There were 64 Dragons racing from fourteen nations at Lake Thun, Switzerland for the Dragon European Championships last week.
Day 1 - If you are going to spend the day waiting for the race officer to set a clean windward leg there is no better place to do it.
Other than a few tune up sessions and for some a competitive three-mile sail home at the end of a four hour wait for racing, Day 1 ended without any competitive racing. The unstable conditions resulted in the race officer posting an 8.30am for Day 2, which means the fleet will need to be on the water for 7.30am!
Days 2 & 3 - three days into the championships and two races of a possible eight were completed.
The pontoon area was festooned with Dragons and the lengthy waits for the committee boat to signal "follow me", allowed many non-sailing water based activities to take place.
The two races completed over days 2 and 2 were sailed in light, generally four to eight knots and shifty airs. The results to date reflect the random nature of the conditions, which unless five races are sailed, will see disappointing results for some of the event favourites.
During the limited racing we have seen, competitors are very well behaved. Bearing in mind the size of the fleet, mark rounding has been free from incident with little shouting. Indeed, the shouting and hull banging came during race three, when 25 or more boats were flying kites 300 meters before reaching the first windward mark. The race officer responded with three resounding guns and the days racing was over.
Day 4 - the last day of the championship and only three races had been sailed. With podium positions dependant on the final races, a tense days racing was in store.
As competitors gathered on site and in the absence of wind, Lake Thun shuddered in the morning sun reflecting the shadows of the surrounding mountains. Three hours later a light 6 knot air filled in and with much relief, the Dragon fleet spilled out onto the lake.
With race four completed by 2pm and conditions remaining stable, the fleet sailed the 2 miles back for their final start. As race five got under way four boats remained in contention for the championship, comprising professional crews from Germany, UAE and Russia.
Championship honours went to Germany 1177, Pow Wow, skippered by Pedro Andre. Pedro achieved a consistent run of results, his worst result coming in the final, discard, race.
The first Corinthian boat, finishing 9th overall, was skippered by Tanja Jacobsohn sailing Germany 1186. GBR 770 sailed by RCYC's Jono, David and Fred Brown, were just outside the prizes finishing 6th in the Corinthian fleet and 21st overall.
Lake Thun and the area around is perhaps one of the most beautiful in Switzerland. The Lake was slow to open its secrets to visiting sailors and proved challenging for those new to its waters.
The event was run efficiently by our hosts at Thunersee yacht club. The presence of so many professional sailors brings a different dynamic to socialising off the water, but access to a wealth of experience concerning the Dragon, which most were happy to impart.
You will find some wonderful footage of the event at https://www.facebook.com/sabrina.froeschl/posts/10154358153587255
The stunning photos are by Samuel Hess.