Graham Bailey was most certainly man of the match on day three of the Brewin Dolphin Dragon Gold Cup 2012 in Kinsale where he claimed both Overall and Corinthian victory in race three of the six race series.
It was a day of snakes and ladders as the wind swung into the west at around 14-16 knots and became extremely shifty, putting the tacticians firmly in the hot seat.
The fleet was initially over eager but after a general recall they settled down and got away cleanly at the second attempt. The majority headed right for the cliffs but it was those who stayed centre left that got the best of the shifts and Graham Bailey sailed an absolute blinder of a first beat to lead the fleet by twice the distance of the spreader leg at the first weather mark. Behind him the pack was bunched with Ferenc Kis-Szölgyémi second closely followed by Tommy Mueller, Remy Arnaud, Dmitry Samokhin, Tim Pearson and Anatoly Loginov.
Bailey held his lead nicely on the first run whilst Mueller slid up into second with Arnaud now up to third and Kis-Szölgyémi down to fourth. The second beat brought a huge right-hander, which really shook up the fleet. Bailey's apparently unassailable lead disintegrated as Claire Hogan took full advantage of the shift, climbing from ninth to first to lead Bailey around the second weather mark. Kis-Szölgyémi had pulled back up into third with Loginov fourth, James Matthews fifth, Tanja Jacobsohn sixth, Simon Brien seventh and Andrew Craig eighth. Muller rounded ninth with Lawrie Smith in tenth.
Hogan, Bailey, Kis-Szölgyémi and Loginov held their places on the second run as Brien moved up into fifth with Jacobsohn sixth and Matthews seventh. The final beat was to feature an epic battle between Hogan and Bailey. Bailey takes up the story, "We took the left side of the beat and Claire took the right, so we split and the running boats came down through the middle separating us. Then all we could do was work with what we'd got. Sometimes they looked great - sometimes we looked OK. As we came toward the finished we just crossed ahead of them and had to decide do we tack or do we not. We didn't tack, but I didn't feel too good about that when they went to the left and the wind went 20 degrees their way and things didn't look too flash for a while. Coming into the finish we were bow to bow and we just managed to tack underneath them. The committee boat was favoured and we were on the right and just got it
." While Bailey and Hogan were slugging it out Mueller was working hard to consolidate his overall lead in the regatta by sailing himself up from ninth to third, Kis-Szölgyémi crossed the line in fourth and Smith was fifth.
At the half way point in the regatta, Germany's Tommy Mueller, who won the Dragon Gold Cup in 2002 and is sailing with Michael Lipp and Vincent Hoesch, himself a five time Gold Cup Champion, now leads the no-discard series with eight points. Russia's Dmitry Samokhin, who is crewed by Russian Olympic Tornado sailor Andrey Kirilyuk and Aleksey Bushuev - has gone from fourth into second place on 21 points. British Olympic Bronze Medallist and reigning Dragon World Champion Lawrie Smith, who is nursing a serious knee injury sustained earlier in the week and is crewed by Tim Tavinor and Joost Houweling, has jumped from seventh to third overall on 24 points and Hungary's Ferenc Kis-Szölgyémi goes from ninth to fourth and is now just one point behind Smith. Overnight second placed Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen, a five time Dragon Gold Cup champion, and third placed Joergen Schoenherr, who has won it three times, both had decidedly mediocre days with Hoj-Jensen finishing 34th and Schoenherr 28th. As a result Schoenherr has slumped to seventh overall and Hoj-Jensen to eighth.
Race three winner Graham Bailey from Cowes, whose crew includes 11 year old Will Heritage - the youngest competitor in the regatta, also led the Corinthian fleet across the line with Frenchman Remy Arnaud second and Cork native James Matthews, who recently returned to sailing after a four year break, third. Overnight leader Reemt Reemtsma from the Netherlands, had a mediocre day adding a 13th to his score line whilst Kinsale Yacht Club Commodore Cameron Good, who went into the day second overall, took 7th. In the overall Corinthian standings Good now leads the regatta on 12 points whilst Reemstma, Bailey and Matthews are all counting 17 points and lie second to fourth respectively on count back.
Three races remain to be sailed and the regatta continues until Friday 14 September. With a forecast for more strong winds over the coming days the crews are bracing themselves for three more days of extremely challenging sailing.
Results at the Event Website