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Dragons Ready to Party at 90th Anniversary With 160 Boat Gala Regatta

3rd October 2019
  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 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.

Some 160 Dragons from 26 nations – including nine from Ireland – are gathering at the Yacht Club San Remo, Italy, for the International Dragon 90th Anniversary Regatta, which takes place from Monday 7th to Friday 11th October 2019.

Teams from across Europe, Australasia, Asia and North America will come together to compete in five days of spectacular racing and enjoy six nights of fabulous partying.

A strong Irish Dragon Fleet involvement will include Kinsale Yacht Club sailors (Brian Goggin & Daniel Murphy) promoting the Dragon Gold Cup in Kinsale next season in September 2020. They have already arranged for the delivery of free Gold Cup 2020 T-shirts to every competitor and the Irish sailors have been provided with similar Gold Cup 2020 promotion Polos to wear at the event.

The incredible success of the International Dragon is rooted in the fact that it offers something for sailors at every level. From truly world-class competition, via club racing and special events for the classics, to family sailing and cruising, the Dragon’s innate elegance, impeccable sailing characteristics and legendary fleet camaraderie make her the perfect vehicle for all types of sailor. This 90th Anniversary celebration will honour every aspect of that appeal with a wonderful mix of participants from across the nations, generations and interest groups.

Hong Kong sailing legend Lowell Chang summed up the special feeling for the regatta saying, “Racing amongst the family of Dragon sailors Internationally since 1983 has given both my wife Phyllis and myself great joy, not only from sailing competitively (though those days are gone for us now) but from the fact that we became close friends with many fellow sailors from all over the world. I wouldn’t miss the 90th for anything. The class is strong because it is sailed by gentlemen and ladies who value honesty, good manners and sportsmanship above winning, people you want to spend time with. May it always be so.”

The racing programme incorporates a four-day fleet racing series run across two separate race courses, in which the boats will initially be divided into qualifying groups for a round-robin series on Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th October, before Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets race off in the Finals on 10th and 11th October.

Originally, the plan had been to sail the Classic Dragons (wooden Dragons built prior to the early 1970s) as a separate fleet, but one of the great strengths of the Dragon has always been that the boats have incredible longevity, with the older boats more than capable of holding their own against their modern counterparts. By popular demand, it has therefore been agreed that the Classics will race within the main fleet, adding still further to the sense of excitement and inclusiveness.

Top Australian Dragon sailor Richard Franklin admitted he couldn’t resist the lure of the event saying; “I've sailed a Dragon in Sydney for a number of years with the added attraction being the fabulous sailing and competition in Europe. So much so, that I now also maintain a Dragon at Cannes Yacht Club. The spectacle of the 90th Anniversary Regatta was too much to resist. I'm looking forward to a great party that celebrates the wonderful boat we sail .... And also, to some fun on the water.”

Wednesday 9th October will be a very special race day as the fleet takes a break from series racing for some special birthday races, after which the sailors will come together at the stunning art deco waterside Morgana Victory restaurant for the 90th Anniversary Gala Dinner. The first special race will bring together all 160+ entrants on the same starting line for a spectacular one off 90th Anniversary Gala Race. This will be followed by races for Lady Helms, Junior crews (combined crew age of under 100 with the skipper born after 5.6.1986), Masters (combined crew age over 180), Family Crews (all crew members must be related) and a Crews race (crew member must helm). The special races will culminate with a Champion of Champions race in which winners and medallists of Olympic Games, World and European Championships and World Cups in any class and from the Dragon Gold Cup are eligible to participate.

Competing in the Masters, Ladies and Champion of Champions will be Britain’s Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, one of the most successful lady helms on the circuit. Gavia had crewed Dragons since her teens, but only started helming when she became a Dragon owner in 2003. “The Dragon 75th anniversary celebrations in St Tropez in 2004 introduced me to sailing my boat on the international circuit. For the past 15 years I have been enjoying some 16 international regattas a year and it is exciting to now be celebrating 90 years in San Remo, a venue we love.”

The Champion of Champions Race will include some of the biggest stars in sailing. From Australia comes Hamish Pepper, a four time Olympian, double Star World Champion, Farr 40 and Farr 30 World Champion. Fellow Australian Peter Gilmour, an America’s Cup veteran and four-time World Match Racing Tour Champion, will be sailing for Japan with his son Sam and Yasuhiro Yaji, as well as acting as brand ambassador for event sponsor Yanmar.

Jørgen Schönherr is a two-time Flying Dutchman World Champion, a 505 World Champion and in Dragons has won five Gold Cups and the 2005 World Championship and will be flying the flag for Denmark in the competitions.

British Olympian, Etchells World Champion and three-time Dragon World Champion Andy Beadsworth will race with Ali Tezdiker and Simon Fry, with whom he won the Dragon Worlds in Freemantle earlier this year and in Weymouth in 2017.

Russia is putting forward a strong team for the regatta and among their Champion of Champions entries are Yevgen Braslavetz, who won both the World and European Dragon Championships in 2015 and who comes fresh from victory at last week’s Regates Royales in Cannes. Dmitry Samokhin, who currently leads the 2019 Dragon European Cup Circuit series, and Anatoly Loginov, who has two Dragon European Championship and one Gold Cup win to his name, will also be hoping to claim Champion of Champions victory for Russia.

Leading the Portuguese challenge is Pedro Andrade, a Dragon sailor of twenty years standing with many victories to his name including the 2017 European Championship and this year’s Dragon Gold Cup in Medemblik. Pedro will be crewing for Pedro Mendes Leal in the series racing but will take the helm for the Champion of Champions race. Looking forward to the event he summed up the sailors’ feelings succinctly, saying “I am excited to be going to San Remo to celebrate this fantastic anniversary with so many sailors. I think one of the main attractions is that the sailors that are coming are not so focused on sailing results, but want simply to be part of this amazing gathering and to enjoy this unique party to celebrate our class. It will be a great gathering and will really show the spirit of the class.”

Published in Dragon
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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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