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An interview with Todd Cox on the 2022 Dragon's Breath Regatta

by David Schmidt 5 Aug 2022 08:00 PDT August 6, 2022

What's in a name? In the case of the colorfully named Dragon's Breath Regatta, which is organized by the Oriental Dinghy Club (August 12-14), in Oriental, North Carolina, a lot (see below). While we can't validate claims of dragon sightings, images of past regattas portend great racing, comradery, and a great time spent with friends new and old.

The Dragon's Breath Regatta is open to monohulls that carry at least 20 feet on their waterline and have a valid PHRF certificate. Multihulls are also invited to participate in the Cruising Division. Racing will unfurl on the waters of Oriental's harbor, and the event plans to administer racing in four divisions (PHRF > 168, PHFR < 168, Spinnaker [all ratings], and cruising).

I checked in with Todd Cox, race chair of the 2022 Dragon's Breath Regatta, via email, to learn more about this exciting handicap regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Dragon's Breath Regatta, how it got its colorful moniker, its history and culture, and the kinds of boats and sailors that one can expect to find here?

The town of Oriental is named after the Sail/Steamship Oriental, which sank off the coast here 150 years ago while carrying Union troops and supplies.

Oriental motif dragons play a part in many of the festivals here including our Dragons Breath Regatta.

The boats and sailors for this regatta range from former world champions sailing three-person Olympic keelboats to casual family cruisers. A great way to get a feel for Oriental is from our daily news

What kinds of numbers and interest levels are you seeing ahead of the 2022 event compared with previous editions?

We expect a turnout of 21-25 boats; this has been relatively consistent over the last few years despite Covid. Fifteen years ago, this was a 50-plus boat event.

How many classes do you and the other event organizers plan to run?

There will be one spinnaker division, two jib and main divisions, and a cruising division.

Generally speaking, what kinds of conditions can sailors expect on the waters of the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound in mid-August?

Although the summer months can serve up some light air days, the high probability is for 15-18 knot sea-breeze conditions with a significant chop.

It will be very hot and humid; hence the dragon's "breath".

What kinds of on-the-water racing can attending skippers and crews look forward to? Are we talking about mostly windward-leeward racing, or will you also run races that use the islands or geographical points as turning marks?

The Spinnaker and Jib&Main divisions will race around inflatable marks with courses being windward-leeward, triangle, or combinations of both.

The Cruising division will race a pursuit start triangle well outside the inflatable[-mark] courses. Their marks are government marks at shoals, ICW turn points, and a harbor entrance.

Are there any new additions or important changes to the 2022 regatta, compared to previous editions?

For 2022 there are no significant changes to the regatta format.

That being said, the simultaneous outside cruising[-class] triangle was new in 2021.

What about onshore entertainment? What can sailors look forward to once the finishing guns have gone silent each day?

Our onshore activities include a Friday evening registration get together, a Saturday evening social and dinner with music, and a Sunday post-race awards ceremony.

All of these take place harborside at the Oriental Inn and Marina. Oriental is a very popular stop on the ICW; it is a town of 900 people and 2,500 boats. It is considered the sailing capital of North Carolina.

Can you please tell us about any efforts that the club has made over the last year or two to further green-up the regatta and make it an even more sustainable event?

At all of our events we minimize the use of single-use plastics. At our small-boat and youth events, the awards often are Nalgeen-type water bottles to drive home the point.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

I believe our most significant initiative in the last few years is the formation of an umbrella organization to combine the efforts and resources of our racing club and the two local cruising clubs. The events organized and conducted by this structure have contributed thousands of dollars to local youth and collegiate sailing.

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