September 20, 2019
This year, the Dragon class turns 90 years old. The story about the amazing "dragon" story is dedicated to the material that was published in the September issue of Yacht Russia magazine.
© Elena Razina
The history of the Dragon class began in 1928, when the co-owner of a small shipyard and already well-known designer Johan Anker decided to take part in the competition of the Gothenburg Royal Yacht Club. It was required to submit to the competition a project of an inexpensive “youth” yacht, which would be convenient to walk on skerries and fjords
Text by Anton Shibaev and Arthur Grokhovsky with the assistance of Fiona Brown
The keel yacht with Bermuda armament, presented by the Norwegian designer, was surprisingly elegant. Long bow and stern overhangs made it elegant and at the same time impetuous. In a small cabin there were two berths, which without much comfort, but still allowed to set off for autonomous swimming. This project was so successful that it won the competition. The first boat was built in 1929 at the Anker & Jensen shipyard.
The total length of the "Dragon" under the project was 8.9 m, but only 5.65 m along the waterline, width 1.95 m, draft 1.2 m, cast-iron ballast keel weighed 1000 kg. Initially, the boats had small cabins, but gradually the “cabin” turned into a simple cabin-refuge. The first yachts had a sail area of 20 m2, and spinnakers were not allowed until 1938, but since then the total area of the grotto and genoa has increased to almost 28 m2. The mast at that time was wooden, had one pair of long spreaders. In 1945, the mast was changed, and the upper pair of paints and rhombo-guys appeared.
To this day, how the yacht acquired the name "Dragon" is debated. Of the many versions, the two most trusted. According to the first, Johan Anker gave the yacht this name in honor of the Viking ships – the famous drakars who were decorated with carvings of dragon heads by ancient sailors. The second version claims that the case is to blame. When the project entered the headquarters of the International Union of Sailing (IYRU), which, like the headquarters of the current International Sailing Federation (ISAF), was in England, the English name Anker was translated as anchor – “anchor”, and in reverse translation someone wrote the Norwegian anchor as draggen. And then the same English “corrected” the draggen, turning it into a dragon. So the name of the boat appeared, and then a whole class of yachts.
Climbing to the peaks
It so happened that the Clyde clubs were already looking for a suitable boat to replace the large and expensive classes. Despite the lack of interest on the part of the Association of Racing Yachts and the objections of the “old guard” (they say, “there can be no foreign-made or foreign-made boats in good old England”), J. Howden Hume and George Paisley announced that they had already bought “Dragon "By the name of" Anita ", which was shown at the McGreyer shipyard in Klinder.
By 1933, Johan Anker yachts gained popularity not only in Scandinavia, but also in Europe. In particular, they appeared in the waters of Great Britain, which is considered a trendsetter in everything related to sail. That year, Mr. Ball, a member of Royal Clyde YC, traveled to Scandinavia, where he saw the “Dragon” and was so impressed with it that he received the blueprints and brought them home.
The first six British "Dragons" were built by the same McGreyer, who took 220 ft for them. Art. The success of the class in Scotland was overwhelming, and by 1936 there were already 14 Dragons in Clyde. The first of a series of international races took place there, and the Clyde Yacht Club Conference in 1937 established the Dragon Golden Cup, which to this day remains the most coveted international trophy. Then the "Dragon" was recognized as an international class.
“Dragon” conquered the hearts of yachtsmen not only in appearance, but also in ease of management, speed qualities. It was a born racer, so there is nothing surprising in the fact that in the end the yacht got rid of the profession “skerry cruiser”. She was simply doomed to participate in regattas, fierce sports and to become a monotype.
In 1946, V.M. Mackinlay, secretary of the Clyde Yacht Club Conference, visited Norway and learned from his son Johan Anker, Eric, the following. Before his death, his father insisted that, in recognition of what the British sailors had done for Norway during the war, not one British Dragons builder should pay construction royalties.
Since 1947, the Dragons shipyard opened in France. In 1948, in a fair competition, the Dragon replaced the more expensive 6-, 8- and 12-meter-meters from the Olympic waters, having received the status of the Olympic class.
After 1948, Dragon participated in six other Olympic Games, after which it was replaced by Soling. Then many decided that the class’s popularity would instantly fall and it would gradually die. This did not happen, and now many yachtsmen believe that it is better for this class to be out of the spotlight and intense competition of those who are fighting for Olympic medals. Dragonboats have enough rewards without them.
The International Association of Dragons (IDA) has always been far-sighted and in 1957 allowed the use of synthetic sailing fabric, and in 1971 metal stringers. Meanwhile, Berge Borresen, the owner of the 1967 Gold Cup, in collaboration with the Lloyds Register of Shipping, was developing a specification that was “legalized” in 1972 and became the basis for an even more fateful decision – to build Dragons from fiberglass. The rules required that the boat be completely constructed of plastic. However, it later became clear that many owners liked the idea of an easily maintained hull in combination with an attractive wooden deck and superstructure, and the corresponding adjustments were made. What remained unchanged – all new “Dragons” must pass the test by heeling in order to prove: the construction was carried out in accordance with the specification. But what about old wooden boats? Not all of them were scrapped, many yachtsmen still cherish and cherish them, and sometimes they win prestigious competitions on them. This is the power of beauty.
"Dragon" in the USSR
The first "Dragons" appeared in the USSR in the early 1950s. The country intended to enter the Olympic arena and win on it. Of course, in a sail too. Therefore, attention to the "Dragon", as one of the most popular classes of yachts, was understandable.
Appearing in the Union, the yacht caused a real sensation. Its perfect hull, light trim on the stern, slightly littered mast caused delight. I liked literally everything! The sailors found some special appeal even in the Latin letter D on the grotto, which was supplemented with the letters SR (Soviet Russia) after the ship’s number.
Already in 1952, the Dragons' own production was established, and after a few years it was yachts of this class that became the basis of the fleet of many yacht clubs. Over 20 years, more than 1000 Dragons were built in the USSR, and all of them were in demand. Even when the boat was ending its “sports” career, this did not mean that its sailing life was over. “Dragons” were converted into “cruisers”, and natural seaworthiness allowed these yachts to successfully cope with their new role. Yes, and remember – Johan Anker conceived the "Dragon" is still just like a sker cruiser.
The class developed confidently and successfully until 1972, when the Dragon was removed from the Olympic Games. The construction of "Dragons" in the USSR was immediately stopped. Prospective riders moved to the "promising", that is, Olympic classes. Sports leadership has ceased to support the organization of racing non-Olympic class. Bonfires from the Dragons blazed around the yacht clubs. Where hands did not rise to burn such beauty, the boats were left to rot in the rain and snow.
Fortunately, not all Dragons suffered such a sad fate. The yachtsmen were too fond of these yachts to leave them so simply and without fear. Yet many thought that the class was doomed, that rebirth was impossible. They were wrong.
Revival in Russia
By the beginning of the 2000s, there were only a few boats ready to go on the water. To prevent the death of the "Dragon" as a class took the enthusiasts of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Sergey Ivanov (director of the Neptune Yacht Club near Moscow) and Sergey Bogdanov (photographer and designer) organized the Moscow Dragon Club in order to assemble the fleet and continue racing on the Dragons. On May 21, 2003, his first meeting was held. The year before, a project had begun to restore the old buildings that had miraculously survived, and already in the summer the first restored Dragon could be seen at the Moscow Championship at the Pestovsky Reservoir. In 2003, work was completed on the second hull, and, characteristically, the yachts were not just repaired, they were returned to their original appearance, the former beauty of lacquered wood.
Five yachts went to the start of the first Russian championship in the Dragon class, held in 2003. Then everything went on increasing. Five years later, the Dragons fleet consisted of more than fifty yachts, the championships became annual, an association was created. This was made possible thanks to the sailors of the Pirogovo Yacht Club Alexander Ezhkov, Arnold Sternberg, Anatoly Karachinsky – enthusiasts who are also obsessed with the dream of reviving the Dragon class in Russia.
Muscovites were supported by St. Petersburg yachtsmen. In 2006, Igor Frolov, Sergey Yazikov and Vladimir Loginov created the West Project shipyard. For the construction of boats from the English shipyard Petticrows was purchased matrix "Dragon". By 2013, the shipyard had built seven yachts, which now form the backbone of the modern fleet of "Dragons" in St. Petersburg.
Today, foreign yachtsmen from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Ukraine and even Hong Kong come to Russia to meet on our water in a duel with the Russians. In turn, Russian dragons participate in all major international regattas, being formidable rivals of foreign yachtsmen and constant favorites of the competition.
In any waters, more often on sails, next to the traditional letter D, you can see the letters RUS. And this is not a rebirth, this is life.
Since 1990, in the world of "Dragons", the Petticrows shipyard, led by Paul Ricard Hoi-Jensen, has become the undisputed leader. Since the foundation of the shipyard in 1988, it has produced nearly 800 boats, and recently, Petrrows has surpassed the Børresen shipyard in the number of yachts built.
It should be noted that in the 1990s, the yacht underwent a number of changes (in particular, gear wiring was changed), carried out under the vigilant control of the IDA Technical Committee. It was a difficult era when EU regulations demanded improved buoyancy for all pleasure craft.
Along with the development of new boats, IDA management has been actively implementing a strategy to support national associations in marketing activities and encourage new countries to increase the number of Dragon class fleets. At the same time, places for holding regattas were carefully selected, and race management was improved with the introduction of the championship regulations, which became the starting point for the development of many other classes. And the result is obvious: over 75 boats are going to the main championships.
In the new millennium, the 75th anniversary of the class was the most striking event. In 2004, 275 Dragons gathered on the French Riviera. All the big names of the sailing world were honored to come to Saint-Tropez. All yachtsmen who celebrated the Dragon anniversary with their participation in the races are still talking about this event, and the starting line with a length of more than 2.5 km speaks best of all about it!
Today, Petticrows (now a shipyard owned by Tim Tavinor, one of the most successful builders of Olympic-class boats) attracted the designers of the America's Cup to improve the shape of the yacht's hull. What does this indicate? About the constant desire to improve the boat, which is balanced by the IDA's mandate to control the development, which ultimately does not lead to the immediate obsolescence of previous models.
This is the key to the success of the Dragon today: although he is 90 years old, he is still developing.
109 September 20, 2019 # 9493