Sailing at it’s Finest

Real Life Water Dragons Exist 

At AFSID we took a break from our own Dragon to watch some real-life dragons. As we’d have about a day or two waiting on the new rudder, we decided it would be a great time to check out Juneau. We went on a Juneau whale watch excursion that did not disappoint. We chose to go out with the Whale Watch Alaska group because they came highly recommended by the boatyard. The tour put out from Auke Bay which is just about 15 minutes from Juneau, and according to Capt. Stephen is very close to some of the best places to find Humpback Whales. As we motored out to the feeding grounds onboard the 42’ jet boat (a boat specifically designed to be safe for the wildlife), we passed along the shore of Admiralty Island, where we did see a brown bear down by the water. The largest concentration of brown bears live there we were told. We also learned that Bald Eagles also make their nests there but they did not put in an appearance that day.  

Reaching the Stephans Passage feeding grounds we didn’t have to wait long to see all sorts of marine life, from sea lions and seals to tons of seagoing birds. Finally, after about an hour with a huge explosion of water and vapor several humpbacks arrived. If you’ve never witnessed these giants in the wild, we have to tell you it was a total thrill. We all agreed that this year we wanted to incorporate some sort of tribal whale pattern onto our Dragon. We plan to come back next year to try and see some killer whales, too.  

Check in next week to see our write-up about the Cannes Dragon Grand Prix, and how we prepped for it.  

Living the Dragon Dream 

Dragon Dreams was organized in 2015 when Dewy, as much an amateur as Patrick and myself are, decided to take our amateur regatta-racing up a notch. We’d all sailed on various makes and models but agreed, Dragons were the elite of the boat lines. We soon learned that Dragon races are not won by sheer brute strength; you have to have some finesse, understand the water and the wind as well as your craft. The best thing about sailing Dragons is they are affordable to any crew without a high six-figure income. Because the Class Rules enable the boats to be trailed and sails/spars can be adjusted while you are racing, you can quickly optimize to conditions faster than on any other sailboat. Dragon Classes are active on five continents and in at least 30 countries. But even if you are not into competition, Dragon sailboats do not disappoint weekend sailors.  

Ride the Back of a Dragon 

If you’ve ever watched a movie, or a television show called Game of Thrones, and wanted to ride on the back of a dragon, I can tell you sailing one is pretty close. Interestingly enough, the Dragon’s designer was a Norwegian woman by the name of Johan Anker (who was an Olympic medalist). Catch a broad reach and watch the dragon take flight over the waves. The sheer power alone will make the sport addictive. And unlike other sailing sports, you can easily crew a Dragon with three people instead of having to hire in heavy muscle.  

In France, which is our home country, the Dragon is very popular and has been for at least 70 years. The Yacht Club de Cannes regularly organized meetings, workshops, and regatta. However, where we are located, in Vannes, we also offer workshops for those interested in learning more about Dragon class sailboats. We schedule weekly outings for those who would like to get a feel for what it is like to ride on the back of a dragon.  

Learn to Sail 

Want to learn to dance with the Dragon? We can teach you how. Sign up for short-term, quick entry weekend workshops in the summer, or commit to a longer 6-week course. In the end, you’ll have your credentials to crew alongside others on a fleet Dragon, meet some of the nicest people on the surface of the water, enjoy an increased level of fitness and get the best of the sun, wind, and waves. Each class is conducted partially in a classroom and then on the water. Learn basic skills involving weather conditions, wind direction, points of sail, and more. Each Dragon has one instructor aboard and two students. Bring your two best friends and create your own Dragon crew. Classes, dates and times are currently being constructed, so check back often. Times and dates are generally in the warmer months to account for the temperature of the water. Weekend courses start at 8:30 am and go until 4:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Extended courses require six to eight weekends, beginning and ending at the same time. After you complete courses you are able to maneuver a basic Dragon within protected waterways. Advanced classes are also available and include advanced sailing techniques and competition strategies.