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It's been a successful winter series for the Royal St. George Yacht Club Dragon Jaguar Sailing Team in France and Italy.

The keelboat trio of Martin Byrne, Adam Winkelmann and John Simms compete in the final weekend of the winter at the Commodore's Cup in Cannes, France.

After six events, they managed three podium results against world-class competition, but they are still a Corinthian Team competing amongst a powerful professional fleet.

Nevertheless, their progress this winter lists this Irish Dragon team as the top Corinthian team competing on the European circuit in very close competition with Swedish, Dutch and Danish teams.

Irish Dragon interests are honing their skills this season in anticipation of the class's Gold Cup being staged in Ireland in Kinsale in 2024. 

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Torquay’s association with the International Dragon Class is long and illustrious, with the venue hosting the 1948 Olympic Games, at which the Dragon featured, and many national and international events since. The Dragon fleet will return once again to this popular venue in 2023 for the Dragon Gold Cup, which takes place from 7 to 16 September and will attract a strong fleet from around the globe.

In 2024, the Dragon Gold Cup is coming to Ireland and will be staged at Kinsale in County Cork.

Located on the English Riviera, Torquay enjoys a wonderful climate, while Tor Bay provides an open sea race area just a short sail from the club, with the spectacular Devon hills as a backdrop. Hosting the event in association with the International and British Dragon Association will be the Royal Torbay Yacht Club, which was founded in 1863 and has huge experience in organising international championships. The boats will be launched and berthed in the harbour just below the club’s elegant clubhouse, which features stunning views across the bay, an excellent restaurant and bar and an English-terraced garden with perfect sunset views.

The Dragon fleet will return once again to Torbay in 2023 for the Dragon Gold CupThe Dragon fleet will return once again to Torbay in 2023 for the Dragon Gold Cup

Registration and measurement will take place on 7 and 8 September, there will be a practice race and Opening Ceremony on 9 September, Championship races are scheduled from 10 to 15 September, with the Prize Giving Ceremony on 15 September and crane out on 16 September. There will also be daily après sailing social events at the clubhouse.

“The Royal Torbay Yacht Club has long been a popular host of Dragon championships, so we’re excited to return there for the Gold Cup, our premier Europe-based event of 2023. With the UK also hosting the Edinburgh Cup, incorporating the British Dragon Grand Prix, from 15 to 18 August in Cowes, a large Dragon fleet is expected for Cowes Week from 29 July to 4 August and the opportunity to nip over to Kinsale to take part in the Irish Open Championship from 24 to 27 August, there’s plenty to make the trip across the English Channel worthwhile for European visitors,” commented IDA Chairman Gerard Blanc.

On behalf of the Royal Torbay YC, Commodore Phil Rumbelow said, “All at the club are delighted to welcome the Dragon Class back to the bay. Our band of experienced event helpers led by our Principal Race Officer, Stuart Childerly, are looking forward to giving the class an excellent championship on the water and our bar and catering teams will ensure they are well fed and watered on their return to shore.”

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The Irish Jaguar Dragon team from the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour took third overall at last weekend's Coupe de l'Amitié in France. 

The keelboat trio of Martin Byrne, John Simms and Adam Winkelmann were in the hunt for an overall win at the Yacht Club de Cannes, but a difficult last day with some shifty and variable wind conditions saw them drop to third in the 19-boat fleet.

Nevertheless, it's still an impressive scoresheet (including an opening race win), given the pro teams from Sweden, Finland and Denmark competing.

Overall winners of the four-race regatta were Sweden's Jesper Stalheim, Leif and Jens Moller. 

As well as Jaguar, two other Irish boats competed as the build-up to the Dragon Gold Cup hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club in 2024 begins in earnest.

Results below

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Maeve Cotter will act as the regatta director for Kinsale's staging of the Dragon Gold Cup in 2024.

Cotter is a former Commodore of Glandore Harbour Yacht Club and the current Rear Commodore of Kinsale YC. She takes up the role with an experienced committee acting alongside her.

The event will run from 6th to 13th of September 2024.

Matthias Hellstern, Commodore of Kinsale Yacht Club, welcomed Maeve commenting, “I have worked with Maeve on a Management Committee level for over 4 years, and I have seen first-hand her ability and dedication that I have no doubt she will apply to this role. As an experienced Dragon sailor, Maeve also understands the class and what is required to make this an exceptional event.”

Kinsale Yacht Club is a long way into its planning of the 2024 event with Astra Construction already on board as the headline sponsor. The Gold Cup is the pinnacle event of the dragon season, and excitement is already mounting in Kinsale following the disappointment of having to the cancel the event in 2020 due to covid.

Dragon racing at Kinsale Yacht Club Photo: Bob BatemanDragon racing at Kinsale Yacht Club Photo: Bob Bateman

Asked for her thoughts on the role and regatta, Maeve added “I have sailed Dragons since I was a teenager and love the boat and class. My brother Michael campaigned Dragons for many years and my two sons, Daniel and Sean will be racing in the event on our boat “Whisper” so no doubt I will have plenty of suggestions and feedback! We are lucky that Kinsale is such a destination town, with the yacht club located in the heart of it, coupled with the phenomenal race area at the beginning of the wild Atlantic way. It’s really exciting for the Irish class to have such a big event to look forward to ”.

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Glandore in West Cork is a picturesque international melting pot of folk of all types from many backgrounds, and like all melting pots, it can occasionally boil ever, particularly if you have someone like Don Street stirring the heated mix. American-born Don spent much of his 92 years becoming the acknowledged expert on cruising the Caribbean and the practice of traditional self-reliant seamanship, but having had a base in Glandore for decades, even he admits to the slowing effects of advancing age.

So for some time now, his attention has become largely local, and the Glandore axe he has been grinding is the beating of the drum (now there’s a mix of metaphors for your delectation) to celebrate the versatility of the International Dragon (whether plastic fantastic or classic wooden) for club racing and junior training, in addition to contesting hugely challenging international events.

The summertime demographic of Glandore is such that they have sailors of all ages in abundance, and Don reckons the Dragons can readily accommodate them all provided that Glandore Harbour Yacht Club can become a bit more relaxed about the trend towards Committee Boat starts, and rely instead on the convenient starting platform just below the village’s “veranda square”, where all-seeing but thirsty race officers can be sure of a handy pint from one of the excellent pubs.

Platinum oldies – Don Street at Dragon racing in Glandore. Photo courtesy GHYCPlatinum oldies – Don Street at Dragon racing in Glandore. Photo courtesy GHYC

Don and his mates want races to be easily available at all times and for all ages, and to do that you need to have the starting line which can be put in place with minimum fuss, which is something conspicuously absent when you need to get a fully-crewed safety-compliant committee boat into action

Being firmly of the opinion that there really is nothing more user-friendly than a shore-based starting line with very clearly marked transits, I readily go along with that - as indeed do thousands of people who race at Cowes every year. But whatever your view, there’s no denying that the Dragon class at Glandore is an impressively successful mix of boats and people of all ages, with Don setting the standard, as his youthfully-crewed boat Gypsy is at least 89 years old, which must make him the only owner of an 89-year-old boat who happens to be even older himself………

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Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team dropped to tenth overall after the final day of Dragon class racing at the Régates Royales, in Cannes on Friday.

Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team from the Royal St. George, Dun Laoghaire and Daniel Murphy’s Fortitude from Kinsale were fighting it out at the front of the fleet for most of the week, with Byrne crewed by Adam Winkelmann and John Simms as high as fourth overall before the penultimate day.

Murphy finished 13th overall from 32-starters.


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Two of the leading British Dragons teams moved up the at Régates Royales rankings today in declining breezes in Cannes. Chris Brittain on GBR 818 scored a 2nd and 7th to move up to 4th overall, while Gavia Wilkinson Cox on GBR 716 had a 4th and 5th as she moves up to sixth overall.

It was a frustrating day for Royal St. George's Jaguar Team skippered by Martin Byrne’s as they had a 10th and 17th (discarded) and dropped dramatically down the ranking to 9th overall.

Daniel Murphy's Fortitude had a better day with Irish National Champion Cameron Good helming, who scored their best results of the week with a 6th and 11th as they move up to 12th overall.

There was also a shake-up at the top as Swiss, Portuguese and French teams changed positions on the podium.

Two final races are scheduled for Friday, but very light winds are forecast, and racing might even be doubtful.

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An early morning start on Wednesday was delayed for the Dragon fleet at Régates Royales, in Cannes as the anticipated Mistral gale took its time to materialise.

Eventually, the fleet got away in a stiff 25-knot breeze that took its toll as many boats retired on the first leg with gear failure. Two of the casualties were Irish Dragons, Tarasque and Sir Ossis.

But Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team from the Royal St. George, Dun Laoghaire and Daniel Murphy’s Fortitude from Kinsale were fighting it out at the front of the fleet, eventually finishing fifth and 11th, respectively. The fleet was sent ashore after just one race.

Jaguar Sailing Team moved up to fourth overall and first Corinthian. Fortitude are now 13th overall.

Byrne told Afloat that he was disappointed with the decision not to hold the planned second race - “this was an important day for us as we anticipated a strong performance in the heavier breezes. We were hoping for two low-scoring results that might bring us into the top three overall. Our speed and boat handling were good, but we got caught out twice on the downwind legs where covering competitors cost us places”.

Racing continues on Thursday and Friday when more moderate breezes are expected to return.

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Three of the Irish Dragon keelboat teams had top ten results today in Cannes on day two of Régates Royales.

In race three, Cameron Good and Daniel Murphy on Fortitude finish seventh and move to 12th overall, while Mark & Selina Dicker on Tarasque started their regatta a day late due to a technical problem with an 8th.

In race four, Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team were seventh. This result, combined with a 13th in this morning's race, keeps them in the top five overall and within 2 points of the podium. They have moved to second in the Corinthian division as England’s Chris Brittain on GBR818 overtakes Byrne with a first & 16th today.

Points are very tight at the top, where French national champion Jean Breger moved into the lead overall.

Conditions were very light today, but up to 20-knot breezes are expected tomorrow, and the race committee have moved the scheduled start to an hour earlier at 10 am in an attempt to complete two more races.

Racing continues to Friday.

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Dragon racing commenced on the Bay of Cannes on Monday at the Régates Royales in a very shifty 10/12 knot easterly breeze with glorious sunshine all day.

The 10-country international fleet of 33 Dragons were grateful for some efficient race management aided by the use of GPS-controlled marks.

Martin Byrne’s Jaguar Sailing Team were in front of the fleet all day but were disappointed by the 10th place in race 1. But they made up for that with a convincing win in race 2, where they went from 6th to 1st on the first downwind leg and lead the fleet to the finish.

The Royal St George crew lie 4th overall with points at the top very close.

The two top French teams of Gerry Trentesaux, 3rd at the recent Gold Cup, and current French National Champion Jean Breger are 1st and 2nd overall after today's racing.

Switzerland’s Dirk Oldenburg is 3rd overall. Byrne leads the Corinthian, non-professional, Division.

Daniel Murphy’s Fortitude with new Irish Dragon Champion, Cameron Good helming, is 12th overall with an 11th and 10th scored.

Joey Bergin’s Sir Ossis with Declan Gordon helming are 23rd overall with a 27th & 20th today.

Racing continues until Friday with light winds expected, which might shake things up.

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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.