Saturday, May 28, 2016

New Zealand Zephyr Singlehander Dinghy

Here is another 11 foot singlehander, just like the Classic Moth, though it is a one-design class. The Zephyr is a New Zealand only class, designed in 1956 by Des Townson. They celebrated their seventy year anniversary this year with an 80 boat National Championship, which shows the class is doing something right. This is definitely one of those Retro singlehanders surging into a current day renaissance, despite all the online squawking about the need for "modern singlehanders".

Some of the 80 Zephyrs lined up on the beach of the Manly Sailing Club, Auckland, NZ, for the 2016 Nationals.

A classic dinghy shape from 1956, the Zephyr has a Vee'd transom. This one is fully kitted out with modern accoutrements such as a tactical compass, carbon tiller, blades fully protected in their bags.

The class is just in the process of legalizing fiberglass hulls but up to this point, all hulls have been cold-molded (a few have been strip planked) from one class approved mold. The decking, as shown, is substantial and sturdy. Minimum weight of the hull is not super-light, 58 kg (127lbs. - still lighter than a Laser).

The Zephyr has a lowish roach, full battened sail on a stayed aluminium mast that is stepped on the deck.

And, yes, they do look to be quite a lively planing boat when the wind comes up.

Zephyr Class Association.

Kiwi Neil Kennedy emailed me with these observations on the Zephyr dinghy:
"Above 15kn's a Zephyr, which is a quite powerful boat,  would be able match a Classic Moth although the Europe dinghy hulls, with their international moth style rigs and 80 sq ft of SA, would match a Zephyr in the same breeze. By the way the biggest age group at the recent nationals was (50-59) ( Ah! The "silver fleet" is where the action is).


Alden Smith said...

Ouite fortuitous for me this posting. I have just returned from racing my Starling (Another Des Townson design mainly for juniors just coming out of Optimists or the NZ P Class yacht) Although there is no age restriction on Starlings I am too heavy and therefore uncompetitive. The Zephyr is the next step up and better fits my size and weight - AND - better suits my age - most of the current Zephyr owners are old codgers like me (I am 65) and have a rip roaring time sailing and racing together. The only draw back is price - they are pretty expensive, but I think this is my next centreboard yacht.

Tweezerman said...


Thanks for the info. A 3.35 meter hull makes it hard sometime to get the longitudinal displacement to support heavy skippers but the older, higher rocker designs seem to do an admirable job of accommodating a wide range of weights.