Dragon Gold Cup


Two final races in glorious sun and moderate breeze completed the six-race Dragon Gold Cup 2021 by Yanmar in Marstrand. The regatta ended dramatically when no less than five of the top ten boats were disqualified under the black flag in the penultimate race, leaving the overall results wide open. 

It must have been a welcome relief for overnight leader Pieter Heerma to see so many close rivals pull back. But with no discards in the Gold Cup, there were still a lot of races between him and his victory, so he immediately got back into business. Because just like every year there were formidable opponents.


Going into the final race Heerema and his team had a sixteen-point delta on nearest rival Pedro Andrade, so their focus was on starting cleanly and staying out of trouble. Andrade got a great start at the committee boat end, tacked right straight away, and went on to lead the race comfortably all the way to the finish. Behind him, a chasing pack soon broke off the front of the fleet and a tight battle ensued between Andy Beadsworth, Magnus Holmberg, Dmitry Samokhin, David Gilmour and Pieter Heerema. Despite winning the race in spectacular style, Andrade knew his reign as Dragon Gold Cup Champion had come to an end as Heerema crossed the line in fourth behind Beadsworth and Samokhin. Holmberg took fifth and Sweden’s Martin Pålsson sixth.

In the overall standings, Pieter Heerema claimed victory by thirteen points. Pedro Andrade took second and the Japanese team of David Gilmour, Sam Gilmour and Yashiro Yaju sailing YRed and representing event sponsor Yanmar, finished third.

1stNED412TroikaPieter Heerema1, 2, 5 3, 2, 417
2ndPOR89Pedro AndradePetti Portugal2, 6, 8, 7, 6, 130
3rdJPN56David GilmourYRed13, 25, 2, 12, 5, 865
4thSWE401Martin PålssonNono14, 11, 9, 10, 25, 675

Pieter Heerema, winner of the GoldCup 2021

Winning the GoldCup was a sweet victory for Pieter Heerema, who has spent 30 years trying to win this prestigious battle. He had even developed something of a bridesmaid’s reputation having made the lower slopes on the podium in 2013, 2018 and 2019. But Heerema, a Vende Globe Race veteran, is not a man to give in easily and that determination has finally paid off.

At the age of eleven, he began to sail on a Flits a small Dutch double dinghy popular with the youth then moving onto the 470 and keelboats Yngling, J/22 and J/24. Later he started sailing larger boats campaigning at a higher International level in both the Dragon and his RC44 on the boat named “No Way Back”. Besides that, he also participated in the 2016–2017 Vendée Globe with limited offshore racing and solo experience.

The Goldcup

The Dragon Gold Cup is an annual sailing race of the Dragon class since 1937. It was organized by the International Dragon Association and the Clyde Yacht Clubs’ Association. This race was until 1965 considered as an unofficial World Cup.

Through the years a lot of rules are established. They set a rotation system about where the event should take place. Members of this association donated a trophy made of pure gold. The trophy may then remain in the winner’s home for one year until the new competition is organized. Then it will be passed on to the new winner.

The cup went home last year with Pieter Hereema. He sailed with his two companions, Danish Lars Hendriksen and German George Leonchuck to victory under the Dutch flag with their beautiful dragon Troika. After finishing second the previous two years, was this a very sweet victory for the team.

The overall most successful sailor of the Goldcup is Danish Aage Birch, with seven titles, followed by fellow Danish Ole Berntsen, with five titles. In total, Danish crews have won 32 titles.

Curious who will take the win this year? Then go to Ostend in August where the new dragon cup will take place. You can read more about this year’s program on the next page.

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