Dragon Classic News February 2024

Regattas: Classics can of course sail in any Dragon event. There are some which are restricted to them and others where Classics are likely to form a significant part of the entry. In the UK, the BDA Classic Championship will be at Aldeburgh Yacht Club on 22nd to 23rd June, within the Aldeburgh YC Dragon Open Meeting. The Aldeburgh Regatta, 18th to 23rd August, and the Scottish Championship at Royal Forth YC on 28th and 29th September should both have significant Classic participation from local boats and would love to welcome visitors. Cowes Classic Week (8th to 12th July) and Hamble Classics(31st August to 1st September) should also provide a Dragon class start if there is demand.

Further afield the 6th International Dragon Classics will be held at the Union Yacht Club, Wolfgangsee in Austria on 14th to 18th July. The Douarnenez Classics Regatta will be from 23rd to 25th August and there is a Classic Regatta in Hamburg on the Alster on 1st and 2nd June. I would expect the Wolfgangsee event to attract between 15 and 20 boats. I’m less sure about the other two and would be inclined to contact Fred Gourlaouen in Douarnenez, himself a Classic owner, or the German Dragon class for more information before making any definitive commitments. I am enquiring to find out whether there are any plans to repeat either the Flensburg regatta or the San Remo one of last year.

Boats: Some boats have changed hands. Skal (DGBR248) has gone to a good home in Holland. Penguin (DGBR301) is in the process of taking in a joint owner. Felix Bowers, to join Tim Street. Nick China has bought Maj-Britt (DDEN175) a 1963 Pedersen and Thuesen boat originally sailed by Axel Holm. She will now be restored to her former self in Hamble, alongside Dragonfly (DGBR453).

There are several boats for sale at a wide spread of prices from “Free to a good home” to fully reflecting a full-scale renovation. At one end of this is Nereus (DGBR398) a former Edinburgh Cup winner, which is at Larkman’s Boatyard in Melton, Suffolk. A certain amount of renovation has already been done but more remains and illness has intervened. On the other Crispin Blyth has fully restored Carronade (DGBR461) a 1971 Borresen boat and she is ready to race and should be fully competitive at any level. In between are boats such as Logie (DGBR339)a Nunn boat built in 1960, Wanderer (DHK6)1968 Tschuss (DGBR457) both Borresen 1968 and 1971 respectively and Sturmwind (DGER117) a recent discovery in Hampshire built by Abeking and Rasmussen in 1951. All these should be capable of being put in commission with relatively little difficulty. There are several others but of whose condition I am less certain. Generally, I think the market is better offered than bid.

There are also some ongoing renovation projects. The ones I am aware of are Chime (DGBR380), Dragonfly, Maj-Britt, Karen II and Whirlwind (both with Joe Irving).

Records: I try to maintain two lists of Classic Dragons on the BDA website. One covers all the boats that had a British number and their ownership history, so far as is known. The other covers the boats that are currently in the UK. The latter isn’t comprehensive. Dragons regularly appear from barns where they have been for years. Others may have suffered a Viking funeral without my knowledge. I would be very grateful for any information that helps to keep these records up to date.

BDA membership: Finally a plea to anyone interested in Classic Dragons should join the BDA. Individual membership costs only £35.

– Patrick Gifford


Scottish, Classic and Vintage Dragon Combined Championships 2023

The Royal Forth Yacht Club welcomed three well-travelled visitors, Basilisk, Ran and Monica to Edinburgh for a combined Scottish as well as the BDA Classic and Vintage Dragon Championship.

They were launched, on Friday 6th October, in warm but blustery SW winds and clear skies and joined local boats Meteor, Kestra, Wizz Too and Kismet. Saturday morning saw us bracing ourselves against a very brisk NE wind and the Firth of Forth had developed big rolling waves overnight. The temperature had halved and there was steady rain failing. There were very welcome bacon and egg rolls and a good strong cup of coffee in the clubhouse as our briefing suggested we might enjoy up to 4 races in the conditions.

Departing the safety of the pontoons the fleet headed out to the racing circle of marks to the NW of the harbour. Monica, fresh from her renovation was still fitting out and had last been on the water 25 years earlier. She returned to harbour quite quickly after discovering she was not quite ready for such a shake down. Kismet , also decided to return to the pontoon as the conditions were worsening, wind was against tide and gusts were exceeding 25 knots. The five remaining Dragons started with Meteor a little premature. Kestra was leading at the windward mark. Meteor bravely flew their spinnaker but with the big waves for the gybe it left crew member Marina dancing around the foredeck holding onto the disconnected pole and not much more.

The wind strength was increasing and the race committee decided to shorten. Richard Leask in Kestra chose this point, close to finishing, to fall overboard in a large gust. Crew members Willie Adams and Donald Milne had both deflated their lifejackets earlier in the race as they had both activated accidently in the rough sea conditions and then in the downwind spray. In attempting to recover Richard the boat took in an unsustainable amount of water and was barely afloat. The club RIB was able to get close and the mast had a fender attached as Kestra slowly sank. The crew were all returned safely to showers ashore and all subsequent racing was abandoned.

Ran returned to the harbour without finishing as the main outhaul fitting had fractured leaving the main no longer attached to the boom and the genoa window had also split.

Three Dragons managed to finish with Basilisk leading the way with Mike Hayles on the helm. Meteor and Wizz Too claimed a place. We were all ashore early and able to eat our lunch in comfort with lots to talk about. We re-convened in the evening as planned for a plate of warming chilli served up by the Dragon team of helpers. Helen led the way on her guitar for the evening entertainment.

Day Two

Sunday, was a day of complete contrast, although mostly in wind strength as it was neither completely dry or warm. There was a good SE wind to start the fleet and the windward and leeward marks were reached with close racing between Ran and Meteor for the lead. Basilisk had returned after the start and was making good progress as the winds got lighter towards the end of the second beat. The downwind leg against the tide and a dying breeze led to the use of strategic anchoring and the race committee used the ‘Whiskey’ finish procedure allowing Basilisk to take a third place with Meteor second to Ran. The boats were towed back towards the harbour and whilst a zephyr of breeze from the west gave us hope of further racing it was abandoned early in the afternoon. This allowed rapid craning and packing up of the boats.

Writing this a day later, of course, we woke to blue skies, great visibility, 17 degrees, flat seas and a gentle but steady westerly. A good day for trying to recover Kestra though.

Results Classic & Vintage

Classic Championship winner – Meteor Pete Cooke, Peter Nicholas, Marina Lefort and Tovar Mirsky. Vintage Championship winner – Basilisk Mike Hayles, Julian Brooke Houghton, Philip Catmur

Results Scottish Championships

3rd – Wizz Too Helen Horsfall, David Cowan, Hollie Bartley

2nd (again this year on equal points with the winner) and winner of the Classic Quaich Meteor Pete Cooke, Peter Nicholas, Marina Lefort and Tovar Mirsky.

1st and winner of the Race 1 Quaich, the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Corinthian Quaich, the Vintage Quaich, the Scottish Dragon Trophy and Mirage Cup Basilisk Mike Hayles, Julian Brooke Houghton, Philip Catmur

Mike thanked all the volunteers on and off the water and made special mention of the kitchen team of Helen ( Wizz Too) and Sheena ( Kismet) who kept us in food all weekend both morning and evening.

Lessons learned, look for a weekend earlier in the year, consider a three-day event, pray to the weather gods, check when the chef has a clashing event, and don’t use a knife to deflate your automatic lifejacket, especially if still racing. We all agreed it was memorable! Hope to see you in Edinburgh next year.

by Cathy Ogden