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MIKE WILLIAMSON 1932 – 2020

We are sad to pass on that Mike died on Tuesday 3 November 2020.

Mike was born in 1932 and it was in the early 60s that he entered into Dragon sailing, crewing for Nicky Streeter in his newly launched Sandpiper for the 1966 Poole Bay Olympic training week – they won all six races! Writing at the time Yachting World reported; ‘New Names at the top. The success of the week – and the surprise – was the performance of Nicholas Streeter and his new Pedersen and Theusen ‘Sandpiper’ crewed by Mike Williamson and Graham King’.

This was the start of what was to become a long-standing Dragon partnership over the next 35 years, during which no less than nine Dragons, (nearly all ‘Sandpiper’s), earned them more than a fair share of successes which included winning the prestigious Edinburgh Cup twice, as well as a number of International regatta successes including 2nd at the Gold Cup and 6th at the Worlds of 1973, and a well-deserved entry into Dragon history!

Mike was Honorary Secretary of the International Dragon Association from 1997 to 2001 and was the last to serve in this unpaid role. He was an efficient and dedicated administrator and with his legal background he made a significant contribution to many aspects of the IDA including updating the Sailing Instructions for major events, the Regatta Guidelines, and the IDA Constitution. He travelled far and wide to regattas around the World and was always willing and able to give advice and support to the National Associations with whom he maintained regular contact. Mike was Vice Chairman in 2001/2.

As well as always crewing for Nicky, when time permitted, Mike also enthusiastically sailed his Sunbeam in Itchenor (always saying it was the only opportunity he had to helm!).

The partnership ‘retired’ from Dragon ownership in early 2000 but not to be deterred borrowed ‘Jerboa’ to compete in the International Dragon Class 75th Anniversary Regatta in 2003 in St Tropez.

Gavia recalls; it is thanks to Mike and Nicky not only that I had years of fun crewing for them, but that my love of sailing the international Dragon circuit was born. In lending Jerboa to Mike and Nicky, and once again crewing for them, at the 75th, I was invited to take Jerboa to the Yacht Club de Cannes for the forthcoming winter series. I asked Mike if he would ‘mind’ driving Jerboa to Cannes, as against back to UK. Mike obliged, we drove to Cannes, left the boat – and the rest as they say is history! I now (well not in 2020!) regularly enjoy a busy international sailing schedule.

Stavros recalls; there was an occasion, some 20 years ago, that he called upon Mike’s crewing expertise to help him crew for an inexperienced Spanish helm at a regatta in Cascais. Typical Cascais huge winds, huge gusts and huge rolling seas! Following a spectacularly bad drop Mike, as bowman, found himself stuffing remains of spinnaker into the chute whilst hanging off the forestay ‘hanging on like a cat’ Stavros reports!. Returning into the cockpit Mike took to pumping – and in response to Stavros asking why he was facing aft, they both agreed they were too scared to look ahead at the surf!

Mike never lost his interest in the Dragon class. He closely followed the fortunes of the class both on and off the water, nationally and internationally. Up until a couple of years ago he regularly attended Cowes Week never missing the Dragon class socials as well as the annual dinner in London.

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Sad Passing of Roger Dawe

It is with deep sadness that we pass on the information that Roger Dawe sadly passed away last week.

Roger was Medway Dragon Fleet and Class Captain from 1980-81 and was a great supporter of the Medway Dragon Fleet.

Friend and fellow Dragon sailor Mike Gagg has written a tribute piece to Roger and Royalist.

A 48 year apprenticeship with Roger and Royalist

My first sighting of Royalist was when she was hidden in one of our barns in 1972 when apparently she was still suffering from some financial maladies inherited from her previous owners.

As a young boy still at primary school the sight of this beautiful piece of sculptural floating artwork left me in awe. The only large red things in my life up to that point were Massey Ferguson tractors.

At the time, Roger and Jo were living in a house called Rats Castle, which is at the end of our lane and I would often see Roger burble past in his latest Range Rover. A few years on Roger and Jo moved away with their growing family.

I finally stopped wearing short trousers and eventually finished school, a degree course and extensive world travels when our paths crossed again.
Roger was kind enough, or desperate enough, to ask me to crew. Although I had a lot of dinghy experience and some blue water cruising, I had no keel boat racing knowledge at all. A baptism of fire.

This was in the era of the beginning of the end of wooden boats. Most were not built as Royalist was. ‘Floating furniture’ was our phrase, such was the quality of the joinery, she really was a thing of rare beauty.

We had our successes and failures over the years. Eventually, the fibreglass boats and their many innovations made it harder for us to compete. We however found new satisfaction in generally winding other members of the class up, on and off, but mainly on the water. The protest flag became our flag of choice.

There were ridiculous luffing matches, spinnaker reaches when everyone else was using a genoa, some spectacular broaches, there were also stern words but above all, much laughter.

Roger and Jo, their kindness and generosity opened a door for me to have the opportunities to sail dragons all over Europe. Something I would certainly not have done if it were not for them. I cherish all those memories, but more so, the time I spent with Roger as one of his crew.

There were cuts, bruises and exhaustive practices at scrubbing, polishing her winches and rowing out and back from the pontoon, something he assured me I’d never perfected to his satisfaction, although demonstrations of how were few and far between.

There were moments of almost poetic beauty with her ghosting through sunlit mirrored waters in complete silence with just the sound of the water passing under, no fibre glass boat ever sailed or made the noises that Royalist did.

For a while we drifted apart, due to the interventions of marriage and family. Roger and Jo were always there and the occasional trip down memory lane on a Saturday sail, plus the last East Coast Championships on the Medway were journeys I will cherish forever.

It became apparent that Roger was beginning to feel it was time that Royalist found a new custodian and after many false starts she now resides in Germany. This is somewhat fitting as she last sailed there in Munich in 1972.

Roger, as I did, felt a huge responsibility to see her safely committed to someone who would cherish and lavish the attention she needs and deserves. She has fortunately found that home and this I know was a huge relief to Roger.

I will miss him and our times at the MYC very much.
Thank you all, everyone on and off the water who gave us such memories, too many to recount here.

The biggest thank you is to Roger, Jo and their family.
Roger is sailing with the stars now, no doubt “kite up”, pole trimmed forward, main eased down the track and kicker in hand with a smile on his face.

I wish him fair winds and blue skies always.
– Mike Gagg