Mueller falters to leave race wide open
SAILING:WITH JUST two races remaining in the Brewin Dolphin Dragon Gold Cup in Kinsale, the overall win is wide open as Germany’s Tommy Mueller stumbled badly yesterday and dropped back to fourth place in the overall standings.
Russia’s Dmitry Samokhin, with Andrey Kirilyuk and Aleksey Bushuev, sailing Strange Little Girl moved into first place although the day belonged to the Corinthian team of Graham and Julia Bailey, with Dylan Potter and 11-year old Will Heritage, an Optimist sailor who is by far the youngest competitor in this event.
The British boat had its second consecutive race win of the series yesterday and but for two deep mid-fleet scores, they would have a higher positions than their 10th overall.
Fresh winds and sunshine graced the course off the Old Head of Kinsale and the standard two-plus mile long upwind legs were almost as testing as they have been, albeit with smaller wind-shifts that the previous day. Nevertheless, it was even these smaller shifts that caught Ireland’s Martin Byrne, with Adam Winkelmann and Pedro Andrade, who had been trailing the Baileys in second place but later slid down the leading pack to place eighth for the day.
Byrne was still pleased with the day as Jaguar is the best Irish boat again and is ninth overall and still has a decent chance of a higher place, provided the remaining two races go according to plan.
The Baileys had no such problems with spotting the shifting wind directions, aided in part by the extra set of eyes that their four-person configuration permits. Heritage has in fact been sailing with the Baileys since he was nine in this very adult class that is usually dominated by the traditional combination of three relatively heavy middle-aged or older men, one or more of whom are professional sailors.
With cross-over benefits from the single-handed junior boat to the Dragon keelboat and back again, his role is primarily on the bow where agility and strength are vital. But Graham Bailey also reckons the extra pair of hands means they can time their boat manoeuvres late, thus accumulating small gains over the course of the race.
“It’s amazing we’re Corinthians and all those professionals are here and to get on the right side of them is really good,” Heritage said last night. “It’s really nice as they come and say ‘well done’ when you’ve had a good day.”
The four-crew system has also paid-off for Ireland’s Claire Hogan, who was narrowly beaten by the Baileys on Tuesday in a race that was decided by a fraction of a boat-length. The Dún Laoghaire skipper was still thrilled with the result as her combination with Mel Collins, Laura Dillon and Graeme Grant gives her a weight advantage and a competitive edge against the traditional format of the three heavies on a Dragon.
With today’s penultimate race likely to be even more decisive as the top four places are barely separated by 10 points. Samokhin has Britain’s Lawrie Smith firmly back in second overall, in spite of his knee injury and continued fresh winds appear set to make this Gold Cup especially memorable.