Taming the Dragon, by Chris Kraft.


I’m currently in Hamburg and find myself naturally gravitating towards the water, which seems to be everywhere. The city’s success was founded upon trade due to its waterways. It has many canals and around 2500 bridges – more than Amsterdam, Venice and London combined. Access to the North Sea is through the river Elbe. Hamburg is Europe’s 3rd largest port in volume after Rotterdam and Antwerp despite being 120km from the ocean. Its original free trade zone – the Speicherstadt – was built in 1883 and remains the largest continuous warehouse district in the world and still moves vast amounts of the world’s coffee, cocoa, and spices and interestingly, a third of the worlds Persian carpet production. The red face-brick buildings, built upon thousands of wooden oak piles, is well worth seeing.

But it’s boats and old ships that interest me most and I can’t help but admire the many wooden Jolle’s (dinghy’s) sailing about on Lake Alster. Most seemed to be classic boats and upon closer inspection turned out to be Dragons, a keel boat designed way back in the late 1920’s by the renowned Norwegian boat designer and sailor, Johan Anker.
Their sleek sexy lines, uncluttered deck and large sail plan made me itch for a sail.

“I’d love to sail one of those around the lake,” I thought. And then out of curiosity mailed Micky at RCYC membership to see if we had reciprocity in the area. She mailed me back saying yes indeed and I should make contact with the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein or NRV for short, which I duly did. In no time I found myself being shown around the impressive club by their delegate for International Affairs, Mr. Wolfgang Weber and in typical German efficiency, was racing on a Dragon the following evening.

We had a gentle 10-12kts of breeze and around 30 other identical boats jockeying for the very same start line, which was rather exciting. The racing is close and jovial not unlike our race Wednesdays.

Cityscapes seen from the water always make for the best views and I thought how amazing it is to be in Europe, in summer, and what a privilege it is indeed to be a sailor and be bound by a common love of wind, water and waves no matter where in the world you are.

Norddeutscher Regatta Verein

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