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Big names line up for Dragon Gold Cup 2024 in Kinsale sponsored by Astra Construction Services Ltd

by International Dragon Association 23 May 16:46 BST 6-13 September 2024
Kinsale Yacht Club Dragon Gold Cup 2024 sponsored by Astra Construction Services Ltd Heading upwind off the Old Head of Kinsale © Robert Bateman

Already many of the big names from the world of Dragon sailing have confirmed their participation in the 2024 Dragon Gold Cup Kinsale sponsored by Astra Construction Services Ltd. With nearly six weeks still to go until the entry closing date, 30 teams from Switzerland, Great Britain, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, the Netherlands and France have already signed up.

Reigning Gold Cup Champion, Olympic Bronze medallist and America's Cup and Whitbread Race veteran Lawrie Smith will be defending his title, which he won in Torquay in 2023. Although British by nationality, Smith's love affair with Ireland is long standing and he will race under the flag of the Glandore Yacht Club. He first won the Gold Cup in 2015, but took some time out from topflight Dragon racing, before returning to the fleet in 2023 to win both the Edinburgh Cup (British Open Championship) and the Gold Cup in spectacular style, with a new crew of Ruaridh Scott, Goncalo Ribeiro and Richard Parslow.

This will be the 80th edition of the Dragon Gold Cup and in that long and illustrious history only seven sailors have ever successfully defended their title. Smith will be hoping to join Aage Birch, P Stulken, Bengt Palmquist, Fred Imhoff, Harm Müller-Spreer, Jorgen Schoenherr and Markus Wiser to become only the eighth person to retain the trophy.

"Dragon sailing is always enjoyable and challenging but throw in the bonus of sailing from Kinsale and it's impossible to resist defending our title. Kinsale is an exceptional venue with superb open ocean racing and great craic shoreside so we're really looking forward to the event. We'll be up against some tough competition, so it won't be easy, but we'll give it our best shot." Commented Lawrie Smith.

Switzerland's Wolf Waschkuhn will come to the event as the reigning Dragon World Champion and having finished second to Smith at the 2023 Gold Cup in Torquay he will no doubt be looking for revenge. Pedro Rebelo de Andrade of Portugal won the Gold Cup in 2019 in Medemblik, while Germany's Stephan Link claimed the trophy is 2017 and both will be hoping for victory again.

Also racing will be Graham and Julia Bailey aboard the historic Bluebottle, which was raced by the late Duke of Edinburgh. Now owned by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, she has been fully restored to racing condition and regularly competes on the international circuit. For Graham Bailey the return to Kinsale will be a welcome one, "My first experience of Kinsale was the Flying Fifteen Worlds in 1984 when Tony O'Gorman was the superb Race Officer. 40 years later we are very excited at the prospect of sailing Bluebottle in these famous waters against the great Irish and Continental teams convening to battle it out for the Gold Cup. It will be a thriller and what would really make my day is if Tony is still to be found in the vicinity of the yacht club bar - it's probably my round."

Long standing International Dragon Class sponsor Yanmar has confirmed that it will sponsor the event's après sailing programme. They join title sponsor Astra Construction Services Ltd, official timing sponsor TNG Swiss Watches, and supporting sponsors Cork County Council, Rooster, Guinness, the Trident Hotel, Actons Hotel, Pure Cork, the Kinsale Good Food Circle North Sails and The Blue Haven.

For international visitors getting to Ireland is very straight forward and Kinsale Yacht Club has negotiated deals with DFDS, Irish Ferries, Stenna Line and Brittany Ferries, full details of which can be found on the event website. Cork International Airport also has excellent direct links to many major European cities and is only 30 minutes from the clubhouse.

The 2024 Dragon Gold Cup Kinsale will take place from 5 to 13 September. Registration and weighing will be on Thursday 5 to Saturday 7 September, when there will also be a Practice Race. Championship racing will run from Sunday 8 September to Friday 13 September with a total of six races scheduled. Racing will take place in open ocean against the spectacular backdrop of the Old Head of Kinsale with a target first beat of 2.5 miles on a windward leeward course. Four races are required to constitute a series and there are no discards in the series.

Online entry is open until 26 August 2024.

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