9 September 2023 – Torquay, UK – Forty-nine teams from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, the UK, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey are gathered in Torquay for the Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2023 which gets underway on Sunday 10 September.
The legendary Dragon Gold Cup is raced over six days with a single long windward race each day and no discard, making is infamously difficult to win. Andy Beadsworth has raced in the competition many times, but so far victory has eluded him, although he made the podium in both 2022 and 2018. This week he’s helming TUR12 Proezza Dragon with long standing sailing partner in crime Simon Fry and Enes Çaylak, who is racing in his first Gold Cup. Enes is hopeful that he will bring the team luck this time out. “It’s very exciting the be here for the Gold Cup this year. The team has had some good results in the Cup in the past, but they’ve not won it yet, so I’ll try to bring the good luck to the team and try to win it this year.”
One person who’s very familiar with the venue is Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, one of the top female helms on the International Dragon circuit, who will be racing GBR831 Jerboa. “I’m born and bred in Torquay, it’s my home, I learnt to sail here, I started sailing Dragons here, and to come back to my home club is really wonderful. We were thrilled to bits to come fifth in the 75th Edinburgh Cup in Cowes in August, which was the first really serious regatta we’d done with my new boat which I got in March, so we’re looking forward to sailing here against a good fleet and good competition.”
The furthest travelled teams come from Asia and Australasia. Sailing AUS551 YeahNah is Peter Cooke and from Japan comes Australian America’s Cup and Match Racing star Peter Gilmour sailing JPN56 YRed for the Yanmar Racing Team.
There’s a strong Irish contingent led by 2015 Gold Cup winner Lawrie Smith, who is fresh from victory at the recent 75th Dragon Edinburgh Cup and will be sailing GBR815 Alfie for Glandore YC. Other top Irish Dragon sailors competing are Daniel Murphy’s IRL213 Whisper from Kinsale and Peter Bowring’s IRL225 Phantom from the Royal St George.
Portugal’s Pedro Andrade won the Gold Cup in 2019 and came second last year. This week he is sailing POR89 Saturn and will surely be hoping to engrave his name on the famous trophy for a second time.
To date, no one has ever held the Dragon World, European and Gold Cup Trophies at the same time, so reigning World and European Champion Wolf Waschkuhn sailing SUI318 1quick1 will be hoping to make Dragon history.
Alongside the big-name teams there’s also a strong Corinthian, all amateur, fleet featuring crews of friends and families who will challenge for the Dragon Gold Cup Corinthian Trophy. From Scotland comes Cathy Ogden aboard GBR508 Kismet from the Royal Forth YC. Cathy will be crewed by her co-owner Sheena Kerr, regular crew Moira Kineer and her husband. “We sailed at Cowes and we loved it so much that we decided we’d have to do Torquay as well, coz why not. I came to Torquay as a crew close on 30 years ago, in the late ‘90s. I don’t remember much about it so it must have been a very good Dragon event! But we decided to come, and we’ve got beautiful weather.”
International Dragon Association Championship Coordinator Martin ‘Stavros’ Payne typically finds himself on the Race Committee for Gold Cups, but this year he’s been allowed a pink pass, as he explains. “We’ve got Stuart Childerley as the Race Officer who’s very experienced and everybody’s got huge respect for him, plus a very good race management team at the Royal Torbay, so I’m not really required on the committee boat and get to go sailing instead. I’m racing Floatation with Richard Davies and Donald Milne and looking forward to the week. The forecast is quite light. We had a practice race today, which turned into a couple of practice starts, and although the wind was below 5 knots, our minimum starting wind speed for the championship, it was important for the Race Committee to set the lines and get all the boats out there, and so he tried some starts in the lighter winds just to warm everyone up. We’ve got a great fleet and I’m looking forward to an excellent week.”
This evening the crews gathered for the Official Opening Ceremony next to the Dragon moorings on Haldon Pier, where Atsuyuki Kodama, of Yanmar Holdings and Royal Torbay Yacht Club Commodore James Clapham welcomed the competitors to the regatta and wished them good racing, before inviting them to join them in the clubhouse for cocktails and canapes.
Six races are scheduled to be run between Sunday 10 and Friday 15 September with the start of racing programmed for noon each day. The forecast for the opening day is initially light, but with a building afternoon breeze from the south, clocking south-west.