History of the IDA
Formation of an International Association
Prior to 1961 there was no overall authority for the Dragon Class. Each country where a fleet existed had its own Association, which decided its own fixtures, as a result of which there were frequent clashes.
At the Gold Cup in Rothesay that year and at the Centenary Regatta in Helsinki, there were meetings between the representatives of the countries taking part, following, which a circular was sent to all countries, where there were Dragon fleets, inviting them to declare the number of registered Dragons in their country, and whether they would support the formation of an International Association.
The main objectives proposed at that time were:
1) To be an advisory to the IYRU, it being understood that the IYRU would continue to administer the Class and its Rules
2) To keep the Dragon countries in touch with each other
3) To co-ordinate views on the Dragon Class Rules prior to the IYRU meeting
4) To avoid clashes in International Dragon regattas
The circular was sent to fifteen countries from all of which acceptances were received with
five or six additional countries indicating provisional approval.
A meeting was called for the 31st October 1961, attended by representatives of thirteen countries, but there were twenty countries in all in favour. A first Committee of six Officers was elected with Sir Gordon Smith (GBR) as Chairman.
He was given the task of writing a Constitution for consideration at a meeting to be held during the 1962 Gold Cup in Hankoe, Norway.
The results of the meeting were distributed to the National Associations of no less than thirtyone countries, which at time included Argentine, Bermuda, Brazil, Greece, Jamaica, Uruguay, Yugoslavia and Singapore, (none of which now operate Dragon fleets).
The inaugural meeting of the Association was held on 23rd July 1962 during the Gold Cup in Hankoe, attended by nineteen countries. The Constitution adopted there, drafted by Sir Gordon Smith, bears more than a passing similarity to the present Constitution, and meetings thereafter were held at regular intervals, usually twice yearly.
Major International Trophies
The were no World of European Championships for Dragons at this stage, the Gold Cup, originally presented in 1936, being regarded as the major International trophy. Very quickly however the Coupe Virginie Heriot was converted to the trophy for the European Championship, the first being held by France in 1964 in Cannes.
The meeting also agreed that the World Championship would be held in every other year, the first in 1965 in Sweden, with a maximum of two boats per country.
His Majesty King Constantine presented the IDA with the Epathlon Vassileos trophy for the World Championship.
It was soon agreed that the European Championship should be held in every even year and the World Championship in every odd year. (Note: it was decided at the 2004 AGM to make the European Championship an annual event).
The first problems over the Dragon hull shape appear to have arisen in 1962 and led to a decision in 1963 that once a boat had been measured as a Dragon it was always a Dragon, and would not be liable for re-measurement (except for re-measurement before the Olympic Games) unless major repairs had taken place and if specifically approved by a National Authority.
The basis appeared to be more to do with
protests about hull shapes at regattas, than an endeavour to achieve a one-design hull shape.
1964 also saw the decision by the IDA to publish a Dragon Handbook (at a cost of one and sixpence each). Association funds were also used to buy a wedding present for His Majesty the King of Greece (our present President) and his Queen to be, HRH Princess Anne-Marie. Olympic Triangle courses became standard at this time.
In 1965 East Germany asked to join, as a separate Association from West Germany, and after some hesitation this was agreed. It also saw a proposal to use templates for measurement and a “worksheet” which was the forerunner of our present Measurement Form.
Puerto Rico and Spain applied to join in 1966. This was the period when the American “Buddy” Friedrichs, using a lightweight mast designed by Savell in San Diego and North Sails came to the Centenary Regatta in Copenhagen and won the European Championship, but due to a collision before one of the races only managed 2nd in the Gold Cup.
This was a heavy regatta, which gave rise to a concern about the durability of light masts, which resulted in the introduction of minimum weight and centre of gravity rules.
Glass Fibre Hulls
By 1969 the scarcity of suitable spruce for masts in many areas resulted in the decision to experiment with alloy masts of comparable performance.
At the same time the question of glass fibre hulls was raised and Borge Borresen agreed to build a prototype according to a specification that he was not allowed to draw up himself.
Alloys spars were produced for trials in 1970, and this was extended to include the main and spinnaker booms. Spinnaker hatches and chutes were also permitted about this time and introduced in 1971 at the same time as the alloy spars.
Most Dragons at this time were built by Borresens. In 1971 it was concluded that, after a thorough investigation of the specification for the GRP Dragon. With identical weight distribution with to the wooden Dragon, it would be at least as strong and give the same performance.
The specification was approved by the IYRU in 1972 but GRP boats were not to be eligible for trophies until November 1972, so they were not able to sail in the Olympics that year.
The Dragon had taken part in the Olympics since 1948, but was deselected after 1972.
Had the GRP boats been available earlier, perhaps they could have continued. For a full list of Olympic Results see the IDA section of this website.
GRP Boats by Borresen
A GRP boat was shown by Borresen at the London Boat Show in January 1972. During 1974, Borge Borresen modified the Dragon rig so that a larger genoa and spinnaker could be used In trials against other Dragons in Denmark it was noted that the boat was slightly faster to windward but not in light weather.
There was hardly any difference on a run and it was agreed that the experiment was not worth the trouble and expense, and was dropped after thanks to Borge Borresen for carrying out the trials.
Wooden decks on GRP hulls, originally started in 1973 in Switzerland were finally approved in 1975 at the same time as Cold Moulded construction was allowed.
Fleets in 26 Countries
There was a roster in 1977, recorded in the Minute Book which lists the Officers and the National Associations, which still included the Bahamas, China, Greece, Hungary, Jamaica, the Philippines and Poland, among the total membership of 26. Unfortunately there is no record of the overall number of boats.