The Dragon Gold Cup has evolved over many years, starting as a timber-built boat, and there will be some classic Dragons on show this year.

One of the highlights of the international sailing season, the Dragon Gold Cup 2024, will take place in Kinsale from September 6-13.

This is the third time the prestigious event is being hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club. It was previously in Kinsale in 2012 and 1977. It was supposed to be in Kinsale in 2020 but had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.

Co-class captain, Daniel Murphy, is proud that Kinsale is regarded as one of the top spots in Europe for sailing.

“You can see that reflected in the willingness of international participants wanting to come here. The yacht club has world class facilities. There are excellent sailing winds; the tides are relatively consistent; there are no river currents where we’re out at sea and the background of the Old Head of Kinsale is very attractive.”

 However, as Daniel concedes, it’s not possible to predict the weather these days.

“But given that we have seven days of racing, we’re pretty confident that we’ll get the full racing schedule done even if we have to lose a day or two because of too much or too little wind.”

 The Dragon is a former Olympic class boat and is traditionally sailed by members of European royalty, wealthy individuals, professional and Corinthian sailors.

“Unfortunately, there are no royals taking part this year. The then Crown Prince of Denmark (now King Frederik) came in 2012. But he doesn’t race Dragons anymore.”

 Noteworthy sailors coming to the Dragon Gold Cup this year include Lawrie Smith who is defending his gold cup which he won in Torquay last year. He races in a British boat but under the flag of Glandore Yacht Club in West Cork. Also, the current Dragon world champion, Wolf Waschkuhn, will be in Kinsale.

“We have a boat coming, sailed by a couple called Graham and Julia Bailey who are racing on board Bluebottle which was owned by the late Duke of Edinburgh. The boat is now looked after by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust. It has been restored back to full racing condition.”

The Dragon class of boat was first designed in 1929. “It has evolved over many years, starting as a timber-built boat. There will be some classic Dragons at the Gold Cup as well. The late Don Street of Glandore (a renowned authority on ocean sailing and author) was due to come to the Gold Cup but unfortunately he passed away recently at the age of 94. He was instrumental in reviving the classic boat circuit for the Dragons. He is sadly missed. We will have a classic boat trophy dedicated to him.”

So far, thirty-five boats have entered the regatta.

“That will go up to about fifty-five boats by the time the event comes around. We already have teams from ten different countries. That will go up to twelve or thirteen.”

 The Gold Cup event is taking place at the end of the peak holiday season, making accommodation for the visiting boat teams easier to book. It’s good for the local economy.

“There will be fifty plus teams staying in Kinsale for eight or nine days, going to bars and restaurants.”

 The principal sponsor is Astra Construction Services, based in Carrigaline. TNG Swiss Watches will be the official timekeeper and will present time pieces to the Gold Cup Open and Corinthian Champion helms. Guinness and Cork County Council are also onboard as sponsors as well as Yanmar.

“The Kinsale Good Food Circle is offering vouchers to participants that we’ll give away as prizes.” A full social programme will include the opening ceremony and every day, the après sail will entertain people. There will be a drinks evening at Charlesfort and a prize-giving event. There will also be the Dragon Gold Cup 80th anniversary gala dinner at Acton’s Hotel.

It’s the 80th anniversary of the event even though the Gold Cup has been running within a time span of eighty-seven years. It was stopped during World War 11 and during covid.

Daniel’s co-class captain is Brian Goggin.

“We’re the ones who pushed to get Kinsale this event,” says Daniel. “My mum (Maeve Cotter) came on board as regatta director.”

 Maeve is an experienced Dragon sailor with an international event management background.

 “I am really looking forward to welcoming our Dragon sailing friends to our lovely harbour for the Kinsale Yacht Club Gold Cup 2024 and to celebrating the 80th anniversary of this historic competition,” says Maeve.

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