About the Dragon
The Dragon was designed by Johan Anker in 1929. 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.
In 1937 the Gold Cup was presented to the class by the Clyde Yacht Clubs Association. This quickly became one of the principal championships in the class and a prestigious trophy in the world of competitive yachting.
Origin of the Name
Gunter Ahlers writes: In the beginning boats were built by the designer’s yard, Anker and Jensen, as a “cheap” skerry cruiser for young people.
When the design was submitted to the then IYRU (now World Sailing) he or someone else translated his name “Anker” into Norwegian language “Draggen” and the English, being reluctant to speak other languages, made out of “Draggen”, “Dragon”, probably thinking that this Norwegian did not even know how to spell Dragon.
This is how this Class came to its name, so I was told years ago. If it is not quite true, it comes close to being true and is a good story anyhow…. See also “Early Dragon History”, an informal posting on the IDA Forum.
The Olympic Years
In 1948 the Dragon became an Olympic Class, a status it retained until the Munich/Kiel Olympics in 1972. It remains the only Olympic yacht ever to have a genuinely popular following outside the Games.
Since the Olympics the Dragons have gone from strength to strength. The major reason for this has been the ongoing controlled development of the boat.
In 1973 thanks to the hard work of Borge Borresen a G.R.P. specification was adopted, metal spars having been introduced in 1970. This proved to be a major milestone in the class’s development.
Designed from the first to compete on equal terms with the existing wooden boats, the GRP dragons are incredibly stiff – one reason why boats remain competitive at top level for years.
The Dragon Design
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.
Spars and sails are infinitely and easily adjustable while racing, allowing the skilful crew to optimise the boat for any conditions, and removing the need for an optimum body weight that characterises so many other classes.
Dragon races cannot be won by brute strength. The Dragon’s design philosophy has made it a class where extremely close racing is the norm, and where races are won by the crew’s mastery of the conditions and tactics on the course rather than by speed advantage.