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The Dublin Bay Dragon Fleet host their East Coast Championships at the Royal St George Yacht Club this weekend.

15 entries are expected from the Dragon Fleets in Dun Laoghaire, Kinsale, Glandore and Abersoch in Wales in the first Championship event for 2018 sponsored by local Dún Laoghaire business, A Stitch in Time Embroiderers.

While the Glandore Dragon Fleet these days provide the greatest fleet numbers the teams from the Dublin Bay Dragon Fleet have for some time been taking the Class Championship titles.

In recent years, Neil Hegarty, Peter Bowring & David Williams with Phantom have been sharing the National Championship title with Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team. These teams are both from the Royal St George YC. Also, Cameron Good in ‘Little Fella’ from Kinsale YC can always be found at the top of the fleet.

However, this weekend the Irish Dragons will have their biggest challenge from the number one ranked British Dragon team ‘Harry’ GBR 818 helmed by the legendary Mike Budd.

"Mike Budd’s reputation is feared amongst the sailors in most one-design fleets"

Mike Budd’s reputation is feared amongst the sailors in most one-design fleets as, over the years, he has won no less than eight UK National Championship Titles in various Classes in dinghies & keelboats. Also, he is often to be found as the tactician aboard Conor Phelan’s Class 1 racing keelboat ‘Jump Juice’ from RCYC.

However, after many attempts, he has yet to win the historic Edinburgh Cup which is the UK Dragon National Championship. This event was last won by an Irish team when Martin Byrne’s Jaguar took the title in 2011 & then finished 2nd in 2012. Budd arrives in Dun Laoghaire this weekend with a brand new Dragon and, by his own admission, claims he needs to pace himself against the fastest in the Irish Dragon Fleet if he has any chance at winning his first Edinburgh Cup in Torbay next July. At last year’s Edinburgh Cup in Cowes Budd finished eight overall whereas Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team finished 4th. In the previous years, Ed Cup in 2016 Phantom won the final two races to finish 5th overall. So Budd clearly sees the Irish Dragon Fleet as offering some meaningful opposition in his quest for the Edinburgh Cup.

The Dragons start racing in their East Coast Championship on Friday at 13.00hrs on Dublin Bay and continue until Sunday in the six race series.

Published in Dragon
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There's an unexpectedly icy welcome for the Dragon fleet in Cannes, this week where the 'Beast from the East' is making its presence felt earlier in the South of France than it is in Ireland. 

Unseasonably low temperatures and high winds will test the sailors over the next four days.

The Dragon fleet is assembled for the Grand Prix Regatta and they're expecting a tough few days.

Racing at the event is due to start tomorrow.

North Sails is a major supplier to the fleet and North Sails Ireland's Nigel Young will be racing in the regatta this year.

Published in North Sails Ireland

When Ireland’s senior Dragon sailor Don Street (87) of Glandore bids us to pay attention, we always do, as Don’s experience in many areas of sailing is unrivalled writes W M Nixon.

But when Don suggests we all sit up and take notice of the sailing of Gordon Ingate of Australia, there are many of us already right there with the Guru of Glandore. For Gordon Ingate of Tasmania makes the well-tested slogan “Sailing: A Sport for Life” seem barely adequate, as he is still winning serious races at the age of 92, and everything about the man is an inspiration.

His most recent achievement was a clear victory in the Australian Dragon Championship 2018 in Victoria, which concluded at the weekend. Racing against a fleet of 26 boats, and crewed by Amy Walsh and David Giles, his boat Whimsical was anything but. His clear victory of 4 points including three bullets was about as un-whimsical as you can get.

But then, this perhaps greatest Corinthian sailor the world has ever seen seems to specialize in clearcut wins in boats whose names indicate a certain vagueness. He first leapt to international renown in the 1965 Admirals Cup, when he was one of the Australian team with his classic Robert Clark-designed Caprice of Huon

Caprice was an elegant veteran of 1948 or thereabouts, strongly built of the finest Huon pine. But Ingate and his crew had her in such perfect racing trim in 1965 that she cut a swathe through the fleet, particularly in the Solent racing where he made off with major trophies in Cowes Week. Two years later in 1967, he and Caprice were back again with team mates who matched his previous performance, and they won the Admiral’s Cup.

gordon ingate2Gordon Ingate – still winning majors at the age of 92

Thereafter, he was very much a force to be reckoned with at Olympic and America’s Cup level. But he’s at his best when racing his own boat tuned to his own very high standards, and racing in fleets which provide the proper settings for his skill sets. Grown-up sailing, in other words.

Thus it was altogether appropriate that when a celebrity was sought to fire the starting cannon for the recent Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, they asked Gordon Ingate to do the honours. The Australian commentator didn’t even have to think of saying who he was. And now he has won in the Australian Dragons Nationals. Yet again.

That said, our own Don Street is as full of enthusiasm as ever, and his latest evidence of eternal youth is a drive to get the Glandore Dragons to permit racing crews of four. This is so that any youngsters keen to learn about these wonderful boats can get a taste of it without initially being expected to play a crucial crewing role.

The ancient Howth 17s tested the idea some years ago. It worked so well that racing four up is now the preferred option for many boats. And it has been so successful in introducing newcomers to the class that the fleet is in better order than ever – not bad going for a class founded in 1898.

glandore dragons3The Glandore Dragons – veteran skipper Don Street argues convincingly that they should permit a fourth hand aboard for racing to encourage class growth. Photo Kathleen Hayes

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#NorthSails - As previously reported, North Sails celebrated a record-smashing year for offshore yachting titans competing with its 3Di performance sails.

But clients of the sailmaker — with a longstanding base in Myrtleville, Co Cork — also had a big year across the One Design classes around the globe.

In the Etchells class, Stella Blue helmed by Steve Benjamin won the 2017 Worlds in San Francisco at an event where fellow North Sails clients Senet Bischoff and KGB took the Corinthian title and finished third overall.

Elsewhere, in Toronto, Rossi Milev’s Clear Air sailed into first place at the J/24 Worlds, the same event where Lizzy McDowell’s U25 Howth Yacht Club team Scandal finished a respectable 42nd amid the mammoth international field.

Fellow Howth sailor Laura Dillon on Cloud finished 33rd in the Dragon World Championships in Cascais last June, which saw North Sails powering clients into first (Provezza Dragon, Andy Beadsworth), third (Alfie, Lawrie Smith), fourth (Desert Eagle, Hendrik Witzmann), fifth (Rocknrolla, Dmitry Samokhin), ninth (Louise, Grant Gordon) and 10th (Jeanie, Jens Rathsack) places overall.

And Spanish sailor María Perelló, using North Sails’ Radial R2, won the girls division at the Optimist Worlds in Thailand last July, where Ireland enjoyed had a strong showing in team racing.

North Sails is the world’s leading sailmaker for One Design classes with more national, world and Olympic class victories than all other sailmakers combined.

Published in North Sails Ireland

The RStGYC team retained the Cannonball Trophy for another year but only because there was no final result this weekend on the Solent.

Racing was blown out on Saturday because of 25+knot winds all day. This was followed by literally no wind on Sunday when only two very flukey races were completed.

It was a very unfortunate set of circumstances for The Royal London Yacht Club, the organiser of the event.

Next year the Royal St George host the event when they will use their newly acquired fleet of J80’s as the race boats.

A team from the Royal St George YC return to Cowes in defence of the Dragon Cannonball Team Racing Trophy.

Their competitors included the Royal London YC, the Royal Netherlands YC and the Royal Channel Islands YC.

As a new addition to the mix this year the hosts in Cowes, The Royal London Yacht Club introduced a brand new fleet of J70’s as the race boats.

The Royal St George YC team include former winning helms, Martin Byrne and Tim Pearson who were joined this year by another Dublin Bay Dragon sailor Clare Hogan.

This year the RSGYC invited Conor Byrne, who crewed on his fathers “Jaguar Sailing Team” this season to join the crew. These two return to Cowes together where they enjoyed some success at the British Dragon South Coasts & the Edinburgh Cup last July.

The British Team included recent Dragon Edinburgh Cup Champions, Graham & Julia Bailey who will be racing on their home waters on the Solent. Also the Dutch Team include former Gold Cup & Olympic Medalists in their team.

Published in Dragon
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The second day of racing at the Dragon South Coast Championships has been cancelled at Kinsale Yacht Club following two one hour postponements this morning writes Bob Bateman.

Race Officer Alan Crosbie went out in a RIB to inspect the course area. Fog and mist early on gave way to only a zephyr of breeze leaving no option but to scrub the two scheduled races. 

The cancellation means Kinsale's Cameron Good takes the championship title as per's report here.

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After four races at the 2017 Dragon South Coast Championship, locals Cameron Good, Henry Kingston and Simon Furney have the overall lead from Royal St. George's David Williams and Peter Bowring writes Bob Bateman.

See results and photo gallery below.

The Dublin Bay boat has the same eight points as the Kinsale Yacht Club leader but double wins today gives Good the advantage in the nine–boat fleet.

Kinsale boat Shawn Kingston's Grey Hare is third and another Kinsale entry, Adrian Bendon's Mar J is fourth.

This morning's racing schedule was put forward to 11am due to a wet windy forecast but it turned out to be light winds on the way out to the first start at the Old Head of Kinsale. Winds were not long in filling in, however, and 15 /18 knots from west–south–west and a lumpy sea produced classic Kinsale conditions.

Williams' Phantom led at the first windward mark but a gybe set from Good proved to be winning move as got into the lead and held on til the finish. 

Racing continues tomorrow. The Race Officer is Kinsale's own Alan Crosbie.

Dragon South Coast Championship after four races

1 IRL211 Little Fella Cameron Good Henry Kingston Simon Furney KYC 8 4 2 1 1
2 IRL176 Phantom David Williams Peter Bowring/Hilary Murray Arthur Mehigan/Conor Grimley RStGYC 8 3 1 2 2
3 IRL188 Grey Hare Shawn Kingston Tony Kingston Harry Lewis KYC 15 2 5 4 4
4 IRL156 Mar J Adrian Bendon Choryna Kiely Matthew Beecher KYC 18 1 3 7 7
5 IRL201 Jaguar Martin Byrne Conor Byrne Adam Winkelman RStGYC 20 5 9 3 3
6 IRL695 Magic Warren Brown/Kevin Hayes Killian Murphy Clare Hayes/Eamonn Timoney GHYC 22 6 6 5 5
7 IRL180 Serafina Maeve Cotter Daniel Murphy Brian Goggin KYC 24 8 4 6 6
8 IRL110 Aphrodite Peter Hayes Tiernan Brown Killian Forde/Ruairi Brown GHYC 31 7 8 8 8
9 IRL157 Tenacious Anthony O'Neill Dave Horgan Eoghan O'Neill KYC 36 9 7 10 10


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Martin Byrne's Jaguar Sailing Team were fifth in the final race of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup in Cowes today. Together with a first place scored yesterday this lifted the sole Irish entry to fifth place overall.

'Given that our target was a podium finish we are somewhat disappointed with this overall result', Byrne told

However, Byrne, sailing wih son Conor and pro sailor Pedro Andrades recognise this year's Edinburgh Cup was the toughest of the four he has competed in to date and, he says, the strength of the international opposition was easily the toughest challenge he has faced.

By his own admission, Byrne says the 'vagaries of sailing in the Solent was our undoing on day two when we had two poor results. Also a technical problem with a brand new mainsail on day one, didn't help our cause either.'

Nevertheless, Byrne finished strongly with a first & fifth in the final races. And together with this, his win in the pre-event British South Coast Championships, made for what he is calling a 'reasonably successful week'.

conor byrne Pedro andradesConor Byrne and Pedro Andrades aboard Irish Dragon Jaguar in Cowes

Byrne paid tribute to his crew. Conor and Pedro's fitness and strength, together with their team work and tactical awareness, brought us back up towards the front of the fleet at the finish. He also paid tribute to his wife Triona who made logistics and life ashore much easier for the team.

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The penultimate day of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup 2017, produced one truly extraordinary race which shook the leader board up and leaves four boats in close contention going into the final race. Ireland's Martin Byrne from the Royal St. George Yacht Club of Dun Laoghaire has moved back up the leaderboard in the 38–boat fleet to seventh overall after a well–earned victory in race five. Download overall results below.

As they set off for the race area, the competitors found that the forecast north-westerly was instead an extremely shifty south-easterly of around 10-12 knots. Even seasoned locals famed for their ability to read the Solent's vagaries with ease have found themselves struggling to make sense of the apparently random shifts this week and today was no different. Recently crowned Dragon World Champion and Solent local Andy Beadsworth summed the situation up with a wry smile saying, "It's a little bit harder to win here that it was [at the Worlds] in Cascais! It's home waters and I thought I knew what was going on in the Solent, so I thought I knew how to go the right way, but we're getting it wrong with monotonous regularity."

 Beadsworth, sailing TUR1212 Provezza Dragon with Simon Fry and Ali Tezdiker, had had a disastrous race four and went into the day in fourth place on 31 points. Ahead of him were Igor Goikhberg in RUS98 Murka with Dmitry Berezkin and Roman Sadchikov in third on 26 points, Poul Richard Hoj-Jenson in GBR813 Danish Blue with Paul Blowers and Hamish McKay on 21 points and Martin Payne in GBR585 Full Speed with Gillian Hamilton and Chris Britten leading on 16 points.

With seconds to go, Beadsworth shot clear of the pack, which was holding back for fear of being pushed over the line by the tide, midline and was able to tack onto port and port tack most of the right side of the fleet. It was almost impossible to keep up with who was leading, as the big shifts pushed boats down snakes and up ladders constantly. At one point Payne looked good on the left, but he ended up virtually last around the weather mark. Meanwhile, Martin Byrne and his team of Pedro Andrade and Conor Byrne in IRL216 Jaguar had done the best job of picking their way through the minefield to lead Graham Bailey, sailing GBR782 Aimee with Julia Bailey, Will Heritage and Will Bedford, off down the first run, with Goikhberg a very close third. Beadsworth and Hoj-Jensen both rounded just inside the top ten.

From here on in Byrne kept clear air and extended his lead, but Bailey had his work cut out to keep the pack at bay as Beadsworth and Hoj-Jensen dug deep to fight their way to the front. As the boats closed the line at the end of the third and final beat, Byrne took a comfortable victory from Bailey with Tom Vernon in GBR810 Badger crewed by Oliver Spensley-Corfield and Adam Bowers third. Beadsworth had made his way up to fourth, Dmitry Bondarenko in Hauschreckeand with Vadim Statsenko and Alexander Shalagin was fifth, Hoj-Jensen sixth and Goikhberg seventh, but Payne unable to do better than 20th, which he immediately discarded.

So the showdown in tomorrow's remaining race is going to be a humdinger. Bailey tops the leader board with 12 points, Hoj-Jensen is on 14, Beadsworth 15 and Payne 16. The forecast for that final race is 12 gusting 20 knots from the north-west, but we're beginning to learn that what is forecast and what we get are not necessarily related this week so stand by and watch this space.

After sailing the crews once again repaired to the Island Sailing Club's terrace where the daily prize giving included the presentation of the Crews Race Trophy, which went to Nigel Cole sailing Avalanche, and the Youngest Sailor Trophy which went to Will Heritage of Aimee. The prize giving was followed by the final special raffle draw of the event. Over £30,000 of prizes have been given away in the draw, for which all boats are eligible, and the top prize of a Petticrows Dragon radio model yacht was drawn tonight. One of the rules of the draw is that if the winning person is not present to collect their prize then they miss their turn and another ticket is drawn. Tim Tavinor of Petticrows assisted Regatta Chairman Gavia Wilkinson-Cox by drawing the winning ticket, but the name read out elicited no response and so Tim went in for a second ticket. As he read out the name Furious a huge cheer went up and owner Owen Pay was for once completely lost for words and clearly absolutely delighted with his new toy.

Today's final race is programmed to get underway at 11.00 and the regatta will conclude with the Edinburgh Cup 2017 Prize Giving Dinner Dance at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.

Published in Dragon

What a difference a day makes! After the opening day's torrential rain and strong winds, day two of the Dragon Edinburgh Cup 2017, hosted by the Island Sailing Club, Cowes, produced light airs, brightening skies and a complete reversal of fortune for a number of the competitors. Ireland's only entry at the Cup sits in tenth place in the 38–boat fleet after Royal St. George's Martin Byrne, Conor Byrne and Pedro Andrade scored a 9 and 15 yesterday. Download full results after four races below.

By the time Race Officer Gill Smith had the fleet under starters order for the third race of the series, the wind was predominantly circa 10–knots but with gusts up to around 17, lulls down to 6 and big shifts around a mean of nor-nor-east. The wind continued to fluctuate throughout the day and there was the added bonus of an exceptionally big spring tide turning between races, so the committee did particularly well to achieve two excellent courses.

Dmitry Bondarenko's regatta had got off to a lousy start when he hit is head so badly on the boom that he had to withdraw from both of yesterday's races and return ashore for treatment. With a neat line of stitches in his forehead and a smart new Slam crash helmet, Dmitry and his crew of Vadim Statsenko and Alexander Shalagin, perhaps better known as the European World Championship winning crew of Anatoly Loginov, sailing GBR422 Hauschrecke, proved that you don't need local knowledge to sail well in the Solent by winning both races. Sadly, their double DNS from day one means that they only make 20th in the overall standings.

Going into the day Andy Beadsworth, Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen and Martin Payne were in a three way tie for the lead on six points apiece. All three are world class sailors, but on paper Beadsworth, as recently crowned Dragon World Champion, should have had the upper hand. But even the best in the world can have an off day and that was certainly the case for Beadsworth today.

In race three, Solent racing legend Eric Williams, aboard GBR683 Ecstatic with Katie Cole and Rory Patton, led the fleet at the weather mark, with Bondarenko, Graham Bailey sailing GBR782 Aimee with Julia Bailey, Will Heritage and Will Bedford, and Igor Goikhberg sailing RUS98 Murka with Dmitry Berezkin and Roman Sadchikov, hard on his heels. This group fought it out for the remainder of the race with Bondarenko eventually gaining the upper hand from Bailey, Goikhberg and then Williams who all crossed the line within thirty seconds. Beadsworth, and his worlds winning crew of Simon Fry and Ali Tezdiker in TUR1212 Provezza Dragon, followed the leaders in on the front of edge the chasing pack for fifth.

As the boats hardened up to cross the start line for race four, Beadsworth looked terrific at the committee boat end, almost a boat length ahead of his nearest rival. Sadly, a big right-hander, which only seemed to affect the left side of the line in the closing minute of the sequence, meant that those who'd started at the pin made huge gains immediately and there was absolutely nothing those on the right could do about it. 

Gaining most at the pin end was Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, sailing GBR761 Jerboa with Mark Hart and Andrew Nordon, closely followed by Rob Gray, Kay Tavinor and John Greenwood in GBR448 Tarka II and Williams. All three flipped rapidly onto port, crossed the fleet and rounded the weather mark first, second and third respectively. Behind them Beadsworth turned onto the first run around 12th and gybed off in an attempt to get back in the game. Sadly, that attempt did not work and by the leeward mark he was well down the fleet and struggling to gain any traction. Bondarenko won the race with Hoj-Jensen second, Wilkinson-Cox third, Martin Payne, sailing GBR585 Full Speed with Gillian Hamilton and Chris Britton, fourth and Jono Brown in GBR770 Storm crewed by David and Lynette Brown and Frances Wood fifth. Back down the pack Beadsworth was trying it all, but evrything just seemed to end in disaster and he finished the race in 20th place.

In the overall standings, the single discard will not come into play until after tomorrow's fifth race has been completed. As a result, Payne now leads the fleet by five points from Hoj-Jensen with Goikhberg third and Beadsworth fifth. But Payne is realistic and knows that had the discard come into play today Hoj-Jensen would actually be leading the regatta with Beadworth second and himself third. Payne summed up the complexity of today's sailing perfectly saying, "It's like a chess game, you have to think three or four moves ahead, and even then it could still be wrong. It's going to be a tough regatta."

Mike Budd was runner up at the 2016 Edinburgh Cup and with his crew of Mark Greaves and Irish Olympian Mark Mansfield from Royal Cork came into the regatta with high hopes. With four of the six scheduled races now complete he lies in a somewhat disappointing ninth place. Asked what he feels is different about this year's event he commented, "We're not doing as well as we'd hoped, to be honest, because the standard is so good. It's a really hot fleet, we're really enjoying the racing."

Apres sail, the teams repaired to the Island Sailing Club terrace to enjoy the Edinburgh Cup Drink of the Day, a delicious Hendricks Gin & Fever Tree Tonic served with a slice of cucumber, and the company of good friends in the sunshine. Once again the daily prize giving was followed by a special draw with yet more happy Dragon sailors going home with fabulous goodies. 

Tomorrow's forecast is for a west-nor-westerly breeze that will clock round to the north-west during the morning at 14 gusting 22 knots. Championship race five is due to start at 11.00 and will be followed by the traditional Edinburgh Cup crews race. A total of six championship races are scheduled and the regatta continues until Friday 15 July.

Top ten after four races:

  1. Full Speed, Martin Payne Gillian Hamilton, Chris Bittain, GBR
    2. Danish Blue, Poul Richard Hoj-Jensen, Hamish McKay, Paul Blowers, GBR
    3. Murka, Igor Goikhberg, Dmitry Berezkin, Roman Sadchikov, RUS
    4. Provezza Dragon, Andy Beadsworth, Simon Fry, Ali Tezdiker, TUR
    5. Badger, Tom Vernon, Oliver Spensley-Corfield, Adam Bowers, GBR
    6. Ecstatic, James Eric Williams, Rory Paton, Katie Cole, GBR
    7. C Aimee, Graham Bailey, Julia Bailey, Will Heritage, Will Bedford, GBR
    8. Harry, Mike Budd, Mark Greaves, Mark Mansfield, GBR
    9. Jerboa, Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, Mark Hart, Andrew Norden, GBR
    10. Jaguar Martin Byrne Connor, Byrne, Pedro Andrade, IRL
Published in Dragon
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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