Designing the Premier Dragon

The design process of the Premier Dragon is similar to that of an America´s Cup boat. Both scenarios involve a team of highly trained professionals working closely together and setting up targets, scientifically approaching concepts and evaluating contenders. This is done in order to discover the highest performance and overall top quality boat whilst ensuring that it is kept within guidelines.  


The design team is made up of architects with extensive experience in naval architecture, specialists and structural engineers.

Andy Claughton from the Wolfson Unit was resposible for the hull, keel and rudder design of the Premier Dragon. He graduated from the University of Southampton with an Honors degree in Ship Science. He then began working on projects such as the America’s Cup and was involved in various Round the World challenges. He was also design coordinator for Team New Zealand’s 2007 Cup challenge in Valencia. He is now involved in the design of the British America´s Cup challenger for the 35th America`s Cup. 

Paolo Manganelli, a senior engineer at Gurit headed up the role as structural engineeer of the Premier Dragon. Manganelli, a Dragon sailor himself, had access to the Gurit database and the empirical values collected over the years. He was tasked to focus on the geometrical constraints and calculations to ensure the boat was as stiff as possible and structurally optimized. 

Klaus Roeder from Carpe Diem Yacht Design was in charge of the research and design coordination to ensure that the Premier Dragon was rule compliant. He worked closely with Andy Claughton and Paolo Manganelli. He has extensive experience within the Dragon class due to his close work with the Boat yard Markus Glas, Germany. Klaus initially trained as a boat builder and then went on to study Yacht & Powercraft Design at Southampton Solent University.


Realize a boat design that truly measures as a dragon

Build a high quality boat 

Produce a product that stands out in the fleet for both speed and looks.

Deliver tuned boats out of the boat yard

Quantify the gains

Work scientifically rather than through guesswork to produce a Dragon with real advantages that may be quantified, verifiable in scientific terms, meaning that they are sustained by calculations.


Initially seven different hull and keel configurations were tested using VPP (velocity prediction program). The two most successful were then  refined further and aimed to challenged the design Klaus Roeder had realized for the Markus Glas Boat Yard. The two designs were then optimized until they performed above its competitors. Andy Claughton was in charge of the scientific part of the design process. 

It was then Klaus Roeders job to reshape the Dragon design accoringly. Andy Claughton then gave specifications on what the design should look like and Roeder adjusted the shape of the boat accordingly. Paoloa Manganelli used Roeder’s data to engineer the fiber reinforcement and the layout of the structure. Their main objective in doing this was to hit the target weights set out by the rules.

Manganelli ensured that the boat would exhibit the maximum global stiffness. The deck and hull shell play a major part in ensuring this as the inner mold only accounts for a small amount of stiffness. Manganelli`s work also focused on ensuring minimum bending of the structure, following that a stiffer boat will display a longer wetted surface which results in a higher possibility of speed gain. 


Whilst the first six Premier Dragon Prototypes were only produced with a sportive coach roof, the serial production boats can be ordered with either the sportive or classic design. 


The sportive coach roof was developed to allow the crew to hike comfortable more outboard providing a bigger righting moment when sailing upwind in a strong breeze. 

This cockpit version is also wider and more spacious giving extra room to the crew in the manouvers. 

One of the innovative technical features of this sportive design is the genoa car system that allows very precise control of this important sheeting point. 


The classic coach roof design follows the design from 1929. This design provides the helmsmann with a feeling of more stability and security especially during strong wind conditions.