The boat of the century

Dragons celebrate their 80th year in 2009. No other international series, except the Star, a 1911 design, and still an Olympic series, has traversed the century with as much success as the Dragon. Its Norwegian naval architect, Johan Anker, who created this little 8.90 metre marvel in 1929. Its original Marconi rig with a head stay and small jib was modified in 1945 to take on the form it has today. Equipped with a small coachroof and accommodating two bunks, the Dragon made its entry into France in the 1950s and it was in the English Channel that the first races took place.

The Dragon is extremely sensitive at the helm, with its narrow hull and its uncluttered deck, and it is tailor-made for sport with at least three crew. From 1948 to 1972 it became an Olympic series, which increased its prestige. It’s a highly technical and complex yacht. Carrying relatively little sail area for its weight, you must never let it stop. For this, the helmsman must be extremely attentive and concentrated as regards his or her crew members. Last year, the youngest participant at Petit Navire in Brittany was 14 years old, whilst the most senior of the skippers will this year be celebrating his 88th birthday.

They originate from the world of Olympics, such as Luc Pillot, gold medallist in the 4.70, from global circuits with Gildas Philippe and his two world championship titles in 4.70 and Mumm 30, record holders (Bruno Peyron) and 60 foot monohull specialists (Jean Le Cam, Kito de Pavant, Bernard Stamm) and they’ll be tackling the Dragon ?specialists’ such as Babou Pastouraud, at the head of the fleet with the greatest track record of the series. These are the French competitors whilst overseas followers include His Royal Highness, Henrik of Denmark, who will be heading to Douarnenez on the ?Danebrog’, the Danish crown’s emblematic yacht.

The Dragon programme From 2nd to 4th May, the Dragons will be participating in the Coupe de Bretagne (Brittany Cup) for Dragons. On 5th May, it will be the Nautic-Champion’s Race to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Grand Prix Petit Navire. The podium winners from the previous 9 Grands Prix have been invited to do battle in a single race, sponsored by the Paris Boat Show. Additional guests include winners of the Jules Verne Trophy, the Vendee Globe, world championship title holders, European champions and Olympic medallists. From 6th to 9th May, it will be the Grand Prix Petit Navire Dragon.

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