eNewsletter - May 2009
The sudden death of Harro Kniffka at the age of 53 in March,
was I am sure, a shock to all of us. Harro was a great benefactor
to the Dragon Class and really loved his Dragon racing. His
generosity enabled the planned 75th Anniversary Race in St.
Tropez to proceed in 2004, when the major sponsor dropped
out. He continued sponsoring Dragon events in Germany as well
as individuals in the Star and other classes. He will, without
doubt sorely be missed, both on and off the racecourse.
The resounding success and participation of the Dragon regattas
so far this season, proves the resilience and strength of
the Class. Despite a slight lack of wind, the 10th Grand Prix
in Douarnenez was deemed to be a great regatta by the 90 odd
Dragons who participated. On the other hand, this is what
all of us have come to expect from the "Class Act"
put on year after year by Louis Urvois, Gwen Chapalain, Annie
Ravach and their teams of volunteers; congratulations. I am
sorry I could not be there this year, but will be there in
2010. No doubt, I shall make similar comments after the Grand
Prix in Strand in Germany, which is held in July. Run by the
formidable husband and wife team of Ulli and Manuela Libor,
which can only be another recipe for success. Jean- Pierre
Gailes continues to be responsible for all the races laid
on in Cannes and the Cote d'Azure. Without him pushing the
Regattas, and keeping us all informed of results and up-coming
events, participation would I feel sure be a lot lot lower.
There are countless other examples; La Baule, Deauville, Westeinder
in Holland to name a few. My point it, the individuals behind
the regattas, drive the success of the Dragon Class far more
than the economy.
Having said that, it seems that there is not much of an appetite
to take part in the race in Antigua scheduled for 10th to
17th of January 2010. The main reason as far as I am told
is that people do not want to "lose" their boats
for the three months realistically speaking, it takes to get
the Dragons there and back. Under consideration now is a holding
the event on a reduced scale and using the local 11 Dragons
so people can just "fly and race". If you are interested
in receiving more information, please drop Chris Dicker email@example.com
or Sophia at firstname.lastname@example.org a line.
I have been told by several Dragon sailors now, that a crew
training and crew finding programme would greatly benefit
the Dragon Class. In my view, this needs to be "attacked"
seriously if any good is to come of it. There are many opportunities
for setting up some training bases (Antigua for one in winter
is not such a bad spot and Cascaisin Portugal another) and
good people such as Vincie and Stavros to do training for
both crews and helms are around. Let me know if anyone would
be interested and if there are enough of you, I will put some
energy into trying to get this going.
In its wisdom, ISAF vetoed the rule change to allow us to
have kevlar above deck runners at its AGM. Reason given that
the material would suffer too much from sun damage and general
deterioration. However, Mike Hayles our technical Chief gave
me (and some others) dispensation/permission to test them.
I have been sailing a lot this winter in Antigua and conditions
have been both sunny and windy. My boat has been either in
the water or ashore with the mast up for six months. ( Not
sure if you have seen the photos of Dragons racing in Antigua
Sailing Week; if you have, you know that we had a lot a lot
of wind and long 20- 24 mile courses.) I believe the time
my Dragon has spent racing hard this winter, equates to a
couple of seasons for normal Dragon sailors. When I packed
my boat up, there was no sign whatsoever of any wear and tear
or sun damage on the runners. I am sending one of them to
Mike Hayles, so he can present it, and hopefully make our
case, to ISAF so their decision can be reversed.
I have been disappointed with the delay in production of
the new Petticrows mast. I should have had the mast for testing
for the races in Mallorca, but now I will start using it in
the French Championship in La Baule. I know several of you
have been looking forward to trying the new section, and I
apologise for this delay. On the other hand, the new genoa
track system, which has been under development for nearly
two years, is almost complete. If you think this is a long
time, it is not. When I was asked by the late Udo Pluckelman
to come up with a winchless system, to make life easier for
his wife Britta, it took me over three years. Many times I
thought I had the system cracked, but no, and I needed to
put the winches back on half way through a regatta. Then back
to the drawing board and designing and making new fittings.
However, already most of the crews who have been testing the
system on Danish Blue are impressed; I am just waiting for
delivery of the final fitting which hopefully deals with the
last bit of critisism (from Noddy!). You will hear the results
after the races in La Baule and Kiel.
An accident happened during last years Antigua Sailing Week.
After racing one of the Dragons accepted a tow from a Yacht
into Jolly Harbour. The crew, while fastening the line got
her hand caught under the cleat and as result lost three fingers.
I have had discussions about crew insurance with Michael Kurtz
of Pantaenius for a while now. The following is copied from
a mail Michael sent me and leaves no room for doubt:
"As Sophia already mentioned we discussed in general
the difficulties to insure non-professional crews on non-professional
(fun) regattas. There are no proper crew insurances via the
sportboats (Dragons for example) hull and TPL policy available
on the market. All sailors must be covered via their own,
private insurance facilities in their countries for this kind
of individual - sporting activity - risk. There are crew insurance
covers available for Yacht Crews, but only if they are working/professionals
on Yachts. Another story might be the accident insurance which
covers death and disabilities only - but even this is very
limited cover and never ever any Dragon owner wanted to pay
this extra premium."
Michael's email is clear; crews need to have their own accident
insurance in place, as they are not covered by the boat insurance.
It is surprising how many people are not aware of this and
I therefore bring it up again.
So far, the new model Dragon is performing very well and
the owners are happy. Tommy Mueller managed to win the Coupe
de Bretagne with his brand new boat; he didn't do so well
in the end in the Grand Prix though, finishing 7th. Congratulations
to Evgeniy Braslavets from the Ukrainian Bunker Team who was
the winner of the Grand Prix. I managed a first place in my
first sail on Danish Blue in the Copa in Callanova, followed
by a 6th place in the Princess Sofia. Simply due to stupidity
on my part; going into the last race race I was laying second.
Tommy deservedly won that race too. My full admiration goes
to a very quiet and reserved team from Russia; Russia 27,
Anatoly Logonov with Alexander and Andrei are having a great
season. Winning in Cannes, second in Monaco and the Grand
Prix in Douarnenez is a great achievement in my book. All
due to dedication and concentration; watch out for this team.
We will continue to see them on the winners podium. Another
Dragon sailor I take my hat off to is Olga White. Conditions
in Antigua Sailing Week were tough without doubt and the courses
long. In Europe, a race committee would not have dreamt of
even starting a fleet of Dragons. Nevertheless she was on
the starting line every day and always came off the boat with
a big smile on her face. Last year, she deservedly won this
event; this year she was not lucky but conditions were against
her too. Even though I won, the racing was extremely close.
After racing 22 miles there were only seconds between us and
Misha Mouratov who finished second and Anatoly who came third.
I hope to see you on the racecourse; please feel free to
have a good look at Danish Blue. There are many new "toys"
All the best,
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