Dear Dragon sailors,
The Dragon New Year started ‘down under’ with the Prince Philip Cup in Sydney, Australia. The many detailed and informative race reports posted online showed what a competitive fleet it was and the winner did not emerge until the final race. The win was all the more impressive when we learnt that the PPC was won by the evergreen Gordon Ingate, who became the Australian master again at 90 years young! Congratulations Gordon & crew!
It is very much about experience and skills our class!
In Europe, the year started in Cascais, with 28 boats participating in the 3rd edition of the Winter series. The number of participants is clear proof that our many Dragon friends from around Europe are going to take the forthcoming World Championship very seriously. The 2011 World Champion, Lawrie Smith, put down a marker to the rest of the fleet by winning this series against a very competitive entry.
We can only guess how many boats we will see in Portugal in June, but I’d expect no fewer than 80. Certainly, former IDA Vice-Chairman Jose Matoso, who is very much involved in the Worlds organisation, has said that the Clube Naval de Cascais is prepared to accommodate more boats if necessary, and as CNC is one of the clubs with the best and most experienced race managements in the world, we know this is no idle boast. We are all looking forward to experiencing this mixture of a professional race committee and traditional Portuguese hospitality which will surely make this event a fantastic success!
During the months before Christmas I managed to take the time to participate in the World Sailing annual conference in Barcelona and at the Yacht Racing Forum in Malta.
In Barcelona, we had an unprecedented situation where there were three candidates for the post of President of World Sailing. The atmosphere was intense in the buildup to the election — more turbulent than the sea in the Roaring Forties! World Sailing, with 112 recognized classes and 147 national member associations, is a very complicated organism with many diverse interests and ancient, hidden affiliations among the numerous committees and the employees of the federation. With discussions ranging from its relationship with the IOC, to technical innovations like hydrofoils and wings, to the challenges of making our sport more attractive to broadcasters, social media and last but not least for the youth – it was like being in the middle of a bird colony! I am very happy that the new President of World Sailing is Kim Anderson from Denmark. Kim is a very keen Dragon sailor, and we can take that as a sign of the high value of our class within the sailing community, and this can only help us in our promotional efforts for the Dragon.
The CEO of World Sailing, Andy Hunt, declared at the YRF in Malta that according World Sailing’s data and projections, there are 57 million sailors in the world! Surely this is a powerful group? And is it not a big field from which our class can recruit newcomers?
I am convinced that the more development we see with foiling and other speedy machines, the more we will see a growth in interest in classic but modern boats like the Dragon. Let us leave the crazy speeds for the younger people and spread the message of the pleasure of tactical racing!
In our age of information overload, we must be up-to-date and very targeted with our communication to the sailors from other classes, especially those people aged 45 – 50+ looking for a boat to restart sailing they learned 25 – 30 years ago. For me it is difficult to imagine that they would identify themselves with helmeted athletes riding America’s Cup cats. That is why the Dragon class is so perfectly placed to recruit these sailors. It does not matter whether the new arrivals will sail only at club level or progress to national or international fleets. The sailors must be properly informed about the advantages of sailing our beautiful boat and involved in our Dragon life. We need resources for this undertaking. Social networks, media, TV can’t be used effectively in an amateur way. We must delegate this task to professionals. It is the ultima of our time.
That is why IDA is now actively looking for potential sponsors. Together with specialists from the ICARUS group we have prepared a marketing plan and a presentation for potential sponsors. There are real values in our class which can be seen in the series of competitions attracting media; another huge value is our Dragon community itself. We are ready to introduce it in a serious professional way to any marketing director from any company where are some Dragon sailors – either as owners or employees.
We are deliberately not just approaching influential Dragon sailors who perhaps own a successful business and asking them for help. We want to establish serious professional relationships and offer a real return on investment to the business that can see the value for them in supporting our class.
Why do people sail? What forces them to get wet and cold on long regatta days? I believe everyone knows the answer for himself. And some of us can go to the limits. Like Peter Heerema, who is still in the saddle in the Vendee Globe race. With almost 70% of the distance accomplished he is getting closer and closer to fulfilling his dream – finishing a solo around the world race. I believe that Peter will be a different person from the one we used to know when he finishes the race. He is battling not with the other 17 sailors still in the race (from the 28 who started in November 2016) but with himself, taking on his fears and weaknesses. Please find and read his interview. I am proud to know that guy and wish him strength and luck to finish the race!
If our wishes could only be turned into actions! I believe we would all put a lot of effort into prolonging some lives. Like Annie Ravach who passed away just few days ago after a long fight with a cruel disease. We will always remember this wonderful and devoted lady who represented for all of us the hospitality of Douarnenez, and was the heart of our very beloved event. R.I.P. Dear Annie. The best go always much earlier than we would wish.
With good snow finally getting down in Europe many of us enjoy skiing. Like Martin Payne who recently demonstrated a solid style in the French Alps. We know Stavros enjoys match racing, so maybe it is time now Martin, after you have become a proud 60+ club member, to think about organizing the ‘Stavros Ski and Sail Cup?