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