J. Lauritzen Dragon Championship 31 Dec 2007
The J. Lauritzen Dragon Championship was run by the Yacht Club Punta del Este (YCPE), in Uruguay between 25th November and 1st December 2007. A total of 37 dragons from 11 countries completed the ten race schedule over six days. British Dragons were well represented with six entries.
At the skippers’ briefing it was confirmed by the Race Officer that there was no current in the race area within Maldonado Bay, only for the first windward rounding of the practice race to be hampered by a good 3 knots of adverse current. Thankfully we did not see significant current for the races that followed although crews were checking buoys with tide sticks just to be sure.
Recently crowned World Champions Tommy Muller, Vincent Hoesch and Max Scheibmayr were the ‘in form’ boat but there were a number of crews intent on making an impression. The strongest start to the event was made by the RCYC’s Tim Tavinor. In Tim’s first IDA event as helmsman, and crewed by Noddy and Pachi, he lead the field after three races.
It became clear that the left hand side of the beat was often favoured which lead to some busy windward roundings with a number of boats arriving on Port tack. IDA Vice Chairman Peter Warrer was a consistent pin end starter and his chance to win overall suffered when he touched the pin in the start of race eight, forcing him to score his only finish outside the top ten (a race he could discard).
A competitive fleet enjoyed sunshine, flat water and steady breeze of 15-20 knots with excellent race management. The racing was not without incident and runners, backstays and masts were replaced throughout the week. Spare masts were in short supply but one way or another everyone was able to race.
In the end there were five boats that entered the last race with a chance of winning: Muller (GER 996), Warrer (DEN 380), Tavinor (GBR 725), Bailey (GBR 720) and Andersen (DEN 333). The race got underway and the top five boats rounded in the top six positions at the first mark to make for an exciting finale. Muller secured the third place required to ensure overall victory with Warrer’s last race win making him the series runner up. Meanwhile Bailey (Mrs.) continued a late run of form (beating Muller in the last five races) to secure a second place in race ten and the final podium place at the expense of Tavinor who slipped off the podium for the first time in the event.
The YCPE were proud and perfect hosts and with the help of the main sponsor, J. Lauritzen and nineteen other sponsors the club laid on complimentary food and drink after racing as well as three fully catered evenings of entertainment. The Uruguayan Navy Band played during the opening ceremony when we heard from the brother of Stig Holm, whose idea it had been to stage a Dragon championship in Punta del Este but had sadly passed away prior to the event. Later in the week Uruguayan drummers played after a wine tasting, and at the prize giving, accompanied by sequinned dancing girls who dazzled the guests.
At the prize giving the YCPE provided a souvenir for all competitors and people influential in the staging of the event. This was a model Sea Lion mounted on a base with the event plaque. Thousands of South American Sea Lions occupy a nearby island with the exception of a few wise 300kg Bulls that live in the marina, get fed by the local fishermen and sun bathe on the quay to the delight of tourists.
Tommy Muller having received an elegant winner’s trophy went on to thank the YCPE for an excellent series and presented a stunning ornamental compass to the YCPE Commodore for display within the club house. Yes the World Champions won, but their victory was only secured in the final race keeping the event alive to the end.
1st GER 996 Tommy Muller, Vincent Hoesch, Max Scheibmayr 58.4
2nd DEN 380 Peter Warrer, Lars Wegener, Thomas Sorensen 60.4
3rd GBR 720 Julia Bailey, Graham Bailey, David Heritage 64.7
4th GBR 725 Tim Tavinor, Noddy, Pachi 76.4
5th DEN 333 Thomas Andersen, Jan Feddersen, Jesper Seier 80.4