Friday, February 10, 2012

Bermuda Fitted Dinghy

I've written about the Australian Historical 10 Footer, where they cram 3 sailors into a ten foot hull with bowsprit and enormous sails. Well, not to be outdone, we have the North American equivalent, the Bermuda Fitted Dinghy, where they cram 6 sailors in a fourteen foot hull with bowsprit and enormous sails. I was able to see one live several years ago, out of her element, sitting on the grass of the Washington Mall as part of Bermuda's display in the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival. It looked to be a rather commodious Classic International 14 with not much in the way of interior. There isn't a centerboard trunk as I gather the keel/centerboard is fitted as the Fitted Dingy is launched (hence the term Fitted Dinghy). There are only six still in racing condition in Bermuda with only four making it out to race on a consistent basis. In poking around on the Internet, it looks like two of the Fitted Dinghies are relatively modern builds, being completed in the last twenty years.

One of the odd ducks about Bermuda Fitted Dinghy Racing is they use the racing rules of the late 1800's. A race starts when the crew launches the Fitted Dinghy off a stake boat by pulling on a rope slung over the side of the stake boat. The rule for right of way for boats on opposite tacks heading on a collision course is for both to tack.

The following three videos give a great feel for what it's like to sail on these amazing beasts.

On this video, at the 2:36 mark, they take the spinnaker pole down, and throw it in the water so the trailing boat runs over it. That's some racing trick! Also at the finish it sounds like they play the bagpipes when you cross the line!

Fitted Dinghy Racing - Teaser from Somers Isle Productions on Vimeo.


Baydog said...

Rub a dub dub. Looks like a Penguin with a bowsprit and Log Canoe rig.

doryman said...

A designated bailer. Love it!

Thumbs said...

"...throw it in the water so the trailing boat runs over it. That's some racing trick!..."

Or all that's distastefull of the "win at all costs" pot hunters in the racing fraternity?

George A said...

Great post Tweezerman! The fitted dinghy is so tied up in the Bermudian culture that it's featured on the Bermuda dollar coin. The last time I was on Bermuda I tried to find these dinghies but apparently they only race them in the spring and I was there in mid-July. Alas no fitted dinghies for the diarist--I settled for a big glass of Black Seal instead.

Rupert said...

Nice to see that despite sailing a boat which will sink, no one is being made to wear a Buoyancy aid! Or hasn't that particular piece of H&S hit the USA yet?

As for the "win at all costs" thing, I guess it depends upon the attitude of the boats you are racing against - it may all be seen as part of the game.