The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club hosted the Hong Kong Dragon Championship over the weekend 24/25 November with a record 18 boats competing for the title. A number of international Dragon champions flew to Hong Kong for the event including current world champion and owner of Petticrows, Tim Tavinor (GBR208), North Sail Dragon expert Theis Palm (HKG55), Fritz Sails owner Werner Fritz (HKG51), Chris Hunt from the Cowes Royal Yacht Squadron (GBR208), Etchells European Champion Nils Razmilovic (HKG50), ex International Dragon Association Chairman Thomas Olrog (SWE364) and Christiane Hugelman (HKG26) from the Hamburg Dragon fleet.
HK Dragon Champs 2012
Ahead of the Championship, eight boats were practicing on Friday at Lamma (south of Hong Kong Island) and four boats had a full day of training with Theis Palm from North Sails. 40 of the competitors also gathered together on Friday evening at RHKYC Kellett Island for a session on Dragon Tuning and Trimming with Theis Palm and Tim Tavinor from Petticrows.
Saturday started with a good 15 knots established easterly breeze providing the perfect conditions for the Dragons. However, contrary to normal Lamma conditions, the breeze was very shifty, and the challenge was to anticipate those shifts while progressing through the chops. Chris Hunt, Tim Tavinor and Oliver Merz achieved this perfectly on their Petticrows GBR208 specially shipped to Hong Kong for the event. They won three of the four Saturday races and came second on the race they did not win, right after Tam Nguyen (HKG55). With Chris Hunt (GBR208) clearly ahead after the first day of racing, the focus shifted to the battle for the HK Champion title (first Hong Kong boat) with Phyllis Chang (HKG50) ahead of Tam Nguyen (HKG55) by only one point after the first day (but one point behind including discard). Karl Grebstad (HKG51) was also closely behind and could win the title if Phyllis and Tam made a mistake on Sunday.
With 22 knots blowing on Sunday morning at the start of the first Sunday race, any mistake could be 'fatal'!
HKG50 and HKG55 sailed close together but with Tam ahead of Phyllis on Sunday first race (2nd and third respectively) and on the second race (3rd and fifth), Phyllis nice second place just ahead of Tam in the final race was not enough for her to beat him. On the overall results, Chris Hunt (GBR208) came first, Tam Nguyen (HKG55) second (and takes the HK Champion title for the second year in a row), Phyllis Chang (HKG50) third and Karl Grebstad (HKG51) fourth.
There was also another big competition going on within the 12 Corinthians - boats with no professionals on board. It started quite tight between Thomas Olrog (SWE364) and Lowell Chang (HKG46). But Thomas broke his mast on the third race on Saturday and had to miss two races out of the 7. This left Lowell Chang (HK46) with a convincing Corinthian win ahead of Marc Castagnet (HKG1) and Simon Chan (HKG8). There was also some close racing in the middle of the fleet between Andreas Brechbul (HKG20), Frederic Roumier (HKG40), Sytske Kimman (all ladies' boat HKG26 + a pigeon which decided to stay with the boat for the whole event!) and Dan Lindwall (HKG37).
The fleet had a fantastic weekend on the water with great wind conditions: 12-15 knots on Saturday and 22 knots for the first race on Sunday ending up at 12 knots in the afternoon. Thanks to the strong support from our sponsors Central Oceans, Slam, Northrop and Johnson and Links International. The time in the club at Middle Island was also hugely enjoyable, and all the competitors appredciated the camaraderie of the HK and international Dragon class with dinners organized on both days. The winners of each category received Slam vouchers and champagne. Winner Chris Hunt (GBR208) kindly decided to give his prizes to the youth Dragon sailors of the RHKYC.
Tim Tavinor, head of Petticrows and current Dragon World Champion commented: 'Overall its been a very competitive regatta and it has been a pleasure to be here. I certainly hope in the not too distant future that the Worlds can be hosted here - it is a fantastic venue.'