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Lawrie Smith Returns to Kinsale for Irish Dragon Keelboat Champs

27th June 2014
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Former Irish Dragon champion Martin Byrne of the Royal St. George with Adam Winkelmann and Maurice O'Connell in yesterday's first race of the Irish Dragon Championships off Kinsale. Photo: Bob Bateman. Scroll down for more photos below.
Lawrie Smith Returns to Kinsale for Irish Dragon Keelboat Champs

#dragons – On driving to Kinsale yesterday to photograph the 2014 Irish Dragon Nationals it was a miserable outlook with the rain thundering down in quantities not experienced for some months writes Claire Bateman. Even while waiting around in Kinsale the rain was still incessant. However, some thirty minutes later it was as if a miracle had occurred, the rain ceased, the clouds disappeared and the sun shone gloriously. The wind filled in from a different direction going from south easterly of some 15 knots with a lumpy sea to west/south west 12 knots.

With the marks re-laid on the windward/leeward course Race Officer Alan Crosbie got the race underway for the twenty one boat fleet of which ten are Irish and the remainder of the fleet are visitors from outside the country.

In Race two leading the fleet was Neil Hegarty, David Williams and Peter Bowring from the RStGYC sailing Phantom and, trying to make amends for a poor 15th in the first race, did just that by taking the winning gun. From the Kinsale team, a consistent result in both races was achieved by Cameron Good, Simon Furney and Henry Kingston sailing 'Little Fella'. They had a second in the first race and third in the second race. This result has now placed them at the top of the leader board. Following 'Little Fella' and second on the leader board is the wily fox from the RStGYC, Andrew Craig, sailing with Brian Mathews and Mark Pettit counting a first and a sixth.

The fleet is very strong and includes two former Olympians Robin Hennessy. who sailed in the 1972 Olympics in Kiel, sailing Aphrodite with John Wolfe and John O"Connor, sailing under the burgee of the Royal Palma Yacht Club. Making a welcome return to Kinsale is the second Olympian and Round the World Sailor Lawrie Smith with Adam Bowers and Jack Wilson.

The seven race series will continue until Sunday.

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The Dragon was designed by Johan Anker in 1929 as an entry for a competition run by the Royal Yacht Club of Gothenburg, to find a small keel-boat that could be used for simple weekend cruising among the islands and fjords of the Scandinavian seaboard. The original design had two berths and was ideally suited for cruising in his home waters of Norway. The boat quickly attracted owners and within ten years it had spread all over Europe.

The Dragon's long keel and elegant metre-boat lines remain unchanged, but today Dragons are constructed using the latest technology to make the boat durable and easy to maintain. GRP is the most popular material, but both new and old wooden boats regularly win major competitions while looking as beautiful as any craft afloat. Exotic materials are banned throughout the boat, and strict rules are applied to all areas of construction to avoid sacrificing value for a fractional increase in speed.

The key to the Dragon's enduring appeal lies in the careful development of its rig. Its well-balanced sail plan makes boat handling easy for lightweights, while a controlled process of development has produced one of the most flexible and controllable rigs of any racing boat.

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