2011 started on the right foot when, in January, RCYC member Tim Tavinor returned triumphant from the Dragon World Championship held in Melbourne, Australia. Rob Campbell, Matt Walker and Martin Makey also made the trip ‘downunder’ sailing Quicksilver IV representing the UK and the RCYC, but it was Lawrie Smith helming Alfie crewed by Tim Tavinor and Ossie Stewart who finally won the championship with an exciting last race. The fleet, keen to hear the details and see the trophy in the real, congregated at the club to welcome back the champion with a champagne toast. This set the scene for the season ahead.
The interest in the fleet continues to grow with several new comers now racing Dragons regularly. The rigging brunch morning, when the fleet helped each other rig boats (after a full English breakfast), boat set up and training sessions run by Tim Tavinor, try a Dragon and crew training days with the help of experienced Dragon crews and helms, have all boosted the enthusiasm within the fleet.
The first big event for the Dragons was the four day Easter Regatta with entries welcomed from the Medway, Solent and Abersoch fleets. Seventeen Dragons competed for the beautiful cut glass Easter bowl in near perfect sailing conditions (sunshine and shorts). With a combination of windward/leeward and ‘round the can’ races and the full social programme laid on by the club, the event was deemed a resounding success. The winner was Avalanche Mark and Mandy Wade with Andrew ‘Noddy’ Norden. The relatively new Abersoch fleet, who had ventured from Wales for some early season practice, felt they had tacked the boat more in one weekend than they had the whole of the previous season!
It is not often that Burnham is considered to be ‘on the way’ to anywhere but in early May we welcomed a team of Dragon sailors from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club who stopped off on their way to an event on the South Coast. The six sailors were competing in an Interport event at Cowes and wanted to visit the land of the Petticrows Dragon, the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and experience racing with the fleet on the Crouch. As the fleet headed upriver in windy conditions towards Cliff we assured them that the short tacking practice would be beneficial!
The next major event hosted by the Burnham Dragons at the RCYC was the British Dragon Association East Coast Championship held at the end of May. The International and National representation continued as we welcomed entries from Austrailia and Denmark; Medway, Solent and Aldeburgh. After three days of close competitive racing, the defending 2010 champion won the event, Jorgen Schonherr from Denmark crewed by Tim Tavinor and Kate Cole. The club was once again commended by the entrants for the excellent racing run by Kim Allen, Edwin Buckley and the race team, the hospitality of the membership and enjoyable shore side entertainment.
Mini series events of four races in a day in spring and autumn have continued to test and improve the boat handling skills of the Dragon teams with the exciting 45 minute windward/leeward courses. A very big thank you to the race committee ‘Team Phoebe’ who have run excellent racing in the testing tides of the River Crouch and Roach, in wind and calm, rain and sunshine.
Four teams represented the RCYC at the Northern Championship and Edinburgh Cup (Dragon National Championship), in July this year at Abersoch, North Wales and had the pleasure of racing in a beautiful bay with a superb backdrop and a view of Mount Snowdon (no short tacking there!). The top RCYC boats at the championships were Hands Off Mike Holmes, Alex Burnett and Matt Young who were 3rd at the Northerns and 1st Corinthian (nonprofessional) and Ganador, helmed by Rob Campbell with Matt Walker and John Torrence was the highest placed Burnham boat in the Edinburgh cup.
For the annual pub race this year we raced to Paglesham and were fortunate that a very friendly member of the Roach Sailing Association met us at the moorings and ferried us ashore to take the short walk to the Plough and Sail for lunch. Some sailed and others drove to enjoy a glorious afternoon in the pub garden. And…as expected, the Dragons raced home to drinks on the balcony of the RCYC in time to watch the sunset.
Every year the Dragons host a summer party, it’s the time to meet, greet, socialise and eat! It’s also the day of the annual crew’s races and the Pat Burnett Memorial Trophy so the winner, Matt Walker, helming Beauty and the Beast, was presented with the trophy after the hog roast and BBQ supper held in the garden of the Tavinors home. The evening’s entertainment was provided by Emma Tavinor and her band of friends from the Royal Marines who played a selection of music not normally heard on the parade ground!
Eight Dragons competed in Burnham week for the Bank Holiday Weekend, Mid-week points and Telegraph Cup trophies with some excellent spinnaker starts from the committee boat at Pile House, while five members of the fleet travelled to Ostend to represent the RCYC at the Belgian Championship and Gold Cup. As the travellers enjoyed the hospitality of the Belgians, the Burnham contingent dined on, Belgian style’ Moules and Steak for Dragon Burnham Week supper. Avalanche, the Wades and ‘Noddy’/Simon Howard and PageBoy X Clive, Graeme and Rory Page, were trophy winners in Burnham and Tigger helmed by Tim Tavinor crewed by Thomas Wilton and Pedro Andrade won the Belgian Championship and had a credible 9th in the Gold Cup.
Writing this report as the autumn racing draws to an end, we are pleased to say that the Dragon fleet has sailed every sailable weekend at the club. Our thanks go to the fleet for the support this year, all those behind the scenes, the race committee and race box, club staff and committee members who contribute to the running of the club so we can carry on doing what we all enjoy. We are currently planning winter social activities and an action packed programme for the season in 2012.
Whenever there is racing, Dragons are sure to turn up
Mark & Mandy Wade