Sydney Hobart Yacht Race a Warm-Up for the Winner of the Australian Dragon National Championship

David Chapman returned to Sydney after sailing into overall first place in the prestigious Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with Sam Haynes in the TP52 Celestial, just to take the gold again in the Prince Philip Cup – Australian Championship for the International Dragon Class.

The 2023 Australian Championship for the International Dragon Class was presented by IDA NSW and hosted at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS) on Sydney Harbour in the first week of January.

The regatta is a Grade 1 event on the International Dragon Association calendar. The regatta combines the 3-race series for the Ted Albert Memorial Cup and the 8-race series for the Prince Philip Cup. The International Dragon Class is a former Olympic Class keel boat and is considered by many worldwide as the thoroughbred of one-design keel boat racing.

Thirteen yachts attended the regatta – three from Western Australia, two from Tasmania, two from Victoria and six from New South Wales. The three entrants from WA trailered their yachts across 3,500km of desert to reach Sydney Harbour. It’s a five-day journey there and back, and it showed an enormous commitment to participate from these teams.

RSYS Dragon Ted Albert Memorial Series, 2 January 2023 – Ascalon (DAUS209)

The Ted Albert Memorial Cup Series was sailed in classic sunny north-easterly conditions with three races on that day in an upwind/downwind format. The racing was an early indicator of the results throughout the week of the regatta, with Nick Rogers from Tasmania on Karabos IX AUS 205 taking out first place, David Chapman from New South Wales on Ascalon AUS 209 in second place and Damien Daniel from Victoria on Imagination AUD 179 in third place.

The Ted Albert Cup was donated by Ted Albert, who was a keen Dragon sailor and twice winner of the Prince Philip Cup. He is an iconic Australian who founded the Albert Record label and went on to promote rock & roll bands and popular music from its infancy in Australia. Ted Albert’s protégés in the music arena included the Easybeats, AC/DC and John Paul Young.

The Prince Philip Cup races were sailed on Tuesday, January 3, to Saturday, January 7, with a lay-day on Thursday, January 5. As it turned out, the lay-day coincided with a major change in the weather, with Tuesday and Wednesday enjoying north-easterly breezes of around 15 knots and sunny days before the weather turned to the south and south-east for the balance of the regatta with breezes of 25-30 knots and plenty of rain.

The change in weather conditions provided an opportunity to test the boats and crews in a variety of conditions, and particularly on Friday, January 6, the heavy breezes made for some exciting racing. David Chapman was heard to comment that he did not realise “Dragons could get up and plane”!

The results of the Prince Philip Cup, in which all eight races were sailed and with one “drop,” were as follows:

  1. Ascalon AUS 209 | 8 Points | David Chapman (Helm) Crew: Robert Wilmot, Annie Wilmot and Charlotte Griffunder
  2. Trio AUS 130 | 16 Points | Matt Whinall (Helm) Crew: Michael Bartley and Peter Bevis
  3. Karabos IX AUS 205 | 18 Points | Nick Rogers (Helm) Crew: Leigh Brehens and Chris Steilberg

Accordingly, Ascalon AUS 209 with David Chapman and crew won the Prince Philip Cup. Trio AUS 130, which is owned by Michael (Wally) Bartley and is a beautifully maintained wooden Dragon built c.1964, won the Prince Philip Cup Corinthian Trophy and the Jack Ayres/Ediss Boyes Trophy for the first wooden Dragon in the Prince Philip Cup.

David Chapman has an enviable sailing record. In October 2022, he won the Polish Match Racing Championships in the Grade 2 Match Racing Tour, and in August he was integral to the six out of six success of Hollywood in the Div 3 Class in the Hamilton Island Race Week. It was a family-friendly team that he raced with for the 2023 Prince Philip Cup, with uncle Robert Wilmot, cousin Annie Wilmot and visiting German friend Charlotte Griffunder.

All the competitors agreed that the race management undertaken by RSYS Sailing Manager Rob Ridley, Race Officer Ian Kingsford-Smith and the volunteers was first class, and the hosting of the regatta at RSYS was excellent. They did a fantastic job in looking after everyone throughout the regatta.

In addition to the fine sailing experienced on Sydney Harbour, IDA NSW hosted two delightful on-shore events. A Welcome Cocktail Party on the terrace of Richard Franklin’s house in Mosman provided a fabulous opportunity for a team photo of all the participating sailors. It was noted that there was a significant increase in the number of women making up the crew on many of the yachts, including one all-female team sailing Sandy Anderson’s Plum CrazyAUS 185.

The second event was the Awards Night held at the RSYS. Over 100 people, comprised of sailors, family and friends, attended the seated dinner. Everyone enjoyed the presence of veteran Dragon sailor and former Olympian Gordon Ingate. As usual, the 96-year-old Gordon entertained with his wealth of sailing anecdotes.

The full race results for the Ted Albert Cup and Prince Philip Cup may be viewed online.

The next Prince Philip Cup for the Australian International Dragon Class will be held at Metung, Victoria, in January 2024.