Friday, January 2, 2009

How the English do it in the Winter

In the northern latitudes of the United States, when winter comes the dinghy sailor either;

  1. Packs it in until spring.
  2. For those really up north, pulls out the ice boat for some hard water racing.
  3. Makes a trip to, hopefully, warm and sunny Florida or California for the class midwinters.
  4. For New England or the Mid-Atlantic dinghy enthusiasts, buy a Laser or Sunfish, a comfy drysuit, warm sailing gloves and boots, and frostbite.
The English, on the other hand, with their smorgasbord of dinghies, run very large handicap events throughout the winter. When it comes to a variety of dinghy classes, no one can trump the English.

From one of the most prolific dinghy sailing videographers on YouTube, Englishman Shockwave40 , with over 120 videos, we view various singlehander classes racing at the Brass Monkey Handicap at Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club . He captures a diversity of designs, both old and new.

  1. We start with the Laser Vortex, a small catamaran designed by Jo Richards, with solid deck, an assymetric spinnaker and trapeze. 
  2. Next is the Internatonal Contender, designed by Ben Lexcen; the first of the trapeze singlehander classes. Wood hulls are still very popular in this class. 
  3. The Musto skiff appears next. The latest generation in singlehanded design with trapeze, racks, and assymetric spinnaker.
  4. Next up, a conventional hiking dinghy, the Phantom dinghy is one of many English singlehander designs that occupy the same slice of the sailing market (12' -14' hiking singlehander) now dominated by the Laser. The Phantom was designed by Paul Wright and Brian Taylor in 1971.
  5. OK dinghy follows. The OK dinghy was designed by Knud Olsen of Denmark in 1958. It was initially the build it yourself trainer for the Olympic Finn. The Laser killed the OK dinghy in North America but the OK Dinghy still remains a very popular international class. See this OK Website for some great photos.
  6. With the OK, rounding on the inside, is the Topper scow, designed by Ian Proctor in 1969. It was one of the first Injected Thermoplastic designs. When it was first introduced, the Topper was raced by both adults and juniors. Today the Topper is primarily the mid junior singlehander for England, the next step from the Optimist.
  7. Finally, we have the ubiquitous Laser, the one class you could truly say that you will find at least one at almost any sailing club, anywhere in the world.

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