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The International Dragon Class and Kinsale seem to have been made for each other. When the Dragon Gold Cup is staged at the glossy south coast port next September, there will undoubtedly be a natural harmony to the event. With both, there’s that proper sense of history kept in perspective, yet invoked when necessary to give an extra meaning to a place and a boat which, in 2020, are discreetly but definitely about the good things in life.

For sure, in places like Glandore further west you can keep a vintage wooden Dragon thanks to the can-do enthusiasm of many of the local class, and the proximity of the master craftsmen classic boat builders of West Cork, one of whom - Rui Ferreira of Ballydehob – will himself be racing his own golden oldie timber Dragon next year. All that will be in the midst of creating some of the finest Dublin Bay Water Wags ever seen, and keeping the Ette Class clinker dinghies of Castletownshend in prime sailing condition for their brief but busy racing season at the height of the summer.

rui ferreira2Boatbuilder Rui Ferreira of Ballydehob with the Dublin Bay Water Wag which he built for Dragon champion Martin Byrne. Photo: Ian Malcolm
But in Kinsale where the steep and picturesque town crowds about and above the harbour - thereby putting all space at a premium - the mood is different, and fibreglass is dominant in boat construction, while space is money, and the utilization of every square inch is a priority. Thus when noted TV seafood chef Martin Shanahan was trying to shoehorn his award-winning restaurant Fishy-Fishy into a prime site located precisely the right distance from the Kinsale waterfront, he realised that many of the problems he faced were similar to yacht designers trying to optimize confined interior spaces.

So he called on the talents of locally-based designer Rob Jacob (a renowned sailor, including much experience with Dragons) whose partnership Jacob Lynch Small may have started by specialising in superyacht interiors for an international clientele, but now they’re into prestigious design work of all kinds. Thus Rob was able to make an inspired and nautical input into some of the planning of Fishy-Fishy, a natural and neighbourly aspect to the Kinsale way of life.

But then, Kinsale today is a sailing and maritime universe, stylishly coping with most aspects of sailing from cruising through top end racing - which enthusiastically includes the national and international Sailability initiative - right on to junior beginners in the energetic Optimist programme, with the shape of the natural harbour and its relationship with the town ensuring that the interaction between sea and land is always dynamic.

kinsale aerial3 Kinsale today exudes prosperity, but when it was abandoned as the main naval port in 1805, it became something of a ghost town

Yet as anyone who knew Kinsale before it began building its current prosperous presence as Ireland’s premier hospitality port, time was when its image was different. Once upon a time, Kinsale was the British Navy’s main south coast port. But as the ships became larger, a new base had to be established with room for development, and in 1805 the move came to Cork Harbour itself.

The miniature port the Navy had abandoned back at Kinsale became something of a quaint ghost town, its attractive small scale architecture hinting at a hub of activity in times now well past, and a sense of dereliction was in the air. That mood lasted well into the 20th Century, and though there had been earlier attempts to get local sailing going on a more organised basis, it wasn’t until 1950 that Kinsale Yacht Club was brought into being by some dedicated enthusiasts who were determined to keep their little club going despite the fact that the 1950s were an economically grim decade in Ireland.

It could reasonably be argued that the very existence of the sailing club, with its growing class of blue-sailed Enterprise dinghies, played a key role in having Kinsale – the Sleeping Beauty – ready for awakening as the good times started to roll with the approach of the increasingly prosperous 1960s. In an astonishingly short time-frame, the place was transformed as its full potential was realized, the revival being so much better because most of those involved fully appreciated the remarkable heritage of what they were restoring and re-purposing. 

kinsale yc facade4The historic façade of Kinsale YC makes for a marked contrast with the seaward-facing re-styled rear section which interacts with the club marina
It’s quite an achievement to have a port town which is so healthily imbued with a vigorous sense of the here and now while having a strong and clear sense of the future, and yet it lives comfortably with the evidence of an intriguing past all around and through it.

Doubtless those who were at the heart of it have their own ideas of when the tipping point came to move Kinsale YC into the major league. Some reckon the club’s long association with the Flying Fifteen class – now replaced by the more versatile Squib as KYC’s small keelboat OD – was when the activity became noteworthy. But for the rest of Ireland, it looked as though it was in the early 1960s. That was when the apparently sudden move of the main focus of the south coast Dragon Class took place, from what was then the Royal Munster YC at Crosshaven swiftly along the coast to Kinsale.

dragons cork5The Dragon Class racing from the Royal Munster YC at Crosshaven in 1962. Soon afterwards, the South Coast Dragon focus shifted from Crosshaven to Kinsale. Photo: Tom Barker
There’s something about having an active Dragon class associated with your club that adds a special cachet. They may have been around for 90 years, but somehow the Dragons always seem to be just slightly ahead of their own development curve, for though the hull which is such a delight to sail is still precisely the hull as designed by Norway’s Johan Anker in 1929 for members of the Royal Gothenburg YC just across the border in Sweden, the rig has been up-dated and refined, and the deck, cockpit and “cabin” layout have moved on to be a long way from the two-berth weekend cruiser and club racer originally envisaged.

The class spread quickly in Scandinavia and then beyond. In Britain and Ireland, it first took hold in the mid-1930s in the Firth of Clyde, to such an extent that the Clyde sailors put up the Gold Cup in 1937 for an annual international Dragon competition, its staging to be rotated between Scotland, Norway, France, Sweden, Germany, Holland and Denmark.

It was not until a re-structuring of the competition that Ireland came to be included among the exclusively European countries which might be invited to host the Gold Cup. By that time the Dragon Class had been through the international mill, having become an Olympic Class in 1948, and then losing that status in 1972.

varnished dragon cannes6Although the champion Dragons have all been of fibreglass construction since the late 1980s, lovingly-maintained Borresen-built wooden classics continue to be part of the fleet
For some international classes, that might have been seen as a mortal blow. But many – probably most - Dragon sailors were delighted to be freed of the Olympic straitjacket, and the class widened its appeal to bring in people who were attracted by the level of sport and sociability provided, and the logistical challenges of getting boat and crew to the more distant venues made possible by the rapidly improving quality of road trailers and the continuing development of the European road network.

The Dragon has of course spread globally to become a popular worldwide one design keelboat class, as renowned designer and marine guru Uffa Fox had suggested was possible way back in 1937. But even so, for Dragon sailors in Ireland, the fact of being on an island out in the Atlantic has created a hierarchy of favoured international events. Although the Worlds are often seen as beyond reasonable reach, the Gold Cup can also sometimes be stretching the resources more than somewhat, and so a preferred hunting ground has been for the British Open, the Edinburgh Cup.

That said, the Gold Cup trophy (it really is solid gold) came to the island of Ireland early in its existence, in 1947 when it was raced on the Clyde and won by Eric Strain of Royal North of Ireland YC helming Billy Barnett’s Ceres. The competition itself made its debut in Dublin Bay in 1990, with the winner being Denmark’s legendary Poul Richard Hoj Jensen. He did it again another time in Dublin Bay in 1997 to continue the tradition of the Danes being the most prolific winners, but then in 2012 when the Gold Cup contest made its first visit to Kinsale, the winner was Germany’s Tommy Muller.

Thus Eric Strain’s 1947 win stands alone, even if Irish boats were there or thereabouts in other finals. But two years after Strain’s remarkable win, the Edinburgh Cup was inaugurated, and this fitted neatly with the Irish Dragon Class’s logistical capabilities.

That said, the development of easy-travelling road trailers was still in its infancy, and when the Royal North of Ireland YC at Cultra on Belfast Lough hosted the new trophy for the first time in 1953, Dublin Bay Dragon ace Jimmy Mooney sailed north to compete in A F Buckley’s Ashaka, and sailed home again with the newly-won cup wrapped in a traditional seaman’s jersey under the foredeck.

ashaka sailing7Top Dragon – the Dublin Bay-based Ashaka was sailed from Dun Laoghaire to the Edinburgh Cup at Cultra in Belfast Lough in 1953 by Jimmy Mooney and his crew, and sailed home again with the Cup wrapped in a sailor’s jersey and stowed under the foredeck.

Jimmy Mooney won it again at the same venue in 1958, this time with Nirvana II co-owned by Buckley. But then there was a drought until 1971, when Robin Hennessy of Malahide sailing Joe MacMenamin’s Alphida won at Cultra. Alphida proved to be one of the most successful Irish Dragons, as she was subsequently bought by Conor Doyle to join the thriving Kinsale fleet, and he won the Edinburgh Cup at Royal Forth (Edinburgh) in 1975, and at Abersoch in 1976.

Another Kinsale star, Tony O’Gorman, then took over the running with Galax, and he won the Edinburgh Cup at Cowes in 1978, Cultra in 1980, Abersoch in 1982 and Cowes again in 1984 at a time when the class was at it height in Ireland.

Simon Brien of the Cultra fleet won in 2000 and again in 2012, both times at his home club. But meanwhile Don O’Donoghue, who was instrumental in bringing the Dragons to Glandore, won in 2008 at Plymouth, and then in 2011 another new name comes up in the listings. Martin Byrne who was to become Commodore of the Royal St George YC - he scooped the Edinburgh Cup at Abersoch in 2011 to add to Jaguar’s many successes.

dragons at speed glandore8Dragons at speed off Glandore – Don O’Donoghue of the Glandore fleet won the Edinburgh Cup in 2008

Overall, it is the Kinsale group who have the edge for success down the years, so there’s everything to sail for when the Gold Cup fleet gather in Kinsale next September. But the International Dragon Class is now a numerous and competitive fleet of 1500 actively-raced boats worldwide, and when 160 of them turned up in Sanremo last month for the 90th Anniversary regatta, Ireland did mighty well to see Daniel Murphy and Brian Goggin get a race win, while Laura Dillon – All-Ireland Champion Helm in 1996 – took a win in the classics, and the 89-yeat-old Don Street of Glandore, sailing a boat three years younger then himself, was acclaimed with the Spirit of the Dragon Class Award.

dragon to windward9 A classic timber Dragon in action at the Gold Cup 2019 at Medemblik in the Netherlands, when the winner was Pedro Andrade of Portugal

Thus the International Dragon is if anything more challenging - yet at the same time more rewarding - than ever in its 90 years of sailing. The success seems to be down to a unique combination of a specific boat type attracting a certain kind of person with a healthy attitude to sailing sport. Perhaps we should simply accept that this is the way it is, rather than trying to over-examine what is, in its way, something quite magic.

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The stupendous 90th Anniversary International Dragon Class Regatta at San Remo in Italy has concluded with overall victory going to Jens Christensen of Denmark, crewed by Anders Bagger and Thomas Schmidt.

But the most special celebration at the prize-giving was reserved for 89-year-old Don Street of Glandore in West Cork, whose classic boat Gypsy (IRL 15) was the oldest boat in the regatta at 86 years. The award was as a result of a vote by all the Dragon racers present for the skipper they thought best represented The Spirit of the Dragon Class, and in his acceptance speech Don said:
“I sailed a 1937 boat at the 75th Anniversary Regatta, here I’ve sailed an 86-year-old boat and I’m 89 years old, and I’m aiming to do the 100th Anniversary Regatta too!”

don street sailing2The ever-young Don Street during his deep-sea sailing days with the yawl Iolaire – he is now the holder of the Spirit of the International Dragon Class trophy

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The Irish team are still celebrating on Day three of the Dragon 90th Anniversary Regatta in Sanremo, Italy this week. After opening success from Kinsale team Daniel Murphy and Brian Goggin on Tuesday, Howth Yacht Club's Laura Dillon helming GBR770 ‘Storm’ picked up the first prize in the classic division yesterday. 

The oldest boat racing in the 150-boat fleet is the Glandore based, IRL15 Gypsy which was built in 1933 and the newest is but a few months old. Gypsy also perfectly demonstrates the wide age range of the crews, with her Skipper Don Street being the oldest competitor at 89 years and his crew Kieran O’Donoghue being the youngest at 16.

The Dragon is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful one-design keelboats in the world, and the spectacle of 150 Dragons coming together on a single start line to celebrate the class’s 90th Anniversary was truly a visual delight. For the 150 crews who have flown in from all corners of the globe to compete in the Dragon 90th Anniversary Regatta powered by Paul and Shark, the 90th Anniversary Race was the experience of a lifetime. For race winners Benedikt Gach, Johannes Schmohl and Florian Abele from Germany, it was quite simply a day that exceeded all possible expectation.

The Yacht Club Sanremo’s Race Committee had set a special course with a 3-mile beat to ensure fleet separation prior to the first mark. This was followed by a down-wind leg featuring two reaches and then a run into the finish. The fleet came close to getting underway at the first attempt, but a wind shift in the closing moments of the sequence forcing the committee to hoist the postponement flag and abandon. Within a few minutes, the breeze had stabilised again, and the second attempt was stunningly successful with the huge fleet all hitting the line together.

With a north-easterly breeze of around 12-15 knots Benedikt Gach sailing GER1216 got a good start, hit the left side of the beat and sailed superbly well to head the fleet at the first mark. Jens Rathsack in MON2 ‘Jeanie’ rounded the first mark 100 yards behind him with Ron James helming GBR633 ‘Fei Lin’s-Flirtation’ at the head of the chasing pack. From this point onward the leading three held position and were never seriously challenged, but the battle behind them for fourth place went down to the wire. Ultimately, Frank Berg helming DEN408 ‘Flawless’ took fourth, with Gerard Blanc helming FRA409 ‘Tsuica’ fifth and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox helming GBR761 ‘Jerboa’ sixth. As the rest of the fleet streamed over the line it was all the recorders could do to keep up as they came through thick and fast.

A former Laser sailor, Benedikt Gach is no stranger to big fleet starting but this was his biggest Dragon race by some way. His fortunes on the first day of racing had been mixed, leaving him in the lower half of the fleet, but today Gach and his team made a plan, executed it perfectly and kept their cool, as he explained after racing. “We decided basically to go for the left side and that it was more important for us to go left than get a good start. We had quite a nice spot there with free wind and we got some nice shifts on the left side and it worked out pretty well. Being a lake sailor, I’m not too used to sailing downwind in waves, so we expected that we would lose some of the lead, but amazingly we managed to hold everyone off! We are really enjoying the regatta, it has great organisation, great hospitality and the race organisation is great, so it’s just perfect.”

The fleet assembled truly represents the diversity of the Dragons. The Dragon is sailed in over 40 countries, there are 31 official National Class Associations and 26 of those nations from four continents are represented this week. The oldest boat racing is IRL15 Gypsy which was built in 1933 and the newest is but a few months old. Gypsy also perfectly demonstrates the wide age range of the crews, with her Skipper Don Street being the oldest competitor at 89 years and his crew Kieran O’Donoghue being the youngest at 16. Dragon sailing gets into the blood and it’s no surprise to see many family crews here, with two and even three generations of the same family often racing together. With the option to sail three or four up, mixed, youth and ladies’ crews are common too. The longevity of the Dragon is also extraordinary with the classics (wooden Dragons built before 1972) regularly featuring among the top performers this week.

With the big Anniversary Race completed the fleet was divided for one off races, designed to highlight that diversity and quality. These included races for lady helms, juniors, masters, crews, classics and to decide the Champion of Champions. Results from the special group races can be found at www.dragon90.com.

The Classics race went to Aleksei Zigadlo’s beautiful RUS12 ‘Drug’. First lady was Laura Dillon helming GBR770 ‘Storm’. The first junior was Charlotte Ten Wolde in NED435 ‘Olinghi’. The crew’s race went to Caspar Dohse sailing with his family on GER1151 ‘Puck’ and the first family crew was SUI306 ‘Ozio’ owned by Fabio Trotta. After his third place in the Anniversary Race, Ron James was clearly on a role and also claimed victory in the master’s division.

It says something about the quality of the Dragon Class that the Champion of Champions fleet, for which you needed to be an Olympic, World or Continental Championship medallist from any class or from the Dragon Gold Cup, was the largest of the special fleets with 49 entries. The shifty winds made for a tough race and the leading four boats slugged it out all the way round the course, but on the line current Dragon European Cup Series leader Dmitry Samokin, sailing RUS76 ‘Rocknrolla’, took victory by a narrow margin from multi class dinghy champion Mike Budd in GBR818 ‘Harry’, with Alexander Ezhkov in RUS2 ‘Alisa’ third and Dragon Gold Cup and two time Dragon European Champion Anatoly Loginov sailing RUS27 ‘Annapurna’ fourth.

The crews returned ashore on a natural high and the fun continued into the evening with the spectacular Dragon 90th Anniversary Regatta Gala Dinner, held at the elegant waterside Victory Morgana night club, a superbly preserved example of Italian Rationalism architecture. Alongside the prizes for the days special races there were also a number of special presentations.

The splits for the Gold and Silver fleets have now been decided and tomorrow the fleet will return to series racing. Two Finals races are planned with the scores from the two race qualifying series being carried forward. The regatta will conclude on Friday 11th October.

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Ireland's Daniel Murphy and Brian Goggin head Fleet B after the opening two races of the Dragon 90th Anniversary Regatta in Sanremo, Italy. It's the perfect start for the Kinsale entry who are in Italy as part of a nine-boat Irish team promoting the staging of the Gold Cup at the West Cork yacht club next year.

Day two of the Regatta brought beautiful hot sunshine and racing at last for the 150 strong fleet, who had been held ashore on day one due to strong winds and rough seas. The starts were initially postponed for a little over two hours to allow the wind to build, but by mid-afternoon a delightful 6-7 knots had filled in from the south east quadrant, enabling the Yacht Club Sanremo’s Race Committee to run two excellent qualifying series races.

SerafinaIrish Dragon Serafina has an early lead in Sanremo

Listen in to Daniel Murphy and Brian Goggin talking about their early lead at 1.23 on the timeline of the vid below

and here's another vid below with Irish Dragon star Martin Byrne (centre) interviewing the leaders who talk more generally about the Irish teams in Sanremo plus a look forward to the 2020 Dragon Gold Cup in Kinsale.

The fleet has been split into two groups for the qualifiers, with each group racing on its own dedicated windward-leeward course. The light airs gave the tacticians and trimmers a good work out as they tried to pick the best lanes and constantly change gears to maintain maximum speed. Consistency was hard to find though and by the end of the day four different race winners had been identified.

First blood in Group A went to Anatoly Loginov sailing RUS27 ‘Annapurna’ with Ivan Bradbury’s beautiful wooden classic GBR375 ‘Blue Haze’, built in 1959 by Pedersen and Theusen, second and Philipp Ocker’s GER1135 ‘Birscherl’ third. Race two was won by Charlotte Ten Wolde in NED435 ‘Olinghi’, with Helmut Muller’s GER810 ‘Zille’ second and Joergen Schoenherr in DEN411 ‘African Queen’ third. Overall, however, the most consistent Group A performers were long standing International Dragon circuit supporters Mike & Monique Hayles’ GBR764 ‘Naiad’, and Jeroen Leenen’s UAE58 ‘Desert’, who both ended the day on 14 points. Alexander Ezhkov’s RUS2 ‘Alisa’ lies third with Bradbury fourth.

Charlotte Ten Wolde acknowledges that luck played a part in their second race victory. “The wind was steadier in the second race than the first. We had a pin end start and we just kept sailing until we reached the layline and managed to round first. Downwind we managed to get the shifts and had speed so stayed ahead of everyone else. I wish it worked like that every single time, but I guess we were just lucky!”

In Group B Vasily Senatorov, sailing RUS34 ‘To Be Continued’ won the opening race from Norbert Stadler’s SUI297 ‘Tachiston’ with Brian Goggin’s IRL180 Serafina, helmed by Daniel Murphy, third. The second Group B race was won by Evgenii Braslavets in ITA77 ‘Bunker Prince’ with Goggin and Murphy second and Jens Christensen’s DEN410 ‘Out of Bounce’ third. Overall Goggin and Murphy now lead Group B by two points from Christensen who took fourth in the opener, with Pieter Heerema’s NED412 ‘Troika’ in third thanks to a seventh and fifth place.

Daniel Murphy explained that starting was the key to success. “We had between 6 and 8 knots, reasonably steady but it built out to sea. We had a two and three today so a very good day on the water for us. Starting was everything. We got two very clear good starts right on the line with clear air and got a very nice jump straight away, so the start really was key.”

Back ashore the sailors gathered once again in the Regatta Village for the après sailing party which today was hosted by Glenfiddich. Glenfiddich’s Grant Gordon took the opportunity to make a special presentation to IDA Chairman Vasily Senatorov, the man who has personally been the driving force behind this 90th Anniversary celebration and who stands down as Class Chairman at the IDA AGM this coming Saturday, after two years at the helm. Coming on top of his race one victory, a clearly moved Vasily came to the stage to loud applause to receive his very special Glenfiddich gift.

Dragon 90thDragon racing at the 90th Anniversary Regatta in Sanremo, Italy

The third day of the regatta will feature the special Dragon 90th Anniversary Race in which both fleets will come together for a massed start. A special course has been set for the race which it is hoped will get underway at 11.00. The Anniversary Race will be followed by a series of special races for Lady helms, Classic Dragons, Junior crews, Masters crews and the Champion of Champions. To qualify for the Champions race, helms must be medallists from the Olympics, World and European Championships and World Cups in any class and the Dragon Gold Cup. Series racing will commence again on Thursday 10th October and the regatta will conclude on Friday 11th October.

All around the regatta interesting stories are emerging from the participants. For example, three of the regatta’s lady helms have discovered that they have more in common than they first thought. Long-standing Dragon sailors Gavia Wilkinson-Cox from the UK and Nicola Friesen from Germany were talking with fleet newcomer Anna Basalkina from Russia. Gavia Wilkinson-Cox takes up the story; “We have curiously found a very distant link that connects all of us and it actually goes back to 1972, the last year in which the Dragons sailed in the Olympic Regatta, in Kiel. Personally, I sailed in the British trials which were held in Torquay, my hometown, and subsequently, I was invited to attend the Olympic Regatta with the British Team.” Nicola continued, “I was too young to sail but I was with my father on the race committee for the Dragons at Kiel”. Anna added, “I was born in ‘74 so I had no idea about the Kiel Olympic Games, but I sail now on the 1972 Gold Medal winning boat.” Anna subsequently went on to represent Russia at the 2000 Games in Sydney in the Yngling, making the final link in the chain of this Olympic story.

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Some 160 Dragons from 26 nations – including nine from Ireland – are gathering at the Yacht Club San Remo, Italy, for the International Dragon 90th Anniversary Regatta, which takes place from Monday 7th to Friday 11th October 2019.

Teams from across Europe, Australasia, Asia and North America will come together to compete in five days of spectacular racing and enjoy six nights of fabulous partying.

A strong Irish Dragon Fleet involvement will include Kinsale Yacht Club sailors (Brian Goggin & Daniel Murphy) promoting the Dragon Gold Cup in Kinsale next season in September 2020. They have already arranged for the delivery of free Gold Cup 2020 T-shirts to every competitor and the Irish sailors have been provided with similar Gold Cup 2020 promotion Polos to wear at the event.

The incredible success of the International Dragon is rooted in the fact that it offers something for sailors at every level. From truly world-class competition, via club racing and special events for the classics, to family sailing and cruising, the Dragon’s innate elegance, impeccable sailing characteristics and legendary fleet camaraderie make her the perfect vehicle for all types of sailor. This 90th Anniversary celebration will honour every aspect of that appeal with a wonderful mix of participants from across the nations, generations and interest groups.

Hong Kong sailing legend Lowell Chang summed up the special feeling for the regatta saying, “Racing amongst the family of Dragon sailors Internationally since 1983 has given both my wife Phyllis and myself great joy, not only from sailing competitively (though those days are gone for us now) but from the fact that we became close friends with many fellow sailors from all over the world. I wouldn’t miss the 90th for anything. The class is strong because it is sailed by gentlemen and ladies who value honesty, good manners and sportsmanship above winning, people you want to spend time with. May it always be so.”

The racing programme incorporates a four-day fleet racing series run across two separate race courses, in which the boats will initially be divided into qualifying groups for a round-robin series on Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th October, before Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets race off in the Finals on 10th and 11th October.

Originally, the plan had been to sail the Classic Dragons (wooden Dragons built prior to the early 1970s) as a separate fleet, but one of the great strengths of the Dragon has always been that the boats have incredible longevity, with the older boats more than capable of holding their own against their modern counterparts. By popular demand, it has therefore been agreed that the Classics will race within the main fleet, adding still further to the sense of excitement and inclusiveness.

Top Australian Dragon sailor Richard Franklin admitted he couldn’t resist the lure of the event saying; “I've sailed a Dragon in Sydney for a number of years with the added attraction being the fabulous sailing and competition in Europe. So much so, that I now also maintain a Dragon at Cannes Yacht Club. The spectacle of the 90th Anniversary Regatta was too much to resist. I'm looking forward to a great party that celebrates the wonderful boat we sail .... And also, to some fun on the water.”

Wednesday 9th October will be a very special race day as the fleet takes a break from series racing for some special birthday races, after which the sailors will come together at the stunning art deco waterside Morgana Victory restaurant for the 90th Anniversary Gala Dinner. The first special race will bring together all 160+ entrants on the same starting line for a spectacular one off 90th Anniversary Gala Race. This will be followed by races for Lady Helms, Junior crews (combined crew age of under 100 with the skipper born after 5.6.1986), Masters (combined crew age over 180), Family Crews (all crew members must be related) and a Crews race (crew member must helm). The special races will culminate with a Champion of Champions race in which winners and medallists of Olympic Games, World and European Championships and World Cups in any class and from the Dragon Gold Cup are eligible to participate.

Competing in the Masters, Ladies and Champion of Champions will be Britain’s Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, one of the most successful lady helms on the circuit. Gavia had crewed Dragons since her teens, but only started helming when she became a Dragon owner in 2003. “The Dragon 75th anniversary celebrations in St Tropez in 2004 introduced me to sailing my boat on the international circuit. For the past 15 years I have been enjoying some 16 international regattas a year and it is exciting to now be celebrating 90 years in San Remo, a venue we love.”

The Champion of Champions Race will include some of the biggest stars in sailing. From Australia comes Hamish Pepper, a four time Olympian, double Star World Champion, Farr 40 and Farr 30 World Champion. Fellow Australian Peter Gilmour, an America’s Cup veteran and four-time World Match Racing Tour Champion, will be sailing for Japan with his son Sam and Yasuhiro Yaji, as well as acting as brand ambassador for event sponsor Yanmar.

Jørgen Schönherr is a two-time Flying Dutchman World Champion, a 505 World Champion and in Dragons has won five Gold Cups and the 2005 World Championship and will be flying the flag for Denmark in the competitions.

British Olympian, Etchells World Champion and three-time Dragon World Champion Andy Beadsworth will race with Ali Tezdiker and Simon Fry, with whom he won the Dragon Worlds in Freemantle earlier this year and in Weymouth in 2017.

Russia is putting forward a strong team for the regatta and among their Champion of Champions entries are Yevgen Braslavetz, who won both the World and European Dragon Championships in 2015 and who comes fresh from victory at last week’s Regates Royales in Cannes. Dmitry Samokhin, who currently leads the 2019 Dragon European Cup Circuit series, and Anatoly Loginov, who has two Dragon European Championship and one Gold Cup win to his name, will also be hoping to claim Champion of Champions victory for Russia.

Leading the Portuguese challenge is Pedro Andrade, a Dragon sailor of twenty years standing with many victories to his name including the 2017 European Championship and this year’s Dragon Gold Cup in Medemblik. Pedro will be crewing for Pedro Mendes Leal in the series racing but will take the helm for the Champion of Champions race. Looking forward to the event he summed up the sailors’ feelings succinctly, saying “I am excited to be going to San Remo to celebrate this fantastic anniversary with so many sailors. I think one of the main attractions is that the sailors that are coming are not so focused on sailing results, but want simply to be part of this amazing gathering and to enjoy this unique party to celebrate our class. It will be a great gathering and will really show the spirit of the class.”

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Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team with Adam Winkelmann and Mark Pettit from Dublin Bay are lying seventh overall after day two in a 43-boat fleet of Dragons from 14 countries at the annual Régates Royale in Cannes.

After two days racing in a mixture of very light and very heavy breezes, the Royal St George team have scored 13, 5, 15 & 2 in the four races sailed. They are the only Irish team competing at this event ahead of the Dragon 90th Anniversary Regatta in San Remo in two weeks time where the entry stands at 163 Dragons so far with nine Irish boats among the number.

Byrne commented that he was pleased with the team’s heavy air performance when they returned a 5th & 2nd at the front of a very professional fleet with multiple world champions and Olympic medalists competing as usual.

“Starting well is a huge challenge when the lines are biased as they have been in the very shifty conditions but our top five results so far have been as a result of very good starts in the heavier breezes. In the lighter airs we have been struggling for speed against the very best professional teams so there is room for improvement there”.

The event continues until Friday with another six races scheduled.

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Nine Irish Dragons for the 90th Anniversary Regatta at San Remo, Italy from 7th to 11th October will be led by top International performer Martin Byrne of the Royal St. George Yacht Club who was runner-up at this year's Edinburgh Cup in Wales.  

The travelling Irish contingent includes veteran Don Street from West Cork and the Royal St. George YC commodore Peter Bowring in Phantom. The full entry list is here.

The Irish boats will be part of a 160 International Dragon keelboats will gather in San Remo to mark the 90th Anniversary of this illustrious and extraordinary class. Dragon sailors past and present, friends of the class and the media are invited to participate in this week-long celebration of all things Dragon.

From her inception as an entry by Johan Anker in the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club's 1928 competition for a new inter-islands cruiser for young people, to her current status as the world's leading three-man keelboat class, the story of the Dragon has been remarkable.

The legendary Uffa Fox recognised the class's great potential when, in 1937 he wrote "The Dragons have the qualities sought for in one-design classes. They will continue and prosper." And prosper the Dragon most certainly has with almost 1500 boats registered and racing in 31 National Associations across five continents today, and as many again cruising Dragons still bringing pleasure to leisure sailors around the world.

The Dragon's story has included selection for six Olympic Games from 1948 to 1972 and the active participation of many of the world's greatest sailors, as well as members of the Royal families of Britain, Greece, the Netherlands and Denmark. She made a successful transition from wooden construction to GRP in the early 1970s as part of her constant programme of carefully managed evolution, and with her elegant metre boat lines the Dragon is widely considered to be the most beautiful of the International One Design keelboats, as well as one of the most successful.

The 90th Anniversary Regatta will bring together sailors from 25 countries and four continents in a gala celebration hosted by the Yacht Club San Remo on Italy's Ligurian Riviera. The racing will encompass not only a 90th Anniversary Regatta series, which will run from Monday 7th to Friday 11th October and begins with round robin races to decide gold, silver and bronze fleets, but will also feature a number of special races to be sailed on Wednesday 9th October.

The first of those special races will be the 90th Anniversary Gala Race in which all 160 boats will come together for a spectacular one-off race. This will be followed by special races for Masters, Juniors, Family Crews, Ladies and the Champion of Champions, which is open to medallists of Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships and World Cups in any class and the Dragon Gold Cup.

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Martin Byrne’s Dragon Jaguar Sailing Team of Adam Winkelmann and Pedro Andrade of the Royal St. George Yacht Club finished second overall and top Irish boat after six races sailed at the Cup in Abersoch, North Wales yesterday.

As Afloat reported earlier, The Royal St. George trio came from fifth overall on the final day to be on the podium and within five-points of winners Mike Budd, Mark Greaves and Adam Bowers in the 33-boat fleet.

The Irish Phantom team led by Peter Bowring, Commodore of the Royal St George Yacht Club finished eighth overall. 

Two full races completed a series that was scheduled to run until Friday but a weather forecast prompted the race team to adjust the schedule to complete all races one day early.

Full results are here. There is patchy coverage from Abersoch on the British Dragon Association website here and its Facebook page here

Day 3 report here
An overnight change in the weather forecast pre-empted an adjustment to the sailing schedule for the 33 Dragons and over 100 sailors.

With very heavy weather and strong winds predicted for Friday it was confirmed that the crew’s race would be abandoned, and two races would be run to finish the championship.
A strengthening 10-15 knot SW breeze and rollers were present for the start of race five along with a lot of ebb tide. A general recall under flag U led to a black flag start that saw four boats over the line and another recall.

Start three was successful and 29 Dragons sailed up the bay with Martin Byrne’s Jaguar, Mike Budd’s Harry, Paddy Atkinson’s Seafire, Mike Breivik’s Mars and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox’s Jerboa leading into the windward mark.

Fast sailing downwind resulted in Martin Payne’s Bear and Rob Campbell’s Quicksilver VI pulling back up to the leaders over taking Jerboa and Mars.

After a final 2nm beat the course was shortened to finish at the final downwind gate with Jaguar and Harry finishing seconds apart followed by Bear and Quicksilver VI.

Race six and the final race to count started with a general recall, but an all clear second start saw the fleet split with Graham Bailey’s Aimee and Bear taking the pin-end and a left-hand lane up the beat. Aimee held out longer on the left and this paid hugely for them coming out at the windward mark in the top six. Joining them at the mark was current leaders, Harry along with Mars, Avalanche, Tim Pearson’s ZU and Patrick Lomax’s Good Grief.

A packed windward spreader resulted in many Dragons gybing off to get away from the tide. Holding on to the lead and taking an inner lane downwind was Harry followed by Aimee, Avalanche, David William’s Phantom, Richard Leask’s Kestra and ZU.

Going into the gate and taking the right-hand mark Mike Budd was having some serious issues with his genoa halyard and it looked like the end of his race! Avalanche tacked off to clear their air behind Harry and sailed out towards the right and the shoreline along with Harryot.

The majority of the fleet chose the right taking the land breeze close to SCYC that saw Jaguar and Seafire pull ahead. A long run down to the final leeward gate had Harry, Seafire, Aimee and Jaguar in the leading pack followed by a fast running Bear.

The four top boats ran to the right and middle for a very close finish. Martin Payne spotted another breeze on the left coming from the island with more tide so chose the last of the ebb tide to take him to the finish right behind Seafire.

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Martin Byrne’s reassembled 2011 Edinburgh Cup-winning Dragon Jaguar Sailing Team with Adam Winkelmann and Pedro Andrade onboard are fifth overall and top Irish boat after four races sailed at the Cup in Abersoch, North Wales. The Royal St. George trio scored a win in the second race and are seven points off the overall lead in the 33-boat fleet.

The Irish Phantom team led by Peter Bowring, Commodore of the Royal St George Yacht Club are seventh overall. They are regular visitors to Abersoch and have won the British Northern Championships there on a number of occasions. They last attended the Edinburgh Cup there in 2015 where they finished 5th overall while winning the final two races.

Tim Pearson sailing ZU with Conor Grimley and John Bolger are lying 12th.

Denis Bergin from the Royal Irish Yacht Club with Sir Ossis of the River is competing again at an Edinburgh Cup for the first time in over a decade.  But he returns with a very experienced & successful father & son team of Con & Ronan Murphy and is 18th from 33. 

Now in its 71st year the Edinburgh Cup remains a championship with a great deal of history. It has always been difficult to win and is revered by those who have won many other competitions and events.

Full results here

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Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team used today's UK Dragon Northern Championship event as a warm-up to the Dragon Edinburgh Cup which starts tomorrow at the same venue of South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club in Abersoch, North Wales. The Irish trio missed the first race on Sunday while waiting ashore for some racing wind and began the event with a DNC. However, they made up for this with a second & first in races two & three to lie 10th overall overnight.

Today’s racing, in light breezes again suited the Royal St George Yacht Club team, when they won race 4 to lead overall going into the final two races.

Mike Budd from Abersoch sailing Harry and Graham Bailey from Cowes sailing Aimee were their closest rivals going into races 5 & 6. But all three teams had poor results in race 5 but Byrne was under most pressure having to try and discard his DNC from race 1.

Byrne dragonAdam Winkelmann, Martin Byrne and Pedro Andrade at the Northern Area Championships

Byrne was still leading by 1 point going into the final race. But to win overall they had to be just one place behind Mike Budd and keep him out of 1st place. But in an immensely competitive last race in a dying shifty breeze, Mike Budd did win the final race and Byrne was forced to take some “flyers” to remain in touch eventually crossing the line in 5th.

Byrne is sailing with his 2011 Edinburgh Cup-winning team Adam Winkelmann and Pedro Andrade and are clearly competitive in this fleet of 35 Dragons.

Three more Dublin Bay Dragon teams join the Edinburgh Cup racing tomorrow including, Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta winner Denis Bergin’s, Sir Ossis of the River, from RIYC and Tim Pearson’s Zu from RSGYC and finally National Champions Peter Bowring & David Williams in Phantom from RSGYC.

Results are here

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About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

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Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

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