Introducing Our Edinburgh Cup Race Officer Rob Brown

It truly is a case of Poacher turned Game Keeper for our 75th Edinburgh Cup Race Officer Rob Brown. Rob won the Edinburgh Cup in 1994 in Bangor, just one of many topflight Dragon sailing successes during his sailing career and will run his second Edinburgh Cup as Race Officer in Cowes this August. We asked him to tell us a bit more about his history with the Dragons and what he’s looking forward to at this year’s regatta.

“I started being around boats at Granton, driving the RFYC launch during summer holidays before being asked to crew on a local Dragon K239, a McGruer, age about 10. I progressed to a more successful Dragon as foredeck over next few years. The Class was very strong at Royal Forth and there were many opportunities to gain experience with great sailors. 

“My mentors were Ken Gumley and Marshall Napier both of whom were regular competitors in the Edinburgh Cup, Gumley winning it twice. My first Edinburgh Cup was at Cowes in 1964 with Marshall but we did not excel. We were then runners-up at Torquay in 1970.

“My first taste of victory in the Edinburgh Cup was as foredeck on Ken Gumley’s Rogue in Abersoch in 1969. I have sailed in all the Edinburgh Cup venues except Cornwall and Largs, about fifteen times in all. In addition, I have sailed Dragon Europeans and Worlds as far afield as Geelong.

“In 1987 I won the Irish Dragon Championship, and I won the Edinburgh Cup in Bangor in 1994, having campaigned Sabbatical for a few years. My crew comprised Lars Henriksen and Hamish Mackay, both now very well-known in the Class. I also won the French Championships at Arcachon with Hamish and Paul Ricard Hoj Jensen in my new Petticrow GBR 591 in 1993

“After my election to the Royal Yacht Squadron in 2009 I became involved in race management. The Club was very proactive in the training of new Race Officers as older ones retired. Peter Saxton, one the RYA’s most senior race officer trainers, became a member and took this process further, concluding with an additional five National Race Officers (NROs). 

“I was Deputy Race Officer for the Edinburgh Cup at Largs in 2015, and Race Officer in Edinburgh in 2021. I have quite a bit of experience running dinghy events on the Clyde, including being Principal Race Officer for the Scottish Series at Tarbert and local Etchells at Royal Gourock YC, my home base. 

“Last year with the Etchells Worlds and Europeans at Cowes I was fortunate to work as Deputy Race Officer with Peter Saxton. 

“Each Class brings differing characteristics, for example some are very aggressive and will push the Race and Protest Committee to the maximum, others, like the Dragon, prefer to temper their competitiveness with a more gracious approach. I consider myself a Dragon chap through and through and remind myself that we all do this for fun and enjoyment, a characteristic which the Dragons have always displayed.

“Our aim is to give the Class excellent and fair racing and to have fun on and off the water. Tides can be demanding on the Solent, but we have a few tricks up our sleeves to overcome this. The RYS team is largely that which ran the Etchells Worlds last year and we are a well-practiced group as a result. My Deputy Race Officer will be Tony Singer, another ex-Dragon sailor and an NRO. There will be two further NROs including James Hynes as chief mark layer. The Club has a state-of-the-art committee vessel and at least two large jet ribs will be assigned to the Event, allowing us to set and move courses rapidly. 

“It will be a huge honour to me to be given a chance to run this event given my love for the Class. There will be competitors who I have known for many decades, including our Regatta Chair Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, who has been a delight to work with. 

“The Royal Yacht Squadron Castle and newly refurbished Pavillion will provide a great venue to meet up with old friends and new.”