Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Memories, good and bad.

Back in late 1977 I joined Brian & Pam Saffrey-Cooper's crew running the front half of his Contention 30 "Buccaneer", that however was not the end game. That autumn there were meetings including one very long and late one at The Chequers Inn, Lymington, with Doug Peterson one of America's leading yacht designers, to finalise the design and layout of a new 1/2 tonner to be built for Brian (AKA "Hooter") by the Elephant Boatyard at Bursledon. Brian was a timber importer so she was built in the finest Western Red Cedar on Sitka Spruce and was very light but strong.

She was launched just before Easter, but a major problem cropped up in trying to find a name for her; Brian, who was rather superstitious and liked to have boat names ending in "eer" as in Buccaneer and his previous 1/2 tonner, a Norlin designed Scampi  "Racketeer" (not that good a name for a businessman!). The crunch came when a name had to be found to get the boat measured for her rating, they passed a pub called "The Green Dragon", green was Brian's lucky colour and already chosen for the hull colour so the name was decided.

Green Dragon on the way to winning our division
in the Round the Island race 1979. I am sitting out
waiting for the next sail change.
Although we did not manage to achieve our goal of winning the 1/2 ton cup, either at Pool in 1978 or in Scheveningen in 1979 when we suffered rudder failure, or even to come out as top UK boat in those events, but we did win the selection trials from 50+ competitors in 1978 (which was an off year for the Admirals Cup) and finished 7th in the event from 50. Overall she was the most successful British 1/2 tonner in 1978, 1979 and 1980 (I did not sail on her in 1980 but returned to help Brian get his one tonner "Dragon" into the winning Admirals cup team in 1981). She won the division in RORC, Solent Points and British Level Rating Association series in all three years - believed to be a first. We also won the RORC yacht of the year award in 79.
My favourite headline from 1979. Bob was a little biased, he
crewed for Brian & Pam on Racketeer, I think his introduction
to offshore sailing after very successful campaigns in dinghies
and crewing for Reg White winning the Little America's cup
for "C Class" Catamarans.
Then about 5 years ago, after I got my own half tonner as a gift to myself on my second retirement, Green Dragon was run down on her mooring, this from Doug Peterson's office after I shared the picture on Facebook (neither Brian or Doug lived to see her demise):

Then to cap it all she sank and last year(?) these pics came out.:

Such a shame to see such a beautifully made boat end up like this.



No comments:

Post a Comment