Winning Boats & Sailors
A P&T Dragon wins an Olympic Gold Medal - the crew helped too!
Over the years of production and for some time afterwards, Pedersen & Thuesen Dragons dominated sailing results amongst the international racing community. A select number in the hands of the leading racers accumulated many winners’ burgees. DEN 140 Josephine was built in 1957 for Henning Jensen, who won the 1965 Gold Cup in her; she came to the UK in 1960 as GBR 333. In 1966 GBR 337 Pendragon was bought second-hand by James Dunbar-Naismith, an architect who sailed with the Forth fleet and who transported her around the regattas on a cradle trolley in the back of a converted furniture removal van; what stories that van could tell! She also sank at her mooring whilst buyer and seller were doing a deal in a nearby pub. Mr & Mrs JA Caulcutt, JMF Crean & Col TV Somers of the Solent fleet together bought GBR 313 Venture new in 1959; the following year they won the Edinburgh Cup and were the Solent Class Champions.
In 1962 DEN 154 Bim came to the Solent fleet, having been bought by Simon Tait, who renamed her GBR 375 Blue Haze. In her he was Solent Class Champion in 1963 and 1965, Cowes Week winner in 1964 and 1965 and Edinburgh Cup and European Championships winner in 1965. In 1961 Axel Holm bought his new Pedersen & Thuesen Dragon, called her DEN 162 Maj-Brit and in 1965 set the fastest time in the Round Zealand Race. Pat Dyas became a well known Dragon racer and in 1962 he bought his first Jerboa, GBR 374 to Burnham on Crouch. He sold her in 1968 to David Young of the Forth fleet, who won the 1970 Edinburgh Cup in her.
Another well known racer was Bill Citron and he bought GBR 392 Nortic (Citron spelt backwards!) in 1963 from the yard, was third in that year’s Edinburgh Cup and he became Solent Class Champion the following year. In 1972 Cameron Good of the Cork fleet bought GBR 405 Triton; he became the Irish South Coast Champion in her in 1972, 1973 and 1976; was third in the 1975 Edinburgh Cup and won the 1975 Irish Championships. She had been bought new by J Holmes of the Lowestoft fleet in 1964.
Amazingly, Pedersen & Thuesen Dragons are still being sailed very competitively, not just at club level but particularly in international regattas. This is testament to the skill and thoroughness with which they were first made. Their longevity perhaps owes a good deal to the use of resorcinol adhesive in their construction, which has kept the carvel planked hulls stiff and tight. Of course much else has changed in the world of competitive Dragons, so these racers now sport alloy spars, mast rams, fine as well as course sheets, winchless systems, usually renovated decks, often in teak and some added stiffening around the mast and shroud plates.
The stainless steel frame fitted to Meteor to spread the increased loads of a modern mast and rig
DEN 138 Eva II was built in 1957 for Børge Andersen. Today she is owned by Lars Hendricksen, Børge’s great nephew and in her he won the 2007 Gold Cup and still regularly competes in her, often reaching the podium. Børge Andersen was used by his friends Børge and Poul as a promoter on the international regatta circuit, since he was a fluent English speaker and well known to existing and potential customers. DEN 162 Maj-Brit is today owned and campaigned by Frank Berg, who bought her back from Australia, restored her and then raced her to top three places in Gold Cups and European Championships. DEN 166 White Lady, the famed Olympic gold medal winning Dragon is now owned and raced by Prince Henrick of Denmark. Tim Colman of Lowestoft bought GBR 348 Salar II new in 1961. Today she is raced as NED 412 Troika by Peter Heerama and is often faster than her modern contemporaries.
A lovely shot of gold medalist Ole being towed in White Lady
Another successful Olympian sailor was Australian John Cuneo. He had been part of the Australian Olympic team at the Mexico Olympics and was not satisfied with coming fifth. He decided to go all out for the 1972 Munich Olympics. He was a most particular racer and known as 'Mr Millimeter' due to his meticulous boat preparation. Sailing the 1967 Pedersen & Thuesen Dragon AUS 131 Wyuna John achieved his goal, returning to Queensland with a gold medal.
John Cuneo, Tom Anderson & Jon Shaw after winning their Gold Medal final race 1972