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Cameron Good's Dragon 'Little Fella' was the overall winner of Kinsale Yacht Club's one day Dragon keelboat Regatta on Saturday (August 1).

Good, who also won KYC's Pery Knox Gore 2020 Trophy in late July, sailed with Henry Kingston and Simon Good.

The Race officer for the one-day event was former KYC Commodore, Dave O'Sullivan. The event is part of the build-up for next month's Cantor Fitzgerald sponsored Dragon Week at the club. As Afloat reported previously, interest is building for the event that will include racing for National Championship honours.

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Following the recent announcement of the Cantor Fitzgerald Dragon Week, enquires and interest has steadily been making their way back to the Kinsale fleet in West Cork.

Kinsale Yacht Club is hopeful that the “green list” will allow UK travel by September as several UK teams have indicated their intention to travel.

Kinsale Yacht Club dragon sailors should have seven boats competing with long time Dragon campaigner Cameron Good along with his crew on “Little Fella” will be hoping to lift the National title, the one championship that has eluded this team over their illustrious career

Other Kinsale hopefuls will be the Goggin/ Murphy team on “Serafina” along with “TBD” made up of experienced campaigners James Matthews, Dave Good and Fergal O’Hanlon.

Glandore Harbour has indicated that five teams are hopeful of making the short journey down the coast and no doubt multiple national championship winners “Phanton” from Dublin will be in Kinsale to defend their crown. The class rumour mill has also been in overdrive recently with suggestions that Royal St. George's Michael Cotter together with Belfast Lough's Simon Brien and Davy Gomes are to sail the Dragon, “Whisper” for the week!

The “Cantor Fitzgerald Dragon Week” will run in the following format:

  • South Coat Championships - Saturday 5th – Monday 7th September
  • Lay Day – Tuesday 8th September
  • National Championships – Wednesday 9th – Saturday 12th September
Published in Dragon
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Much of the rest of the sailing world may be whirling in coronavirus confusion, but in serene and elegant Glandore in West Cork. the strong local division of classic and modern International Dragons went smoothly into their 14-race Dragon Derby at the weekend. And last Saturday’s racing had a very special flavour, as it marked the 90th birthday of international super-sailor Don Street, who must have done more sailing his time in a greater variety of boats – inshore, offshore and oceanic – than possibly all of his fellow-members of Glandore Harbour Yacht Club combined.

a youthful crew appears from  below decks……but as start time approaches, a youthful crew appears from below decks

Don’s classic Dragon Gypsy – IRL 15 – is of much the same vintage as himself, and is undoubtedly the oldest actively raced Dragon in Ireland, one of a very elite group of seniors worldwide - as is her owner-skipper. It says much for the profound qualities of the 91-year-old Dragon design that Don Street and his colleagues in Glandore should put so much enthusiasm in keeping this very special division of the class actively alive. Happy birthday, Don……

Glandore Dragons closing in on the markGlandore Dragons closing in on the mark

A very special birthday party in Glandore – at 90, Don Street (second left) enjoys his post-race parties as much as ever.A very special birthday party in Glandore – at 90, Don Street (second left) enjoys his post-race parties as much as ever.

Published in Historic Boats
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Kinsale Yacht Club has announced Cantor Fitzgerald is the headline sponsor for Dragon Week 2020 which will be held in Kinsale from the 5th to 12th of September 2020

After the unfortunate cancellation of September's Gold Cup, the Kinsale fleet got together and the idea of Dragon Week was born.

“We had huge interest in the Gold Cup this year and were expecting over 80 entries”, commented Kinsale Dragon stalwart Cameron Good. “However we know that there are many very keen Dragon sailors out there looking to get sailing and the idea with Dragon Week was to maintain the enthusiasm within the Irish fleet. We are using the same dates as the Gold Cup and will run a weeklong series, incorporating the South Coast and National Championships, but with an open invitation to sailors from any nation to come and race if they can”.

The “Cantor Fitzgerald Dragon Week” will run in the following format:

  • South Coat Championships - Saturday 5th – Monday 7th September
  • Lay Day – Tuesday 8th September
  • National Championships – Wednesday 9th – Saturday 12th September

Reacting to the announcement that Cantor Fitzgerald were to headline sponsor this unique event, Daniel Murphy, Head of Cantor Fitzgerald’s Cork office stated that “With the disappointment associated with the cancellation of the Gold Cup, we were immediately attracted to the proactive nature of how Kinsale Yacht Club went about redesigning the calendar by being creative and coming up with the concept of Dragon Week.

Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland is part of leading global financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald. With a proud history of stockbroking and servicing our private clients and financial advisors in Ireland since 1995, we provide a full suite of investment services, primarily in personalised share dealing, pensions, wealth management, fund management, debt capital markets and corporate finance. We are proud to be working in tandem with the Irish Dragon fleet and Kinsale Yacht Club in these exceptional times and look forward to a great week.”

Published in Kinsale
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During a “COVID 19” garage clean out recently, a box of unclaimed prizes was found for the Irish Dragon keelboat class.

These, according to the inscriptions thereon, were to be awarded at the prize-giving for the East Coast Dragon Championships 1985 to the 3rd, 5th and 6th places overall. Apparently, as 1st, 2nd and 4th were presented, there was no one there to receive the others. In fact, no one has any idea how they came to be.

After some debate, it was decided to try and find who the recipients might have been.

By delving through the Dragon Class records, the Dublin Bay Dragon Fleet Captain’s Report Season 1985 revealed the following relevant information:- “Congratulations to the East Coast Dragon Championships winner Conor Doyle and his crew in Alphida and runner-up Alan Crosbie and his crew in Isolde. Other placings were 3rd John Kidney (Hikari), 4th Gerry Owens (Titan), 5th Peter & Susan Gray (Andromeda) and 6th Dan O’Connor (Leprechaun).

It was then decided to arrange a belated prize giving, albeit 35 years late, for the rediscovered prizes. This took place in accordance with COVID 19 protocol on Thursday 25th June.

Prizes were presented by the owner of the garage in question, former Dragon ace Michael Cotter.

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Kinsale Yacht Club have today confirmed that the 2020 Dragon Gold Cup, due to be sailed from the 5 to 11 September, has been cancelled.

“Clearly the global COVID-19 crisis has already impacted many events and our thoughts and prayers are with those personally affected by the crisis.” commented Regatta Director Tony Kingston whilst adding “We had sought consultation with all of our stakeholders, including the International Dragon Association, Irish Sailing and of course our wonderful sponsors. With up to 500 visitors expected to travel to Kinsale from all corners of the world, we needed to be sure that our borders will be open without quarantine restrictions and unfortunately, we simply do not have the clarity we need at this stage to be able to pursue our goal of running a world-class event”.

"We simply do not have the clarity we need"

Headline Sponsor for the Gold Cup, Ciaran Fitzgerald of the Blue Haven Collection added “The Blue Haven Collection were honoured to be headline sponsor for the Gold Cup and was excited to welcome everyone to Kinsale this September. We were supported by Heineken Ireland and the Kinsale Good Food Circle and had looked forward to showing everyone why Kinsale is the Gourmet Capital of Ireland. As a hotel located in the heart of our town, I have seen first-hand how difficult local businesses have found this lockdown, but Kinsale has overcome many battles over the years, will come back stronger than ever and we would be delighted to welcome the Dragon Class to Kinsale at any stage in the future”.

Speaking of the announcement, Kinsale Yacht Club’s Commodore Michael Walsh said “We are obviously disappointed to have to cancel this prestigious event. We believe it is the correct decision based on the information we currently have, and people’s health is to the forefront of our minds. Kinsale Yacht Club was privileged to be selected to host the Gold Cup for 2020 building on the success of the 2012 event, an event I personally participated in. I have seen first-hand the hard work that Tony and his entire team have put in behind the scenes and whilst it saddens us all to cancel, we would be hopeful of hosting another major Dragon event at Kinsale Yacht club in the near future”.

Chairman of the International Dragon Association, Jens Rathsack, concluded by saying “On behalf of all Dragon sailors who were eagerly anticipating a return to Kinsale - one of the class’s best-loved venues - we would like to thank Kinsale Yacht Club’s Gold Cup 2020 organising team for their herculean efforts to make the event possible. Sadly, the likely restrictions on international travel have made it impossible to proceed, but we will return to this beautiful venue again soon and when we do I am quite certain that we will enjoy another superb regatta with famous Irish hospitality!”

The Kinsale Dragon class are now working towards “Irish Dragon Week” which would be a South Coast and National Championships combined into the same week scheduled for the Gold Cup, however news of the viability of this event will be announced in July.

Kinsale Yacht club and the organising committee would like to take this opportunity to thank our Gold Cup 2020 sponsors:

  • Blue Haven Collection – Headline Sponsor
  • Heineken Ireland - Drinks Partner
  • Cork County Council & Pure Cork
  • Brendan O’Regan of Zenith Technologies
  • Kinsale Good Food Circle
  • Dubarry Ireland
  • Brewin Dolphin
  • Glebe Country House
  • Trident Hotel
  • Actons Hotel
  • Perryville House

Full refunds of all entry fees will be processed over the coming weeks

Published in Kinsale
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Kinsale Yacht Club (KYC) and the International Dragon Association (IDA) have today confirmed that planning for the 2020 Dragon Gold Cup, to be raced off Kinsale from 5 to 11 September, is still progressing as normal at the current time.

Speaking on behalf of the club and the Irish Dragon Class, Regatta Director Tony Kingston said, “Clearly the global COVID-19 crisis has already impacted many events and our thoughts and prayers are with those personally affected by the crisis. However, we are doing all we can to remain positive and be prepared for when we can once again come together to enjoy the sport we love. Although by no means certain, there are signs of hope that by September the current restrictions may have been relaxed. We, therefore, continue to work towards delivering a truly outstanding Dragon Gold Cup 2020 and to welcoming friends from across the globe for what I am sure will be a very special reunion.”

IDA Secretary Tim Pearson added, “We would ask all Dragon sailors to continue making arrangements to attend the 2020 Gold Cup at this time. We are of course mindful that teams will be travelling internationally to attend and so this decision is being kept under regular review as further advice in regard to the international travel situation and from the Irish Government becomes available. We anticipate that a final decision to confirm the event will be made in early June, however, should a change be forced upon us prior to this we will, of course, keep competitors fully updated.”

The 2020 Dragon Gold Cup will be raced from Sunday 6 to Friday 11 September with six races scheduled. Onsite registration for the event will open on Thursday 3 September with a practice race scheduled for Saturday 5 September. A Warmup Regatta is planned for the weekend of 29 and 30 August. Online entry for the Dragon Gold Cup is already open at www.dragongoldcup2020.com where the Notice of Race and additional information can also be found.

KYC confirms that in the event it becomes necessary to cancel the regatta all entry fees will be refunded.

For further information about the Dragon Gold Cup 2020 contact [email protected]

Published in Dragon
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In the light of the latest UK Government announcement, the British Dragon Association (BDA) along with the Royal Forth Yacht Club (RFYC) has taken the decision to cancel this year's Scottish Dragon Championship and Edinburgh Cup event on the Forth scheduled for July. It's a scenario that means competition at Kinsale Yacht Club's staging of the Dragon Gold Cup in September will be even more intense

BDA Chairman Simon Barter said: "After hearing the latest public health instruction about COVID-19 we have made the inevitable decision to cancel the 2020 Scottish Championship and Edinburgh Cup. This has been done to secure the safety and health of our members, competitors, volunteers and spectators.

"This year's event was to feature the famous International Dragon Bluebottle previously owned by HRH Prince Philip and currently undergoing a full restoration on the Isle of Wight. But while this would have been a historic event for the national Dragon fleet it would not be responsible for us to continue when we must all need to be complying with Government instructions.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the RFYC team and the Scottish Dragon fleet who have put so much time and effort into planning for a great event this year. We now look to focus on 2021 for an outstanding national event.

The provisional plan is to hold the event on the Forth in 2021.

The 2020 Dragon Gold Cup is planned for September in Kinsale. More details here

Published in Scottish Waters
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The British Dragon Association (BDA) is proud to announce that this year’s Edinburgh Cup fleet will include the famous International Dragon Bluebottle. Hosted by the Royal Forth Yacht Club (RFYC) from 30 June to 3 July 2020 Dragon sailors from across the country and further afield will head to Edinburgh to compete for the National Championship title.

Built by Camper and Nicholson in 1948, Bluebottle was presented to HM the Queen and HRH Prince Philip as a wedding present from the Island Sailing Club of Cowes, Isle of Wight. She is the only British Dragon to have won an Olympic medal, picking up a bronze at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

The beloved keelboat spent 40 years as a sail-training vessel at the Britannia Royal Naval College and more recently was residing on the pontoon at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, in Falmouth. Now at the age of 72 - Bluebottle is undergoing a full restoration by David Heritage Racing Yachts on the Isle of Wight in preparation to be sailed and raced in Edinburgh this coming summer.

The Edinburgh Cup has been the British Open National Championship since 1949 when it was presented by the Duke of Edinburgh to the British Dragon class. In 2020 the annual event returns to its eponymous home on the Firth of Forth, where it was last held in 1997.

Royal Yacht Bluebottle before renovationsRoyal Yacht Bluebottle before renovations

BDA Chairman Simon Barter commented on the upcoming National event for the class; “It is a privilege for the class to be able to showcase this most famous Dragon at our National Championship regatta, being held this year at its namesake venue.

“The Edinburgh Cup is a coveted trophy and attracts some of the biggest international names in Dragon racing from Olympic medallists, round the world race veterans and amateur sailors who are at the top of their sport.”

Bluebottle is part of the Royal Collection made up of 13 historic royal residences and over 1 million objects including thousands of images, ceramics, books, jewellery, art and other vessels. She joins the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Flying Fifteen Cowslip and the ocean yacht racing winner Bloodhound.

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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.

Published in Kinsale
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