RCYC sweeps the board at the Dragon Gold Cup 15 Sep 2008
With First, Second and Third places taken by three British boats, the event was described on the official website as being “absoluto domínio britânico”. However, not only were those places held by British boats, they all hailed from the RCYC! Danish Blue, Jerboa, and Quicksilver III also carried off the Nations Cup. Andrew (Noddy) Norden sent this report.
The 2008 International Dragon Gold Cup was held in Cascais, Portugal hosted by Club Nautico Cascais between 29 August and 05 September. The entry list of 74 boats from 16 Nations contained the usual stars of the Dragon Fleet and World and Olympic sailing. The Gold Cup is arguably the most prestigious event in the Dragon calendar raced for over six races with no score discarded.
The pre Gold Cup event was held in the fantastic race area just outside the marina with the strong wind and large Atlantic swell conditions typical to Cascais. These typical conditions did not carry through to the Gold Cup which proved testing for the entire fleet.
Racing mostly in sunshine and 8-12 knot breezes, the race management team provided excellent racing over 12 mile windward/ leeward courses. Each day the wind direction or race area was different, forcing crews to read the course and conditions rather than rely on tried and tested local knowledge.
The series proved dramatic from the beginning with the current World Champions (Muller/Hoesch/Scheibmar) leading pretty much from start to finish only to find that they had fallen foul of the black flag start and were disqualified from the three hour race. RCYC interests were better off with Danish Blue (Poul Hoj Jensen, Theis Palm and Andrew Norden) finishing fifth and Quicksilver III (Rob Campbell, Jonathan Hill and Matt Walker) finishing 21st. Also taking part was Jerboa, (Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, John Mortimer, Ron Rosenburg) from RCYC, Cowes.
As the series progressed there were daily surprises on the results list as many professional crews, multiple Gold Cup winners and pre race favourites struggled. Meanwhile Quicksilver III was finding her way around the race course and consistently sitting in the top four of the leader board and counting a third place in race three. Danish Blue was keeping in touch as was RCYC Cowes based boat Jerboa.
Going into the last race Danish Blue held a two point lead over a consistent Portuguese boat followed by Quicksilver III in third. With the breeze now at 18 knots there were many boats in contention. For Danish Blue things were a little ragged on the first upwind leg losing places on the inside of the course and accepting a two turn penalty at the first mark rounding. Quicksilver III and Jerboa were ahead and looked to be battling with three Ukrainian boats for the top race positions and possibly Gold Cup victory.
Danish Blue moved up the fleet and closed in on Quicksilver III but the threat from Jerboa in third was still present. Realising they needed to pull something out of the bag Quicksilver III went hard right on the final beat to the finish. Danish Blue opted to do battle on the left hand side chasing down Jerboa. No one really knew how Quicksilver III was doing; they were so far to the right one wondered if the tiller was stuck.
Coming into the finish Jerboa was passed twice to take fifth while Danish Blue overtook boats including Quicksilver. A ninth place finish from Danish Blue was enough to win the Gold Cup by four points from Jerboa and 9.7 from Quicksilver. The winning 95 points would not have got Danish Blue into the top 20 in the 2003 Gold Cup!
In Danish Blue it was a remarkable fifth Gold Cup win for Poul Hoj Jensen and the first for crew Theis and Noddy. Congratulations also go to Rob Campbell, Jonathon Hill and Matt Walker for an impressive 3rd place. The fact that three British boats topped the podium meant that the Nations Cup was also secured for Britain. The Gold Cup and prizes were awarded by Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark who had entertained Dragon Sailors on the Royal Yacht earlier in the week.