The 70th Dragon Gold Cup in Medemblik, which was sailed from 7 to 12 September, went well. On the opening day on Sunday there was no race due to lack of wind and also on Tuesday. These races were resailed on Monday and Wednesday, therefore all six scheduled races eventually were sailed. The conditions were perfectly, especially on the two last days. Moderate to strong wind, a light chop and plenty of Sun.
Markus Wieser won the Dragon Gold Cup in 2012, 2013 and now in 2014. 'In 2012 we didn't compete, so actually we win three times in a row,' says Wieser. 'The Gold Cup is our most important competition of this year. We came second at the European Championships and wanted to win here. We ended very disappointingly 25th in the third race and if that would happen one more time, it would be over. There is no discard, so all races count. We had a bad start in the third race, the wind was not strong enough and everything that could go wrong, went wrong. However, we have enjoyed a recovery in the rest of the races and remained in the lead in the ranking. This morning we even were thirteen points ahead of Lawrie Smith and fifteen of Yevgen Braslavets. But we thought we had nothing to fear of Pieter Heerema and then eventually he gets into second place.'
Wieser didn't find todays race easy. 'There was a lot of foam on the water, making you think that's where the pressure is, but then it turns out not to be. That is more often here at Medemblik. And because the starting line is so wide, you should consider in advance whether you want to go to the left or the right side of the field. We decided to go to the left and started just a little left of the center of the line, very conservative. Lawrie Smith chose the right side. We were 25th at the windward mark, but could fight back due to a few favourable wind shifts. At the downwind mark we were ninth and eventually finished seventh.
Wieser has already won many races in his life. He will never be bored by it, but according to him it takes away the pressure. Wieser: 'If you come here to achieve top ranking, then there is a lot of pressure on you. We were pretty relaxed, because we already won the event a few times and I think that makes a difference. The whole week was perfect. In the beginning we had a few disagreements with the Committee, but that is all well solved. Everyone has done it very well. Furthermore there was sun and no rain all week, what more do you want?'
Pieter Heerema was the best Dutchman and scored second place overall. Last year he came in third. Heerema: 'Our goal was top three. The first five would have been nice and the first ten acceptable. So, now we are very pleased. In the second race we had a disappointing score. After the start the wind shifted 40 degrees and the race officials decided to not abort the race. We were on the wrong side of the field and eventually we ended up 32nd. Because there is no discard at the Dragon Gold Cup, it counts very heavily. Otherwise we might have been able to win the event. But we made a huge comeback and we have sailed well and constantly the rest of the week. '
Heerema and his team train a lot during the year. 'In the Netherlands there almost is no competition,' says Heerema. 'That's why I sail with two Danes. You need to be very much focused and train a lot. For example, we already have planned our training schedule for the next year. For two years we have trained intensively for this event and have been to all the big races. Only by doing that, you make progress. I'm sailing the Dragon for 16 years now, but actually started twenty years ago. In between I have sailed the RC44, but I'm quite happy to be back in the Dragon. The RC44 was, however, a very good experience. That professional circuit, and I don't mean that the boys get paid, but the mentality. It is not accepted that it is not going well. Then you train even more and you have to become even better. '
Again in five years' time
According to the Chairman of the Dutch Dragons Class Huib Bannier the whole event went well: 'It is not often that all races can be sailed at a Dragon Gold Cup. All the sailors were wildly enthusiastic. It is a nice promotion for the Dragons class, which is strong and vibrant. The Dragon is also a great boat. In five years we hope to get the Dragon Gold Cup back to the Netherlands.
About the Dragon
In 1929 the Norwegian Johan Anker designed the one design Dragon for three people. This now 85-year-old lady is charming, competitive and challenging to sail. Soon afterwards the Dragon sailed around in various European countries. In 1948 the class got the Olympic status, which she held until the 1972 Games. In her post Olympic years the class kept on growing, partly thanks to the introduction of sustainable materials. Especially in the last twenty years more and more professional sailors stepped into the Dragon, with which the sailing level even further increased.
Fred Imhoff so far is the most successful Dragon sailor from the Netherlands. He and his team won the European title in 1998 and in total he won the Dragon Gold Cup three times. Ad Bakker was the very first Dutchman who won a Dragon Gold Cup (1987).
About the Dragon Gold Cup 2014
This season the post Olympic Dragon celebrates her 85-year anniversary with the 70th edition of the Dragon Gold Cup. This festive event takes place from September 7 to 12 2014 in Medemblik, Netherlands.
1. Markus Wieser, Pugachev Sergey, Leonchuk Georgii (UAE 7)
2. Pieter Heerema, Theis Palm, Claus Olesen (NED 412)
3. Braslavets Yevgen, Sidorov Igor, Timokhov Sergiy (UAE 8)
For the rest of the results see http://www.dragongoldcup2014.com/results.
– Diana Bogaards