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Dragon worlds come to Dun Laoghaire

19th April 2007
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Tokyo Olympians Eddie Kelliher and Harry Maguire's presence at the Royal St. George YC on Tuesday was a link not only to Dun Laoghaire's long tradition in the Dragon keelboat but a reminder that until 1972 this three man keelboat was also an Olympic class.

The staging of the Aberdeen asset management Dragon world championships on Dublin bay represents far more than a trip down memory lane, however. Irish team members have the chance – for the first time – to compete for world honours on home waters this September.

Andrew Craig's fourth overall at the 2003 world championships in Tasmania remains Ireland's best ever performance of recent times but there is a strong line of significant results going back 20 years celebrating Edinburgh Cup wins by Cork's Conor Doyle and Tony O'Gorman.

And performances in the past two seasons, chiefly by Dublin boats, promise a strong performance by the local fleet in six months time.

Current Irish Champion and former European silver-medallist Andrew Craig of the host club will head the 16-boat Irish challenge. His club mate John Ross-Murphy won the Douarnenez Grand Prix in 2005. And in 2006 Don O'Donoghue was the Regattes Royales winner, again in France, in one of the largest ever gatherings of the class with 105–boats.
 
A fleet of around 70–boats will contest the eight-race series on the bay which include multiple Olympic Gold medallist and former World champion Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen, defending champion Jorgen Schonherr, European Champion Lars Hendriksen (all Denmark).

Former Gold Cup winner Tommy Mueller (Germany) who won the Irish open title last year. More recently a Russian team who have been showing very strongly in recent international events make up the 15–nation event.

In it's annual yearbook published last week Dublin Bay sailing Club devotes the inside back cover to acknowledge the pioneering spirit of rival race organiser Royal Alfred YC. DBSC commodore Tim Costello advises that there will be no club racing on Saturday June 16th so as to allow all who sail on the bay join in 'sesquincentennial' celebrations.

Squeezing any fixture into this year's Dublin Bay season and expecting a good turnout is going to be tricky. Volvo Dun Laoghaire week, with entries already received for 136 boats and expected to top 500, inevitably taking pride of place in July.  

Dublin Bay Sailing club commodore Tim Costello reflects in a thought provoking foreword to this year's Dublin Port sponsored annual published last week, there must be appropriate time set aside to celebrate what is not only Ireland's but one of yachting's oldest institutions.

Costello is pushing against an open door. There are many who salute the work of the RAYC over the past 150 years even if its role as principal racing club has been passed to DBSC that now caters for up to 350 boats and 1500 crew each week.

Costello admits that even the Dublin Bay sailing Club structure, the biggest in the country, is feeling the strain.

The club relies heavily on volunteers, and a team of 40 people are required to keep it going each week.

But it's not just the race organisers that are in need of extra help.

The bay fleet has increased in numbers but the boats have increased in size and technology too. New fleets such as the Beneteau 31.7 and newer still the JI09 have crew requirements between 8 to 10 people. Is it any surprise that, by some estimates, up to 90 per cent of bay cruisers regularly race with less than a full crew complement?

The fact that fewer crew are required in the white sail cruisers division, now numbering 27 and the largest in the bay, is one of the reasons behind this fleets success over the past three seasons.

In other news, Just nine months after joining the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) as its racing manager Sean Craig is quitting the post following an offer to return to work in the financial sector.

All four provinces represented are represented tomorrow (Saturday, April 21) at the National Schools Team Racing Championship in the Royal St George Yacht Club. The event will be held in 12–foot Firefly dinghies.

This morning (Friday April 20th) Beneteau, among other makes, is showing its new 34.7 model at a three day on the water display of new models at Malahide marina. Three marine companies, albeit it with mainly a motorboat focus, are staging a start of season demonstration of new boats.

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