It was 42 years ago that Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen won his first Irish National Dragon Championship…. Racing aboard “Maj-Brit” Hoj-Jensen, Axel and Per Holm won this magnificent trophy against many fine International & local Irish Teams…. Now 42 years later, the “Man”, Double Olympic Gold Medalist, Pould Richard Hoj-Jensen is back and for those of us that have had the priviledge to know and race both with and against Poul-Richard, “he has not come here to drink coffee”….  The Man is here to win.

However, there will be 66 of the finest Dragon Teams ever to assemble on Irish shores trying to beat him at this Brewin Dolphin Dragon Gold Cup. I wonder if in 1936 the Clyde Yacht Clubs ever imagined the success their action, of presenting the “Gold Cup” to further International Dragon Racing, would achieve such a reward of seeing the gathering of the very best International fleet ever here in Kinsale, a jewel of Ireland. The Gold Cup is unique in that there are no discards, so it’s like sailing a “Black Flag” race everyday. One mistake, one OCS, one misjudgement or infringement and it’s all over… and there will no Fat Lady singing on the way back to the marina!

So can Poul-Richard win ? Well he has already won the Irish Nationals in Dublin, he has a brand new “Danish Blue” Petticrow Dragon and his favourite sailing “son” Theis Palm from North Sails is on board. Theis and PR go back a long way to when they raced Solings together and PR also introduced Theis to sailmaking…. Theis has since become one of the premier tacticians in the world and will certainly help to guide the 68yr old “Man” around the race track…. Anyway, if it all goes wrong, the Man can always blame Noddy  🙂

But it is not going to be a one man show, as I look down the field of competitors, the names of brilliant sailors jump out at me and show that this will be “one hell-a-va battle”…  For example we have the current World Champion here, Lawrie Smith, who along with 3 times winner of the Gold Cup Jorgen Schonherr are both here to give it their all. Then another favourite is former Gold Cup winner Tommy Muller who has Vincent Hoesch on board, Vincie has also won numerous Gold Cup’s both as a helmsman and crew. Another former Gold Cup winner is Anatoly Loginov who heads a formidable Russian entry list. Also we have one the best Australian teams here, with Richard Lynn at the helm, his crew “Hicko” tells me they have been kicking some ass down under, so lets keep a watchful eye on their progress this week.

Ireland themselves are represented by some excellent teams, current Edinburgh Cup Champion Simon Brien and his KIN team will be in the mix as will former UK & Irish Champion Martin Byrne who has a point to prove after his recent loss of form…Local Kinsale sailor and recent South Coast Champion, Cameron Good may also have a part to play.  Then two boats  from the UK  to look out for will be Graham Bailey GBR 720 and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox GBR 761, from Portugal Jose Matoso will there or there abouts as will the Hungarian representitive Ferenc Szolgyemi. Then last but by no means least and most definately the toughest and most successful teams over the last three years are “Transbunker” from the Urkraine. If Marcus, Lars and Evgeniy turn up, then this will be the greatest Gold Cup ever!

Higher, Faster, Longer……….    Stavros (GBR 761)