The Leeside Legends series: Harold Cudmore was a legend on the high seas

The Leeside Legends series: Harold Cudmore was a legend on the high seas

Cork yachtsman, Harold Cudmore came to international prominence with Chris Bruen as his crew had excellent results in World Championships.

IT’S a sad fact that one of Ireland’s and Cork’s most successful international sportsman is better known outside his own country than at home.

Ireland’s top yachtsman, Harold Cudmore has represented Ireland on numerous occasions all over the world as during his career he gained a number of firsts in single events as has been a revelation over many years in his beloved sport.

Harold comes from a well-known Cork family was educated at Christian Brothers College and during his youth developed a keen interest in sailing and by the age of 16 he had established himself as something special.

He was prepared to sail in anything from a Cadet dinghy to one of the beautiful cruisers that graced the harbour in the time and amassed a huge amount of expertise in a relatively short period.

Harold achieved his first success at national level sailing in Enterprise dinghies a class that is still recognised as an ideal one for young sailors to acquire the skills and seamanship that will hopefully produce the experts of the future.

Cudmore came to International prominence in the fifties and sixties and with Chris Bruen (son of the late famous golfer Jimmy) as his crew had excellent results in the World championships.

Perhaps the most notable achievement was a second place in the 1969 championships that were staged in Argentina.

Harold moved to the Flying Dutchman class in 1971 with the aim of being selected for the Irish Olympic Team in 1972.

This was achieved and crewed by Richard O’Shea of Crosshaven they represented their country with distinction in Kiel Germany.

A campaign for the 1976 season was planned once again using the undoubted talents of the Ron Holland design team.

Some subtle modifications to the extremely quick Silver Shamrock produced a yacht that everyone hoped would be even quicker.

The budget was very limited but an outstanding performance at Cowes Week where they won all six races against some of the hottest competition in the world gave them a huge boost for their attempt to win the World Half Ton cup championship that were held in Italy.

A journey across Europe by trailer and a car that had seen better days was in itself notable as they found that the only way to keep the car from continually overheating was to drive with the bonnet open that caused much amusement to the natives of France, Germany and Italy. The championships were held in Trieste and against the best in the sailing world a team of Corkmen led by Harold achieved the most notable success in the history of Irish yachting by winning the coveted trophy.

Cudmore produced another extremely fast yacht called ‘Big Apple’ and the quality of the yacht was recognised by the world-renowned photographers Beken of Cowes who awarded him with a special trophy for having the most elegant yacht on the circuit.

Harold Cudmore representing Ireland in the Flying Dutchman Class 1972 Olympics at Kiel, West Germany.
Harold Cudmore representing Ireland in the Flying Dutchman Class 1972 Olympics at Kiel, West Germany.

Many of the Cork people who have crewed with Harold over the years have made a significant contribution to his successes like winning the British championship on less than five occasions as well as victories in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and France.

The 1981 season will be remembered for two main reasons.

Firstly, Harold was in the wars when skippering the Australian yacht Hitch Hiker in the Admirals Cup series but more importantly, he got involved with Frank Woods of Dublin in what was to become the World One Ton Cup winner Justine 3.

One could have written a separate publication to list the full achievements of Harold Cudmore as he achieved more than most sailors in the history of the sport.

From the Americas Cup to the Admirals Cup Cudmore has competed with the best in all competitions.

Harold was well known and respected as a master tactician and he was also considered to be one of the top two or three in the world in the competitive field of match racing.

Harold Cudmore Irish yachtsman, is saluted for all his magnificent achievements in his chosen sport and more importantly for the excellent way in which he has brought recognition and a great deal of credit to the city of his birth and to Ireland.


Harold Cudmore took up sailing at the age of 16 and through the encouragement of his father, also Harold, soon became a top sailor.

He finished runner-up in the World Championship of 1969 that were staged in Argentina.

Harold had a stunning win in the World Championship in 1976 at Trieste Italy.

Cudmore won the British Championship five times as well as winning major races in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and France.

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