The International Dragon Class - An 85 Year Heritage

Originally designed by Norwegian, Johan Anker in 1929, the sleek, graceful lines and the Dragon’s excellent sailing performance, saw the Class quickly expand throughout Europe. In 1948 the Dragons became an Olympic Class until the Munich Games in 1972.  

85 years later, the Dragon Class has retained its popularity and remains the only Olympic yacht to have a strong following outside of the Games. Many have asked why the Dragon Class is still so successful and the common response is threefold:  beautiful lines, good rules and tight competition.  

The Dragon is vintage – but not old – and the rules governing the Class have evolved alongside technical innovations over time.

Over 1400 Dragons are now sailed in 30 countries by an international class of sailors from Olympic medalists to America’s Cup sailors (including Russell Coutts) and European Royalty.

A testament to the strength of the Class was the participation in the 75th Anniversary Celebration Regatta held in St Tropez in 2004.  It was the largest single class yachting event ever held with 267 Dragons crossing the 1.2 km start line.  The Royal Class Official 75th Anniversary Book to commemorate the event, asks Swede, Jan Berglow, (who is one of the few alive today who witnessed the launching of the Dragon Class in 1929) why he thought the Dragon Class was still so successful …

“To me the Dragon is supreme.
 Her lines are as harmonious as her sailing characteristics; 
she is lively and a great pleasure to sail.  
She is sensitive to the helm, responding to the lightest touch.  
Just to watch the sailors manoeuvre their yachts fills me with joy.”

Part of the appeal of the Dragon Class is the ability to compete in a programme of events from Europe to the Asia Pacific. The penultimate championship in the annual calendar is the Gold Cup that was originally presented to the Class by the Royal Clyde Yacht Club Association, Scotland in 1937 and has become a highly sought after prize in the world of competitive yachting.  The Dragon World Championships are held every 2 years (and every 8 years in Australia - the latest being 2011).