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Dragon World Championship 2017 in Cascais

Andy Beadsworth sailing Provezza, the Turkish flagged entry with his team of Ali Tezdiker and Simon Fry won the first race of the 2017 Dragon World Championship in Cascais in superb sailing conditions and warm sunshine.

70 Dragons from 19 nations tackled the challenging waters off Cascais, only 20 km down the coast from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. For the first day of racing one longer race was scheduled using a two lap windward/leeward course of 2.2nm in length with a final upwind leg to the finish.

The race was started in gutsy 16 – 20 knots of breeze from 330 degrees, accompanied by rolling waves and warm hazy sunshine. The first start was postponed with a late shift causing a good proportion of the fleet to be over the line early. The second start under black flag was clear. The fleet were well spread across the course but it appeared to favour not hitting the edges.

After starting towards the pin end, Andy Beadsworth (TUR1212) tacked over to the right and controlled the lead group to round the windward mark in the lead from GBR 815 (Alfie) helmed by Lawrie Smith with a talented Portuguese crew made up multiple keelboat world champion and former Olympian Hugo Rocha and Youth Americas Cup sailors Joao Matos Rosa and Goncalo Ribeiro. GER1162 (Desert Holly) Stephan Link and the first of the Corinthian crews rounded in third.

The downwind ride was quite a rollercoaster in some good swell, easing off as the fleet reached the lower end of the course. Andy Beadsworth and his Provezza crew surfed down to the gate to maintain a 40 second lead from Lawrie Smith with RUS 27 (Annapurna) Anatoly Loginov advancing to third.

A course change was signalled at the bottom gate with a slightly shorter length leg. The second upwind leg was a bit more right favoured. Andy Beadsworth did a god job of covering his British counterpart Lawrie Smith, maintaining around a half minute lead at the top. There were some minor place changes in the top 10. NED 412 (Troika) with Pieter Heerema as skipper, picked up a few places on each leg to move up to fourth by the second windward mark rounding.

Day 1 – Dragon World Championships © Neuza Aires Pereira
Day 1 – Dragon World Championships © Neuza Aires Pereira

By the second downwind leg the fleet was a lot more spread out and the size of the waves getting smaller as the afternoon breeze seemed to fade to a more comfortable 15 – 16 knots. On the final upwind beat to the finish Andy Beadsworth just had to cover every move Lawrie Smith and his local crew could muster and crossed the finish line with a healthy 50 second lead.

Lawrie Smith maintained second with the Russian crew helmed by Anatoly Loginov closing in third. There was a slight shuffle of places in the top ten as a few Dragons appeared to over stand the finish line pin. The Dutch crew helmed by Peter Heerema held fourth and GER1177 (PowWow) Michael Zankel gained ground for fifth.

Andy Beadsworth sums up the first day of racing:

“An interesting day really when we left the dock there was not much breeze with a forecast of 15 – 18 knots, typical Cascais weather in the bay out there and it delivered.

Day 1 – Dragon World Championships © Neuza Aires Pereira
Day 1 – Dragon World Championships © Neuza Aires Pereira

But its always a difficult decision when to go right, we decided not to give away any of the bias and started towards the pin which was maybe 15 degrees bias, and tacked when we got the next shift and when we could. We could see boats struggling on the right getting lifted and I didn’t realise they were so light they had crews sitting to leeward whilst we were fully hiked!

At the windward mark we had well in excess of 20 knots and a really difficult wave direction on starboard. It was quite exciting, voices were quite tense and high but the hardest thing was finding the leeward marks! We sailed the whole run saying where the marks are!

From there on we just had to keep Lawrie in check, just stay between Lawrie and the mark, normal basic stuff really.

Speed wise we seem good upwind, Lawrie, is also good upwind, we have slightly different styles but there is not a lot of difference, but we seem to be a bit stronger downwind where we doubled our lead on both legs.”

by Jonny Fullerton / Grand Prix Sailing

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