Dragon South Coast, Classics and Vintage Championships 2021

UK Dragon South Coast Championships, Cowes June 11-13th

The Royal London Yacht Club hosted the UK Dragon South Coast, Classic & Vintage Championship over three perfect sailing days on the famous Solent, June 11th to 13th.

International Race Officer Gill Smith, supported by Bob Milner set super courses in a variety of wind and tidal conditions, testing the 11 competitive teams local knowledge and tactical awareness throughout the nine race series. This was the first official BDA event of the 2021 season and it was great to see Mike Hayles (GBR 764) and Patrick Gifford (GBR 515) travel south from their club in Aldeburgh, on the east coast of England, to support the event.  

As Covid restrictions ease across the UK we hope more Dragon teams will travel to other regatta’s, in particular the Edinburgh Cup (31st August – 3rd Sept) on the Forth in Edinburgh, to pay respect to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Bluebottle as it races once again under the skilful guidance of Graham & Julia Bailey. It would be nice if different fleets made the effort to support various events and rebuild numbers after such a difficult time during the pandemic.

The Championship was deservedly won by Tom Vernon helming GBR 810 Badger, crewed by Adam Bowers and Ollie Spensley-Corfield. This well drilled team won four of the nine races, were usually in the right place at the right time and showed consistent speed throughout the changing conditions. Tom and his team will certainly be one of the favourites for the Edinburgh Cup up in Scotland later this year and many congratulations to the “Badger” team.

In 2nd place overall was GBR 791 Christiana now owned by Michael Wilson, but helmed on this occasion by Martin Payne, crewed by Chris Brittain & Gilly. Christiana was originally owned by Olaf Sorensen from Cork, before moving over to the Isle of Wight and winning Cowes Week when sold to Oliver Morgan and his wife Francesca a few years ago. Michael Wilson is the third owner of this well presented and successful Petticrows Dragon and the Cowes Fleet were pleased to see the boat remain on the Island.

3rd overall (just losing out on count-back) was Solent Legend Eric Williams helming GBR 682 Estatic crewed by Rory Paton (X One Design Champion) and Katie Cole from Burnham, now UK Petticrows after the successful company was sold and relocated to Portugal. Eric epitomises everything good about the Dragon Class, fair and extremely competitive sailing, willing to share his experience and thoughts after racing and a perfect gentleman on and off the water. He has won numerous championships in a variety of classes and knows the solent like the back of his hand, with Rory and Katie onboard, the smiles are infectious and their ability extremely respected.

Top Corinthian Team and 4th overall was GBR 763 Bertie helmed by Simon Barter, crewed by his son James and Donald Wilkes.  Simon and team Bertie won the final race of the championship in style, playing the centre of the course in adverse tide, whilst the fleet split 50/50 to each side.  As BDA Chairman Simon hopes many GBR boats will support the Edinburgh Cup to make it a special event, respecting the recent passing of the Duke of Edinburgh and witness Bluebottle race on the Firth of Forth once again after its amazing restoration by local boatbuilder David Heritage.

Eleven Dragons in total were out on the Solent enjoying the wonderful racing conditions including several Classic and Vintage Dragons. Patrick Giffords Basilisk took the Vintage Dragon trophy and the Classics were won by GBR39 Aurora Adrian Green.

This was an extremely well organised event sailed in the most perfect conditions. Competitors enjoyed a lovely supper on Saturday evening (following Covid guidelines), at this wonderfully located Yacht Club overlooking the Medina River, resulting in a few slightly sore heads in the morning.

On behalf of all competitors, thanks go to Gill Smith and her team of volunteers on Gemini Breeze for making it such an amazing Championship and many congratulations once again to Tom and his GBR 810 team.   

by Stavros

Overall Full Results

1 GBR810 Badger Tom Vernon
2 GBR791 Christiana Michael Wilson
3 GBR682 Ecstatic Eric Williams
4 GBR763 Bertie Simon Barter
5 GBR761 Jerboa Gavia Wilkinson-Cox
6 GBR777 Furious Owen Pay
7 GBR764 Naiad Mike Hayles
8 GBR515 Basilisk Patrick Gifford
9 GBR829 Electra Superglide Cian OCarrol
10 367/754 Fanfare Michael Issaias
11 GBR39 Aurora Adrian Green

Vintage Winner

GBR515 Basilisk Patrick Gifford

Classics Winner

GBR39 Aurora Adrian Green


The British Dragon Association Welcomes A Historic Entry to this Year’s Edinburgh Cup

The beloved keelboat of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh Bluebottle has undergone a momentous restoration and a road trip to now complete the Royal fleet in Edinburgh. On completion of the full restoration of this iconic racing yacht in Cowes, Bluebottle has become the very first entry to this year’s British Dragon Association (BDA) Edinburgh Cup, national championships.

Built by Camper and Nicholson in 1947, Bluebottle was presented to Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Prince Philip as a wedding present by the Island Sailing Club, Isle of Wight. In 1956 Bluebottle was loaned to the British sailing team competing at the Melbourne Olympics, with Lt Cdr Graham Mann at the helm, winning a Bronze Medal, the only British Dragon to have done so.

Simon Barter, BDA Chairman commented: “We are delighted that Bluebottle has been expertly restored to full racing trim and will be competing in the prestigious Edinburgh Cup. The Edinburgh Cup was presented to the Dragon class by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, for whom Bluebottle was built and in which he raced on many occasions.”

Bluebottle – Restored racing yacht arrives at Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith May 2021. (L to R) Chief Executive Bob Downie, Julia Bailey, Graham Bailey, Chairman Neil Rankin, David Heritage, Charles Morton, Cathy Ogden.
©Helen Pugh Photography

“Bluebottle will be sailed in this year’s Edinburgh Cup by the very expert husband and wife team of Graham and Julia Bailey who have each won the Edinburgh Cup, the National Championship of the British Dragon Class.”

Julia and Graham, race regularly both home and internationally and have won four Edinburgh Cups between them in recent years. “We are all thrilled and honoured to be racing this most iconic of all Dragons in the Edinburgh Cup. At 74 years old, Bluebottle may be older than The Royal Yacht Britannia, but following the expert restoration with some modern upgrades from David Heritage, we are keen to see how she goes in competition and will give it our all in memory of the late The Duke of Edinburgh.”

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip’s three Royal sailing yachts together for the first time in 58 years.

David Heritage of David Heritage Racing Yachts, “It was a great honour to undertake the challenge of re-building such an iconic and famous racing yacht, and with the use of modern boat building techniques, bring her back to full racing condition. It was also an honour to know that The Duke of Edinburgh was able to see photographs as the re-build progressed, but equally sad that he was unable to see the finished boat”.

The Royal Yacht Britannia’s charitable trust is proudly welcoming the third and final Royal sailing yacht, Bluebottle, to join its historic fleet in Edinburgh, following an eighteen-month restoration undertaken by David Heritage Racing Yachts, Isle of Wight.

Bluebottle – Graham and Julia Bailey, May 2021.
©Helen Pugh Photography

The Royal Yacht Britannia’s Chief Executive Bob Downie: “To finally have all three beautiful royal sailing yachts on public display alongside Britannia completes a historic maritime jigsaw we started 12 years ago, and I am sure our visitors will be as delighted as we are to see all The Duke of Edinburgh’s much loved sailing yachts united once more. We also look forward to Bluebottle once again sailing in the company of other Dragon Class yachts, both here in the River Forth and at regattas elsewhere in the UK.”

International Dragon Bluebottle (DK 192) will join the Flying Fifteen sailboat Coweslip (designed and built by the legendary Uffa Fox), and the classic 63ft ocean racing yacht Bloodhound, all three of which were formerly owned and much-loved by the late The Duke of Edinburgh, and on which both The Prince of Wales, and The Princess Royal learned to sail.

Bluebottle arriving in Edinburgh is the final part of a longstanding ambition by The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust to reunite the three historic vessels, and visitors to The Royal Yacht Britannia can see the full Royal sailing fleet on display at the one location for the first time in history.

Bluebottle – Restored racing yacht arrives at Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith May 2021.
©Helen Pugh Photography

Bluebottle will be on the starting line for this years Edinburgh Cup in Edinburgh hosted by the Royal Forth Yacht Club. Find out more about the British Dragon Nationals and the Edinburgh event here >