The recent acquisition of a copy of the Winter 1937 edition of the Club Journal has highlighted the proposed introduction of the Dragon Class to the Club although there remains a mystery of whether it happened as planned. Coincidentally these facts came to light the same time as some fascinating ciné footage of Dragons sailing in Burnham in 1946 on the British Dragon Association's website.
This is an extract from the 1927 Winter Journal
During Burnham Week it was announced that the Club will give races next season for Dragons; the Committee hopes it will start off as a strong class and know that it will become a popular one in the Burnham river. Members of other Clubs are invited to race in this Class.
It is not a Corinthian Class but an International one and Corinthian members will be pleased to enter races given by other Clubs so as to make the Class a full one and so that we can find the best men to represent the Crouch in International events.
The Dragons are cheap to transport, need only a small crew and have proved an instant success in many countries. We have already promised to send one of our Dragons to the Clyde International Regatta next year.
Mr Lees has kindly collected some information about the Class and we publish this on another page so that those who wish to join the Class can know all about it.
It is now certain that Dragons will be racing on the Crouch next season. A meeting for those interested in the Class was held on October 26th and three members have decided to order boats for delivery next year.
A suggestion has been made that until there is a large fleet of Dragons at Burnham, they should race in a 20 Square Metre Class with the Tumlares and Five Metres, thus ensuring regular racing for all three classes.
For the benefit of members who are considering buying Dragon boats, we append details of costs:
So everything seemed set fair for the arrival of the new class, three keen buyers and plans for the racing into which the new class is to be introduced. However...
The RCYC Match Books were started in 1872 with the first races on the Thames at Erith. When Bobby Melville supervised the writing of the Club's History, 'A Hundred Years of Amateur Sailing' in 1972, the entire range of Match Books were at his disposal up to the last one compiled in 1938. Alas, we no longer have most of them; that will make another story!
The last one does still exist so I set about tracing the exploits of the new Dragon Class in 1938. Sadly, there is no evidence that I can find. So what happened? Why did the promised boats not materialise? Did they arrive in 1939? if so, I cannot prove it as the match book ended with Burnham Week 1938. It will probably remain one of those tantalising research puzzles that may be solved by evidence turning up from a completely unexpected quarter.
The BDA's website has been involved with a discussion about the arrival of Dragons in Burnham with some fascinating ciné footage taken in 1946. Strangely, there are no shots of the Corinthian Clubhouse - perhaps it was still camouflaged after the war! Click on the link to the BDA website in the right hand column.
I had hoped to have proved the existence of earlier Dragons on the Crouch but, sadly, I can't!