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The Dragon Edinburgh Cup 2016 came to a spectacular conclusion off Abersoch as the 35 strong fleet enjoyed one finalrace in glorious sunshine, big waves and a brisk west-south-westerly of 18-22 knots. Going into the day the only way that second placed Grant Gordon, Kasper Harsberg and Ruihrihd Scott sailing GBR780 Louise could overtake leader Lawrie Smith sailing GBR801 Alfie with Joost Houweling and Adam Bowers was to finish first and hope that Smith finished seventh or worse. Meanwhile Mike Budd, Jeremy Entwistle and Mark Greeves in GBR793 Harry needed to win the race and have Gordon finish seventh or worse to enable them to move up into second.

Two Royal St. George boats were in the top five, Martin Byrne, a previous winner, finished fourth and Neil Hegarty was fifth.

Smith, Houweling and Bowers are three of the most skilled and experienced sailors you could hope to see in a Dragon and if you ever wanted a lesson in how to win a championship this was the day to be spectating. As soon as Race Officer Malcolm Blackburn had the fleet under starters orders is was clear that Smith had no intention of letting his rival out of his sights. "We knew what we had to do and that's what we focused on. Starting in the right place or going the right way up the first beat weren't important, just that we kept Grant under control." Explained Joost Houweling after racing. And keep him under control they did with masterful poise through the prestart and up the first beat. At the first mark Neil Hegarty sailing IRL176 Phantom with David Williams and Peter Bowring led Mike Budd off down the run, whilst Smith and Gordon were buried well down into the pack.

Smith kept Gordon right where he wanted him on the first run and having ensured he had neutralised the threat Smith let loose and began to make places up through the fleet, leaving Gordon trailing in his wake. It's a sheer joy to watch a great sailors put Dragons through their paces upwind and as the breeze built on the final leg the spectators got to enjoy some textbook big wave sailing. Smith continued to pick off boats all the way up the leg, while Budd, conscious that Gordon was well down the fleet, put all his energies into getting past Hegarty to win the race. On the line Hegarty just managed to hold off Budd for line honours, James Peters, David Cummings and James Dawson aboard GBR662 Yeah Baby took third and Smith snuck in for fourth, a gnat's whisker ahead of Mark Dicker, Selina Dicker and James Campbell in GBR610 Rackham and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, Mark Hart and Tim Tavinor in GBR761 Jerboa.

With the final points calculated Lawrie Smith, Joost Houweling and Adam Bowers were declared the Edinburgh Cup 2016 Champions by an eight-point margin - the second time that Lawrie has won this historic trophy. The fight for second went to countback with Gordon and Budd counting 17 points apiece and Gordon just pipping Budd for the second step on the podium.

Whilst Mike Budd, Jeremy Entwistle and Mark Greeves were disappointed not to have taken second overall, they were none the less delighted to have won the Corinthian Dragon Edinburgh Cup Trophy by five points from Mark Dicker. Third place in the Corinthians came down to another tie breaker with Neil Hegarty and Rob Campbell both on 16 points, a single point behind Dicker, and Hegarty taking third on countback.

As well as second Corinthian, Mark Dicker, sister Selina Dicker and cousin James Campbell also won the Vintage Division Trophy for boats built at least 20 years ago. The Dragons have always had a reputation for outstanding build quality and this can be clearly seen in the number of older boats that have performed well this week. Second place in the Vintage Division went to GBR746 Beauty & The Beast, helmed by Peter Marchant with Katie Cole and Andy Biddle, while GBR655 Phormerly Phantom helmed by Chris Thomas and crewed by Selina Thomas and George Bird-Jones came third.

Despite the occasional lack of sunshine, the Dragons have enjoyed both outstanding racing and truly exceptional hospitality this week in Abersoch. Special thanks must go to Race Officer Malcolm Blackburn and his team who did an excellent job of completing all six championship races in what were often very tricky conditions. The Abersoch Dragon Fleet and the team at South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club have pulled out all the stops to make the fleet welcome and to organise an outstanding championship. At the Prize Giving Gala Dinner British Dragon Association Chairman Tim Wilkes paid tribute to the dozens of volunteers who have given up so much of their time to make this event possible and particularly thanked Abersoch Dragon Fleet Captain Rob Riddell for his work not only on this regatta, but in creating a 21 strong club fleet at Abersoch from scratch in less than 10 years. He also thanked the club's administrative and hospitality staff for keeping the fleet organised, fed and watered in incomparable style.

In his Edinburgh Cup acceptance speech Lawrie Smith, a man not normally known for his verbosity at prize givings, not only thanked the organisers, but confirmed that the support and assistance extended to the competitors at this event and the standard of race management he had seen during the week were some of the best he has ever seen and that he would be delighted to compete in any regatta organised by the club. He also thanked his crew and his fellow competitors, particularly Grant Gordon and the Louise team, for the outstanding racing.

Full results here

The 2017 Dragon Edinburgh Cup will be raced from Cowes and will run concurrently with Panerai British Classic Week from 8 to 15 July 2017.

Published in Dragon

Three boats sailing under Irish yacht club burgees are in the top six of the 2016 Dragon Edinburgh Cup that concludes in Wales today.

British sailor Lawrie Smith's Glandore Harbour Yacht Club entry continues to lead the event after five races, Royal St. George's Martin Byrne is fourth and sixth is yesterday's race winner, and Byrne's club–mate, Neil Hegarty.

The 18-20 knot south-westerly kicked up quite a swell against the ebbing tide, creating an upwind dilemma for the tacticians who had to decide between sailing in the relatively flat water on the right hand side of the course or heading left out into the faster current but much bigger seas. Another dilemma for everyone was finding the marks as the visibility was so poor that at times you couldn't even see the rest of the fleet, never mind either end of the course.

Revelling in the conditions was Neil Hegarty sailing IRL176 Phantom with Peter Bowring and David Williams. After a rather slow start to their regatta this very experienced trio found their form today and despite constant pressure from the chasing fleet sailed a superb race. Asked what gave them the jump Neil said; "We won the pin. We thought that the tide was ebbing so going out left would be best, plus we had some space down there and clear wind."

It was an extremely close race and following Hegarty across the line for second was overnight leader Lawrie Smith, sailing GBR801 Alfie with Joost Houweling and Adam Bowers. Mike Budd, Jez Entwistle and Mark Greeves sailing GBR793 Harry took third with Grant Gordon, Ruairidh Scott and Kasper Harsberg in GBR8780 Louise fourth and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, Mark Hart and Tim Tavinor in GBR761 Jerboa fifth.

In the overall standings Smith now leads by three points from Gordon but his lead is not unassailable and if Gordon wins tomorrow's race Smith must finish sixth or above to claim overall victory. Budd goes into the final day in third place, 8 points off the leader, putting victory out of reach but leaving the door open for move up to second. Martin Byrne, sailing IRL 201 Jaguar with Adam Winklemann and Donal Small, is also still in with a chance of a place on the podium so it's going to be an exciting finale tomorrow.

The Corinthian Division for all amateur crews will also be decided on the final race with Mike Budd currently leading the fleet by two points from Rob Campbell, sailing GBR788 Quicksilver VI with Paul Fletcher and Luke Malissa. Mark Dicker sailing GBR610 Rackham with Selina Dicker and James Campbell is one further point back in third, while today's race win puts Neil Hegarty firmly in contention for a Corinthian podium finish too.

Mark Dicker and Rackham are also leading the Vintage Class for boats more than 20 years old. He has a four-point lead over second placed Peter Marchant who is sailing GBR746 Beauty & The Beast with partner Katie Cole and Andy Biddle, while third in the Vintage class is GBR655 Phormerly Phanton sailed by Chris and Selina Thomas and George Bind-Jones.

The regatta concludes today, Friday 5 June, with a final championship race starting at 11.00. There is a last start cut off time of 12.00, but with the weather forecast promising 15 to 20 knots from the west-south-west the race committee should have no problem getting them underway in time.

Full results are here

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Irish national Dragon champion Neil Hegarty in Phantom was best of the Irish on Day two of the Edinburgh Cup in Abersoch.

Neil Hegarty, David Williams and Peter Bowring from the Royal St George YC had a 2nd & 8th today at the Edinburgh Cup on Day 2 of the Edinburgh Cup. They move up to 15th overall in the 36 boat fleet after a difficult day yesterday.

Martin Byrne's Jaguar Sailing Team drop one place to 3rd overall after a 12th and 5th today. While leading the second race this afternoon they were forced to take a penalty turn when they fouled Grant Gordon after being caught at the top of the 2nd beat.

Nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the 35 strong International Dragon fleet as they fought it out in two further Dragon British Open Championship races, races three and four of the series.

The forecast had promised a south-westerly building from the low teens up towards 20 knots, but what actually materialised was a gradually decreasing breeze which kicked off the day at around 16-18 knots and ended up at barely 10 knots. Once again it was extremely shifty with constant changes in velocity giving the tacticians and trimmers plenty to think about. The tide also played a greater role today, both in terms of the starts where boats were being pushed over the line and tactically as the tide made the runs somewhat one sided.

With four of the six scheduled races now completed the overall standings are shaping up, however, the single discard won't come into force until race five has been sailed so there is still all to play for between now and Friday's last race.

Overnight leader Lawrie Smith sailing GBR801 Alfie with Joost Houweling and Adam Bowers added another win and a fourth to their scorecard and now leads the regatta by four points from Grant Gordon sailing GBR780 Louise with Kasper Harsberg and Ruairidh Scott, who finished third and second in today's races to move up from third. The points separation may be deceptive though as Gordon's worst score is a seventh while Smith's is a fourth.

Local hero Mike Budd, sailing GBR793 Harry with Jeremy Entwistle and Mark Greeves, made full use of his local knowledge to sail himself up the fleet from yesterday's eighth overall into third and leading Corinthian, thanks to a fifth in race three and an impressive win in race four putting him on 22 points total.

Martin Byrne sailing IRL201 Jaguar with Adam Winkelmann and Donal Small went into the day in second, but had something of a shocker in race three, finish twelfth after a disappointing start. He came back again in race four and held second until the top of the second beat when he approached on port and attempted to tack into the mark in front of Gordon. It was a marginal call and with Gordon's crew loudly hailing their objections Byrne decided to take his turns and not risk a protest. He went on to finish the race in fifth which puts him level pegging with Budd on 22 points, although Budd has the slightly better discard of a 10th versus Byrne's 12th.

Overnight Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, sailing GBR761 Jerboa with Mark Hart and Tim Tavinor, had held fourth place just ahead of Rob Campbell sailing GBR788 Quicksilver VI with Luke Mallisa and Paul Fletcher, who also led the all amateur Corinthian Division. Sadly, both crews found themselves disqualified under the black flag in race three which took the race committee three attempts to start thanks to the tide pushing the fleet over the line. In total some half dozen boats had to sit out the race and watch their championship hopes fade. Campbell went on to finish seventh in race four and Wilkinson-Cox twelfth, which drops them down to eleventh and thirteenth respectively in the overall ranking.

Oliver Morgan sailing GBR791 Christianna with his wife Francesca and Nigel Young rounds out tonight's top five having moved up to the leader board from seventh, largely thanks to a third place in race four having crossed the line in fourteenth in race three, their worst result of the series.

Chasing Mike Budd for the Corinthian Edinburgh Cup title is Mark Dicker sailing GBR610 Rackham with sister Selina Dicker and James Campbell, who also leads the Classic Division for Dragons built 20 or more years ago. A seventh and sixth in today's races also put Dicker into sixth place overall, just a single point behind Morgan. Tonight's Corinthian top five is completed by Rob Campbell in third, Simon and James Barter and Donald Wilkes sailing GBR763 Bertie in fourth and Rob Riddell, Simon Cash and Georgina Dewar sailing GBR622 Merlin in fifth.

The regatta continues until Friday with two further championship races still to be sailed. Tomorrow the schedule calls for a single championship race, plus the legendary Dragon Edinburgh Cup Crews' Race in which the competition is at least as fierce as the main regatta. The forecast indicates the fleet can expect rain and strong south-westerlies of 18 to 28 knots so we can only hope that it proves to be as inaccurate as today's was!

This evening the crews are enjoying a delightful Champagne and Canapes Party hosted by the Abersoch Dragon Fleet. The evening will feature not only lots of lovely bubbly and fabulous canapes, hand made by the members of South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club, but also some fun fundraising activities in support of Parkinson's Disease research, a cause very close to the fleet's heart as member Neil Lamont is currently fighting the disease

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Martin Byrne's Jaguar Sailing Team frm the Royal St. George Yacht Club had a second and third in the first day of racing at the Dragon Edinburgh Cup in Abersoch today. 

Byrne, together with crew Adam Winkelmann and Donal Small, lie in second overall, just one point behind former World Champion, Lawrie Smith, who finished first & third today at this early stage of the championship.

As Afloat.ie reported previously, five Irish Dragons are competing in the 36–boat fleet. Clare Hogan had a fourth place in Race two. Irish Dragon Champion, Neil Hegarty, was disappointed to be scored OCS in the same race following a 17th in Race one.

Racing continues until Friday with lighter conditions forecast for tomorrow.

Additional reporting from Fiona Brown:

The 2016 Dragon Edinburgh Cup, supported by Gwynedd Council and the 'Wales 2016 Year of Adventure - Snowdonia Mountains & Coast', got off to a fantastic start in Abersoch with two races in a 12-18 knot northerly wind and plenty of sunshine. The South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club's race committee did an excellent job with the courses in the shifty offshore breeze and the 35 strong fleet made the most of the opportunity for some great racing.

With two of the six scheduled races completed Lawrie Smith's first and third put him into a single point lead over Martin Byrne with Grant Gordon three further points back in third place. Gavia Wilkinson-Cox finished race two in ninth and lies in fourth place, one point ahead of Rob Campbell who leads the Corinthian Division as well as lying fifth overall, and two points ahead of Paddy Atkinson. The top ten is rounded out by Oliver Morgan seventh, Mike Budd eighth, Mark Dicker ninth and Clare Hogan tenth.

Paddy Atkinson and Seafire's performance is particularly rewarding for owner Neil Lamont who is not able to race this week. Neil suffers from Parkinson's Disease which currently prevents him from sailing and so he is using the event to promote awareness of and raise funds for Parkinson's research. Neil has donated a stunning Charles Bell original watercolour of Dragons sailing in Abersoch Bay which will be auctioned at the Edinburgh Cup Prize Giving Dinner on Friday, and at Wednesday evening's Champagne and Canapes Party there will be a raffle for a Nebuchadnezzar of Tattinger Champagne with all proceeds going to Parkinson's Disease research.

Racing continues until Friday 8 July with a total of six races scheduled and a single discard coming into play after the fourth race is completed. Two races are planned for Wednesday when the wind is expected to swing into the south-west and to build from around 12 knots at the start of the first race to the mid-teens with gusts up into the low twenties by late afternoon. 

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Lawrie Smith has claimed the Dragon Northern Championship 2016 by narrowest of margins as Simon Barter wins Corinthian Northern Championship (download results below) as teams now prepare for the International Dragon Edinburgh Cup 2016. Five Irish Dragons will compete in the Cup.

Thirty-two teams from across the UK and Ireland enjoyed two days of hard fought racing from the South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club in Abersoch to decide the winner of the 2016 Dragon UK Northern Area Championship on 3 and 4 July. Despite a slight delay to allow the wind to settle on day one, the race committee was able to complete all six of the scheduled windward leeward races and the fleet enjoyed a true mix of conditions with day one offering champagne sailing conditions in warm sunshine and an 8-10 knot southerly, while day two brought leaden skies, plenty of rain and winds gusting up towards 25 knots.

With the event also acting as a warm up for the Dragon Edinburgh Cup supported by Gwynedd Council through the '2016 Wales Year of Adventure - Snowdonia Mountain & Coast' (for the Dragon British Open Championship), which runs from 5 to 8 June, the quality of the fleet was exceptionally high and ultimately racing was so close that the championship could only be decided on count-back.

Going into the final race Grant Gordon, sailing GBR780 Louise with Kasper Harsberg and Ruairidh Scott, held a two-point lead over Lawrie Smith in GBR801 Alfie with Joost Houweling and Adam Bowers. Although Smith led the race from the first mark, Gordon was right on his tail all the way round the course. On the line it was Smith first home but behind him Gordon came to the line neck and neck with Simon Barter, sailing GBR763 Bertie with James Barter and Donald Wilkes. In the closing moments Barter just managed to get his nose in front of Gordon's forcing him down into third place and giving Smith overall victory.

Third overall went to Mark Dicker, sailing GBR610 Rackham with sister Selina Dicker and James Campbell. Dicker had shone in the relative light airs of the opening day and led the regatta overnight, but day two's strong winds saw him struggle a little so he had to be content with third overall. Fourth place was filled by Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, helming GBR761 Jerboa with Mark Hart and Tim Tavinor.

Simon Barter's second place in the final race pushed him up into sixth in the overall standings and also ensured he won the right to have his name engraved on the Norther Championship Corinthian Trophy for all amateur crews.

At the Northern Championship Prize Giving Dinner Lawrie Smith was fulsome in his praise for the South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club's race management team and for his fellow competitors. He also looked forward to the Edinburgh Cup supported by Gwynedd Council's '2016 Wales Year of Adventure - Snowdonia Mountain & Coast', which gets underway on Tuesday 5 June and runs until Friday 8 June, and which will see the fleet grow to 35 boats for what promises to be another excellent championship. Fortunately, the sun is forecast to return for the start of the Edinburgh Cup and the wind is expected to swing to the north west and moderate back to the low to mid-teens so more champagne sailing is on the cards. A total of six races, plus the traditional Edinburgh Cup Crews Race, are scheduled and the on the water programme will be matched by some outstanding Welsh hospitality apres sailing too.

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The Edinburgh Cup, UK Dragon National Championships, takes place just across the Irish Sea in Abersoch next week where an international fleet of 35 Dragons begin racing on Tuesday.

Five Irish Dragon teams have travelled to compete in the historic event which dates back to 1949.

Leading the Irish challenge will be current Irish National Champions, Neil Hegarty, David Williams & Peter Bowring on "Phantom". Their form continues with an early season victory at the East Coast Championships on Dublin Bay.

However Martin Byrne's "Jaguar Sailing Team" return to Abersoch, the scene of their last triumph at this event in 2011, for another attempt to regain the title. A follow up in 2012, on Belfast Lough, with a second overall was not enough to satisfy this team and they will be looking to lead an Irish challenge for this trophy again.

Two other Royal St George YC Dragon teams, lead by Tim Pearson & Clare Hogan, will enhance the Dublin Bay challenge on board "Zu" and "Cloud" respectively.

Anthony O'Neill and his south coast team are the only travellers from the Kinsale Dragon fleet but they are no strangers to Abersoch having competed there also in 2011.

However the Irish Dragons will have plenty of competition from the best of the UK's competition lead by international superstar and former Dragon World Champion Lawrie Smith who last won this event in 2013.

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Royal St George Dragons "Phantom" & 'Jaguar Sailing Team' shared equal points well ahead at the top of the leader board at this weekend's Dragon East Coast Championships hosted by the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Phantom helmed by Neil Hegarty took the overall title by virtue of their accumulation of three first place finishes. Martin Byrne & Adam Winkelmann's Jaguar scored all their results in the top three to finish second overall.

Richard Goodbody on "Diva" from the RIYC won the final race to take 3rd overall.

Martin byrne adam winklemann

Martin Byrne, Donal Small and Adam Winkelmann'sailing Dragon Jaguar were second overall

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Six races will be sailed in the waters of Dublin Bay for the Irish East Coast Dragon Championships in just over a fortnight. 

Last year, Andrew Craig's Chimaera topped a 13–boat Dragon fleet to win the East Coast Championships at the Royal St. George Yacht Club at the weekend. Second on the Dublin Bay race track was Craig's club mate Phantom skippered by Neil Hegarty with Kinsale Yacht Club's Little Fella Cameron Good third overall.  

The Royal Irish Yacht Club hosts the 2016 event that runs from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th May 2016 and will be sailed over Windward-Leeward courses. The NOR for the three man keelboat is available to download below. 

Published in Dragon

Sherry FitzGerald estate agents have come on board for a three-year-deal as title sponsor of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) ahead of the 2016 summer season that gets under way in a fortnight.

The announcement comes with changes in this year’s sailing programme for Ireland’s biggest racing club, as heard today at the launch of its 2016 yearbook in the National Yacht Club, Dún Laoghaire.

‘Be proactive with evolution rather than be reactive to revolution’ is the slogan to bear in mind as the DBSC moves to accommodate demand for speedier, lighter craft, and increasingly popular asymmetric rigs, over classes that have seen continued decline over the past five years.

One notable exception, however, is the Water Wags class, the quintessential traditional wooden boat that’s bucking the trend.

Last year, with 29 boats on the register, Water Wags are probably even more numerous than they were in their Victorian heyday. The Wags have always had an active preservation programme which – allied with a strong class ethos, or esprit de corps – helps them to grow and flourish.

As for the DBSC’s 132nd season, which begins in the last week of April, Saturdays will now have room for three keelboat fleets over previous years’ two.

This follows the committee’s decision to support a new Mixed Sportsboat class that joins the Green Fleet along with Dragons, Flying 15s, Squibs, SB20s (who previously raced on Sundays) and, on occasion, Mermaids.

The biggest change for the established Red and Blue Fleets sees Cruisers 5, formerly White Sails, move from the latter to the front of the former for Saturdays only. Both fleets will continue to race as before, alternating between MacLir and the West Pier for their starts, though courses have been revised, with the assistance of Tim Goodbody and Brian Mathews, to exclude Zebra mark.

The Green Fleet will race from the Freebird and will compete for the most part­ on windward/leeward courses. The sailing instructions provide for triangular courses and even, if the opportunity arises, for trapezoid courses in the North East quadrant to the east of Zebra mark.

On Thursdays, the Mixed Sportsboat class joins the Red Fleet, while Cruisers 5 have now been split into two divisions, with potentially different courses, to manage their varying speeds and wide spread of handicaps, and make for fairer racing. The split does not apply on Saturdays when there is less possibility of boats being timed out.

On Sundays, and inspired by the success of the DMYC’s Frostbite series during the winter months, the DBSC hopes to encourage dinghy turnouts this season with two starts: PY/IDRA 14 at 2.15pm, and Fireballs three minutes later. The club also aims to accommodate any other interested centre-board boats.

The sailing instructions and course cards have been revised to cover the above, as well as a number of changes for class flags.

In 2016’s other big news, the Royal Alfred Yacht Club (RAYC) has now officially been incorporated into DBSC. The move should not affect racing to any noticeable degree.

This year will see three designated coastal races – on May 28th, July 30th and August 12th – which will carry the ‘Alfred’ label to mark the continuation of its ethos in the DBSC programme.

In addition, the once annual RAYC Bloomsday Regatta on June 16th will now be held by the DBSC in years when there are no other waterfront club regattas.

Read also: tomorrow's WM Nixon's Sailing on Saturday Blog on DBSC's 2016 Season 

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Petticrows Ltd – builders of world class one-design racing yachts and Olympic Finn dinghies – has developed a conversion kit to comply with a rule change implemented at the International Dragon Association (IDA) Annual General Meeting in November 2015.

The rule change (rule 6.103), to restrict movement in the mast at deck level, means that owners of all Dragons (boats certified before 1 March, 2015) and that are used for racing, need to comply when the rule comes into force on 1 March, 2016, by fitting a permanent mast chock. The only boats that are already compliant are those built after 1 March, 2015.

To make the change process as quick and fuss-free as possible, British Dragon builder – Petticrows – has come up with a streamlined, simple-to-fit conversion kit. The Petticrows mast chock system is a permanent fixture designed to allow the mast to be stepped and unstepped without having to remove the chocks.

The kit, available to order now from Petticrows’ East coast, Burnham-on-Crouch base, is suitable for retro fitting to any Petticrows Dragon with an ‘I’ or ‘M’ section mast, and contains all the parts, fixings and comprehensive instructions needed to carry out the simple process.

In an effort to ensure all boats are compliant before the start of the season, Petticrows are keen to guarantee delivery before the Cannes Dragon Grand Prix (24-27 February, 2016).

Tim Tavinor – Petticrows Managing Director – commenting on the importance of a well-designed system, said: “We were very mindful of the potential large loads on the mast in strong wind and were concerned that simply ‘using a bolt’ could result in permanent damage to the masts if not fitted correctly. The system that we have designed to achieve compliance with the new class rules is simple to fit and use and can stay in place while the mast is stepped and unstepped.”

Price: £195 + VAT

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