- Lawrie Smith, Ruaridh Scott, Goncalo Ribeiro and Richard Parslow are Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup Champions 2023.
- David Tabb, Laerke Norgard and Graham Latham win the Yanmar Dragon Corinthian Gold Cup.
- Owen Pay, John Mortimer and Chris Brittain win the Silver Cup.
- The Nations Cup team competition is won by the British team.
- Kinsale, Ireland looks forward to welcoming the 2024 Dragon Gold Cup from 5 to 13 September.
15 September 2023 – Torquay, UK – A spectacular fifth race in warm sunshine and a light east-south-easterly concluded the 2023 Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup in Torquay. Going into the final day British Olympian, America’s Cup and Whitbread Race veteran Lawrie Smith and his crew of Ruaridh Scott, Goncalo Ribeiro and Richard Parslow already had victory within their grasp. Smith knew what he had to do, and he executed it perfectly, starting near the favoured pin end he sailed smart, kept out of trouble and cruised home in fifth place to secure his second Gold Cup win.
The fifth and final race was a stunner with constant place changes and a nail-biting last leg to decide second and third overall that saw Gilmour, sailing for the Yanmar Racing Team with Yasuhiro Yaji and Sam Gilmour, take his first race win of the series from Germany’s Jan Woortman. Behind him Dragon World and European Champion Wolf Waschkuhn of Switzerland, sailing with Joao Vidinha and Charles Nankin, knew that to beat Gilmour for the silver medal he needed to finish fourth or better. As he came to the line he was neck and neck with Britian’s Graham Bailey and Smith. Right on the line Bailey surged in to take third and all eyes turned to see if Smith would get past him or not. By just a matter of a few feet Waschkuhn took fourth place to secure the second step on the podium with Gilmour on the third.
After racing Peter Gilmour was happy with the outcome. “We’re not disappointed, we went through a few calculations down the last run. If we could sail back to Wolf to park him up was one of the options, but we thought no we’ll just continue on and see what happens. It was close but he did a good job of hanging in there. I think they probably had a pretty nervous time onboard too. It was great to have the Yanmar team here, they’re coming out to learn as they want to host their own international regatta in the future, and I think it all helps. I think Yanmar is pretty keen to build Dragon sailing in Japan, so it will be interesting to see their takeaways from this event.”
In the Corinthian Division it all came down to the last race between Britain’s David Tabb sailing with Laerke Norgard and Graham Latham, and Austria’s Christoph Skolaut, sailing with George Skolaut and Martin Lutz, who went into the day on equal points. Tabb got the upper hand on the first beat and although Skolaut did his best to catch up it wasn’t to be. On the line Tabb finished in eighth place and claimed the Dragon Gold Cup Corinthian Trophy. Skolaut took twelfth in the race and the silver medal, and third overall in the Corinthian Division went to Ireland’s Neil Hegarty, Peter Bowring and David Williams.
David Tabb, who finished ninth in the overall standings, was very pleased with his new team’s performance, noting that this was only their second regatta together. “Top ten overall is good so we’re very pleased. We weren’t expecting to win as with Graham on board we’re 40kg underweight. It was Graham’s second regatta and the first time we’ve ever had the same team twice, so that’s nice. All in all, it was nice sailing, I’m a bit surprised to be honest. I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as easy. I thought it would be a lot harder. We seemed to just find lanes and go quite fast, so nothing clever, we keep ourselves clear and try to not get into any fights. Every time we got in a fight, we made a mess of it, so we know we’re not the sharpest of teams, so we just try to keep clear and get on. The boat’s lovely and Stavros [Martin Payne] did a great job of teaching me how to sail and set it up.”
At the prize giving the first presentations were for race five with third placed Graham Bailey of Bluebottle, second placed Jan Woortman and Peter Gilmour and their teams receiving Yanmar Dragon Gold Cup 2023 glasses.
There was then a special presentation of a new kitbag to the youngest sailor in the fleet, 12-year-old Diogo Reis of Portugal, an Optimist sailor who raced with Peter Cunningham, Martin Westerdahl and Pedro Rebelo de Andrade. Asked what he thought of his first Gold Cup he responded, “It was fun!”.
Each of the main prize winners received a specially commissioned wall art chart of the race area and a special bottle of Yanmar Champage, which is cultivated using Yanmar’s autonomous vineyard robot which offers precision spraying and easily navigates steep slopes and narrow vineyard alleys. In addition, the winning Gold Cup and Corinthian Gold Cup skippers each also received a TNG Swiss Watches custom Yanmar Dragon Gold 2023 Sailingmaster watch.
First to receive their prizes were the Corinthians with David Tabb, Laerke Norgard and Graham Latham receiving a huge cheer as they came to the stage. In his acceptance speech David not only thanked his crew and the organisers, but also paid tribute to the sponsor Yanmar and to his fellow Dragon sailors, who he thanked for making he and his crew so welcome since they joined the fleet two years ago.
Next was the Gold Cup itself with Lawrie Smith, Ruaridh Scott, Goncalo Ribeiro and Richard Parslow coming up to receive the historic trophy. In his thank you speech Lawrie said, “Before I thank other people I need to thank these guys [his crew]. I don’t sail that much and Ruaridh and Goncalo kind of get me and Animal [Richard Parslow] just to do what we’re told as we’re a bit old for this, but we hung in there, so thanks guys. Also, thanks to an awful lot of people who helped us when we broke the mast the other day, that was really appreciated as without you we’d not be here. The Royal Torbay and all the volunteers were amazing. I always like coming here, it’s such a great yacht club, the racing is always good, and I know there’s an awful lot of work that goes into organising these things and it takes a long time, and on behalf of all the sailors we really appreciate that. And Stuart [Childerley, Race Officer] – you and your team didn’t put a foot wrong mate, it was perfect racing all week, the beat was square, the run was square, and it was bang on. And then the Dragon Class, as we all know it’s still pretty much the only one design boat where you can go around Europe and you can race every other week and it’s thanks to all the people behind the scenes that make this such a great class.”.
The next presentation was the Silver Cup, which is awarded to the boat that finishing exactly halfway up the final overall results. A special cheer went up as Britain’s Owen Pay, John Mortimer and Chris Brittain came up to receive the trophy.
Finally, the Nations Cup was awarded, which goes to the top performing three boat national team in the competition. The three boat teams are made up of each country’s top performing boats from the first race. This year the Nations Cup was won by the British team of Lawrie Smith’s Alfie, Grant Gordon’s Louise Racing and David Tabb’s True Story.
To close the ceremony Ireland’s Peter Bowring took the opportunity to invite all the competitors to take part in the 2024 Dragon Gold Cup, which will be hosted by the Kinsale Yacht Club in County Cork, Ireland from September 5 to 13 and to the Irish Championship in Dunleary from 22 to 25 August.
Further information is available at the event website.
OVERALL TOP FIVE
1st – Lawrie Smith, GBR815, Alfie – 1, 3, 2.7(RDGc), 3, 4, 5 = 17.5
2nd – Wolf Waschkuhn, SUI318, 1quick1 – 4, 4, 12, 6, 4 = 30
3rd – Peter Gilmour, JPN56, YRed – 3, 12, 13, 2, 1 = 31
4th – Stephan Link, GER62, Dessert Holly – 13, 10, 6, 5, 6 = 40
3rd – Bo Johansen, DEN423, Deja Vu Ver. 2.0 – 2, 24, 1, 2, 1, 15 = 45