knowledge in Cascais has it that going right will normally pay and the fleet clearly had this in mind in the way it attacked the early windward legs. The rebels however, including Louis Urvois on FRA 365, Ar Youleg II clearly demonstrated that the local knowledge was not to be blindly followed and it is fair to say the fleet got very mixed up, with a lot of top teams having bad results.
One top team however, GBR 688 Quicksilver III (Rob Campbell, Matt Walker and Jonathan Hill) managed a decent ninth and then a third place, which added to their twenty first the preceding day and much to their surprise, left them in second place overall at the end of the first three races. Another notable result from race 3 was that all the top three position were taken by corinthian boats (note small “c”). What was happening to all those much talked about professionals?
Over the next two days it became clear that this Gold Cup looked like being a relatively high scoring event and that consistency would be the key. By the end of day four, Quicksilver was lying third overall, but ominously enough GBR 735 Danish Blue (Poul Ricard Hoj Jensen, Andrew Norden & Theis Palm) , which had quietly and in customary style, been recording decent finishes in all races, had moved to the top of the fleet with a two point advantage. Another well known British boat, GBR 716 Jerboa (Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, John Mortimer & US ace Ron Rosenberg) had also been showing great consistency and impressive results after a disappointing race one, and had moved to fourth, just a few points below Quicksilver.
Thus the stage was set for Royal Corinthian boats (Jerboa is a RCYC Cowes boat) to do exceptionally well if they could all hold it together for one more race. Race six was sailed much closer to Lisbon and unusually the race committee set a course within the tidal influence of the River Tagus leading to a confused and unusually steep sea for what was still probably only a top end force three. Jerboa and Quicksilver definitely came off the line like boats that desperately wanted to seize a likely once in a lifetime opportunity to win Dragon sailing’s greatest prize. They were in the top five and ten places respectively at the first windward mark.
However, Danish Blue could be seen not far behind and was doubtless no less keen, even though “the man” has won four times before. And that is what they went on to do, moving up the fleet to close the gap on Jerboa and Quicksilver. Needless to say on Quicksilver we gave it everything we had, including a final leg split from the fleet in hope of that one magic shift, but it didn’t come and we held on to third place overall with which we were absolutely thrilled. Jerboa was best placed of the three in the final race and moved up to second overall.
So, very many congratulations to Danish Blue on a fantastic regatta and a thoroughly deserved win! But congratulations also to Jerboa and Quicksilver. The team event in the Gold Cup, the “Nations Cup”, was comfortably won by the British team, with a clear advantage over the all professional Ukraine Transbunker boys.
Other British boats racing included GBR 730 Scimitar Thomas Olrog (standing in for Julian Sowry who had a bad back), Claire Sowry & Philip Catmuir) 63rd, GBR 708 Rumours (Len Jones, Jamie Lee & Claus Hoj Jensen) 41st, GBR 723 Gorgeous Worgeous II (Quentin Strauss, Nigel Young & Lars Wegener) 38th, and Royal Corinthian boat (and hosts of the BBQ of the week), GBR 575 Flotation (Richard Davies, Titch Blandford & Patrick Welton) 63rd, with which they were disappointed but which looks like being more good news for Petticrows…