The 2015 Dragon East Coast Championship was originally expected to be held in Levington but rather late in the day the responsibility landed on the doorstep of the Burnham Dragon Fleet and Fleet Captain René Nel. The Burnham fleet programme was rewritten such that the East Coast Championship would be raced for on Easter Saturday and Sunday and the traditional Burnham Easter Dragon Championship revised so that it was raced for over the weekends either side of Easter as well as races on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Being a little early in the season for some, numbers were a little down on previous years with ten boats that included two visitors - Nigel Kaula, Owen Paye and Matt Walker in Vibe and Mark Dicker, James Campbell and Drummond Sydenham in Rackham. The racing cannot proceed without a word from our fleet friends that make up the race management team headed by Edwin Buckley. The team on Phoebe were noticeably a man down this weekend, and those assembled in the bar remembered our much missed Race Officer Kim Allen with a one minute silence.
So to the racing, with a start line set a little North of Jubilee, the ten boats started their individual campaigns beating up tide and down river and were immediately into a series of short tacks so typical of our local racing. The front runners in race one were old adversaries Campbell, Quicksilver VI and Wade in Avalanche with the former having the early advantage with better tactics on the leeward legs but the latter had the edge upwind and this proved to be decisive, with Wade getting the first bullet. The start of race two was prompt, and clearly pumped after race one, both Campbell and Wade found themselves OCS and looking for a route back to the line to restart. This allowed Makey, Ganador, and Dicker in Rackham, to lead the fleet out into the Crouch. Makey managed to retain the lead from start to finish, holding off a late charge from Wade who, despite the restart, was relieved to recover to second place. Race three went to Mark Dicker, whose father Chris, a former IDA Chairman, won races and the Championship in Scorpio before she was owned by Ian Gray. The RCYC never lets members and visitors down with an evening of great food and COAST provided excellent music to keep a lot of the fleet dancing well into the night.
Sunday morning started with an AP but as the wind built, despite the forecast, the start line for race four was set close to the old Pile House with a beat to the east. The line had a port bias making it popular at the pin but difficult to cross on starboard. Those that got away cleanest were Gray, Campbell, Dicker and Wade with places swapping as the boats came out of the tide on starboard tack and out of the shallows on port tack. Gray established a lead from Wade and looked to have the race in the bag when tacking inshore for a finish at the pin, the favoured route for a full upwind. Wade however, chose to finish at the committee boat and stole the win. Races five and six were determined at the start with Dicker positioning his boat perfectly at the pin and creating a gap that none could close. With Wade claiming second in race five Avalanche, (Mark Wade, Mandy Wade, Andrew Norden) won the Championship from Rackham (Mark Dicker, James Campbell, Drummond Sydenham). While Gray's fourth place in race six secured the final spot on the podium for Scorpio (Ian Gray, Alex Burnett, René Nel) from Ganador (Martin Makey, Tim Wilkes, Teresa Wilkes).
The prize giving dinner was exceptional with our Chef, Simon, and the team in the kitchen delivering a fantastic meal, Tony and his team looking after the Bar and Dining Room and Class Captain René handing out prizes with the help of Commodore Annie Reid. On behalf of the fleet, René thanked everyone that needed thanking, too many for me to mention here, but we racers do appreciate that there are lots of people involved in making an event a success. It wasn't a late night...six races over two days, short tacking a Dragon had taken its toll. As ever, Sheena was on hand to arrange the prize winners for a group photo - a task not too dissimilar to herding cats.
Results can be found here, showing who sailed with whom, and who peaked when etc.