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An interview with Peter Menzel on the 2022 Dragon World Championship

by David Schmidt 8 Jun 08:00 PDT June 12-17, 2022
Dragon Worlds at Cascais day 5 © Paulo Moreira

Johan Anker designed the Dragon keelboat in 1929, and it quickly established itself as one of the most competitive—and prettiest—One Designs afloat. The boat became an Olympic class in 1948, and it competed in its last Games at the 1972 Munich Olympics. While the loss of Olympic status can be a death blow to some classes, the Dragon-much like the equally venerable Star-has long enjoyed a dedicated following that has remained committed to the boat and the class long after its Olympic starting guns fell silent. Fiberglass boats were introduced in 1973, and the development class has worked to keep its rigging modern.

Today, the boat is sailed in more than 25 countries and continues to attract some of the fastest names in One Design sailing (also much like the Star). World Championship regattas are held every other year, and collecting the top prize at a Dragon Worlds is no easy feat.

This year’s Dragon Worlds (June 13-18) are being held on the waters off of Kühlungsborn, Germany, and are being hosted by the Sailing Club Kühlungsborn.

A glance at the entry list (as of this writing) reveals a fleet that is almost 50 strong in numbers and includes boats and teams from at least 12 countries. This is impressive, given the travel restrictions that have hampered regattas on both sides of the Pond since the pandemic began closing down borders and making international travel a significant hurdle. (While a North American boat hasn’t won the Dragon Worlds since American George Friedrichs’ Williwaw took top prize in 1967, there are currently no entries with a “CAN” or “USA” prefix on their sails.)

I checked in with Peter Menzel, regatta manager of the Segelclub Kühlungsbrn, via email, to learn more about this highly competitive world-championship regatta.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing this year?

53 boats. Most of them from Germany and Europe. [For] exact [entry] numbers and countries see on www.dragon-kuehlungsborn.de/event-infos/registrierung-wm/?lang=de

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter on the waters off of Kühlungsborn in mid-June? Also, what are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

Typicaly we have wind between 10 to 20 knots from western direction. So alongshore with very low disturbance. Off course we do not know the exact weather, but typically we have very good sailing conditions with temperatures about 20 °C and low chance of summer thunderstorms.

So, with a bit of luck perfect sailing conditions.

In the ideal world, how many races do you and the other organizers hope to score? Also, how many races will you run per day?

Ten races [total,] with two races per day.

How important do you think local knowledge will be for this regatta? Also, if you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) teams, what would it be?

As we will sail on open waters, the conditions are very simple, but off course there are some really tricky effects like unexpected currents and the effect of the shoreline, although it is far away and most sailors tend to neglect it.

So, my advice [is]: inspect the local currents before each race, be prepared for short and steep waves, and don't just neglect the shoreline. Also have a regular look to the clouds.

Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lower the regatta’s environmental footprint or otherwise green-up the regatta?

We are supporting the UN Decade of Oceans, and we are planning to [send] parts of the [sponsorship] money to an ocean restoration project.

We also are using autonomous marks to minimize fuel consumption by mark-laying boats.

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