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Nine Irish Dragons for 90th Anniversary Regatta at San Remo

23rd September 2019
Nine Irish Dragons are travelling to Italy next month Nine Irish Dragons are travelling to Italy next month Photo: Bob Bateman

Nine Irish Dragons for the 90th Anniversary Regatta at San Remo, Italy from 7th to 11th October will be led by top International performer Martin Byrne of the Royal St. George Yacht Club who was runner-up at this year's Edinburgh Cup in Wales.  

The travelling Irish contingent includes veteran Don Street from West Cork and the Royal St. George YC commodore Peter Bowring in Phantom. The full entry list is here.

The Irish boats will be part of a 160 International Dragon keelboats will gather in San Remo to mark the 90th Anniversary of this illustrious and extraordinary class. Dragon sailors past and present, friends of the class and the media are invited to participate in this week-long celebration of all things Dragon.

From her inception as an entry by Johan Anker in the Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club's 1928 competition for a new inter-islands cruiser for young people, to her current status as the world's leading three-man keelboat class, the story of the Dragon has been remarkable.

The legendary Uffa Fox recognised the class's great potential when, in 1937 he wrote "The Dragons have the qualities sought for in one-design classes. They will continue and prosper." And prosper the Dragon most certainly has with almost 1500 boats registered and racing in 31 National Associations across five continents today, and as many again cruising Dragons still bringing pleasure to leisure sailors around the world.

The Dragon's story has included selection for six Olympic Games from 1948 to 1972 and the active participation of many of the world's greatest sailors, as well as members of the Royal families of Britain, Greece, the Netherlands and Denmark. She made a successful transition from wooden construction to GRP in the early 1970s as part of her constant programme of carefully managed evolution, and with her elegant metre boat lines the Dragon is widely considered to be the most beautiful of the International One Design keelboats, as well as one of the most successful.

The 90th Anniversary Regatta will bring together sailors from 25 countries and four continents in a gala celebration hosted by the Yacht Club San Remo on Italy's Ligurian Riviera. The racing will encompass not only a 90th Anniversary Regatta series, which will run from Monday 7th to Friday 11th October and begins with round robin races to decide gold, silver and bronze fleets, but will also feature a number of special races to be sailed on Wednesday 9th October.

The first of those special races will be the 90th Anniversary Gala Race in which all 160 boats will come together for a spectacular one-off race. This will be followed by special races for Masters, Juniors, Family Crews, Ladies and the Champion of Champions, which is open to medallists of Olympic Games, World Championships, European Championships and World Cups in any class and the Dragon Gold Cup.

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The Dragon was designed by Johan Anker in 1929 as an entry for a competition run by the Royal Yacht Club of Gothenburg, to find a small keel-boat that could be used for simple weekend cruising among the islands and fjords of the Scandinavian seaboard. The original design had two berths and was ideally suited for cruising in his home waters of Norway. The boat quickly attracted owners and within ten years it had spread all over Europe.

The Dragon's long keel and elegant metre-boat lines remain unchanged, but today Dragons are constructed using the latest technology to make the boat durable and easy to maintain. GRP is the most popular material, but both new and old wooden boats regularly win major competitions while looking as beautiful as any craft afloat. Exotic materials are banned throughout the boat, and strict rules are applied to all areas of construction to avoid sacrificing value for a fractional increase in speed.

The key to the Dragon's enduring appeal lies in the careful development of its rig. Its well-balanced sail plan makes boat handling easy for lightweights, while a controlled process of development has produced one of the most flexible and controllable rigs of any racing boat.

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