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