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.
Dr. Joyce Brothers
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