The Dinghy Show

Toby Heppell casts his eye over this year's exhibits

Tuesday March 4th 2008, Author: Toby Heppell, Location: United Kingdom
The RYA Dinghy Sailing Show has again unofficially opened the UK’s dinghy sailing season. As usual there was the great mix of classes from beautiful classic wooden boats to top of the range high performance racers which makes the show at Alexandra Palace such a draw for so many sailors.

We felt the event was a little weaker with the lack of either the 12ft or 18ft Skiffs along with a number of other classes that chose not to attend. However, their absence was more than made up with plenty to see and do and perhaps more Olympians and famous faces than we have ever seen at the show before. Here's a few things that caught our eye (with more to come on the site in the coming week or two):

Although Selden, the rig company, had their own stand it was on a select number of other stands that the really interesting bits were on display. On the National 12 class’ stand and on the new Morrison 13 International 14 on the Ovington Boats stand were a number of innocuous but cool looking fittings. On closer inspection it was clear the fittings had Selden branding on them, could this be a move into the fittings world by the company?

Richard Gibson of Selden explained to TheDailySail they have been making a number of fittings in house for testing purposes for many years. Recently, the company has come to the decision to manufacture the fittings on a commercial scale and sell them to the general public. Included in the range will be blocks of various sizes as well as a number of cam cleats and swivel cleats.

We thought these looked like pretty cool bits of kit and will go down a treat with the dinghy community - despite this being a very competitive market. Of course most of us will have to wait a while before we can get our hands on them as the range is not officially launched by the company until (probably) the Southampton Boat Show in the autumn.

Map My Tracks
On one of the smaller stands, were an outfit called MapMyTracks. The company has developed a simple piece of computer software designed to work in conjunction with the GPRS receiver on your mobile phone. This allows spectators to follow racing in real time or the sailors to review their sailing at a later date for training purposes.

It is worth noting that MapMyTracks is not a sailing specific company and as such they have interests over a diverse range of fields, though it does lend itself to the sailing market very well indeed. The only major problem is that most mobile phones are not water-proof, however, there are many decent waterproof bags on the market that should do the trick.

The tracking data can either be displayed on a computer or viewed on a mobile phone, though we suspect the later will be used the least at this stage for sailors.

The software is available for use on a month by month, timed basis and is free for 1 hour of use every month. There are two priced options; £5.99 will buy you five hours whilst £10.99 buys you unlimited use for the month. “If you are going to a weekend event then £5.99 will be enough but if you are doing several events or a week-long event you just pay £10.99 for unlimited use for that month. There is no contract or re-signing involved, if you only ever want to use it once that is fine,” explained Nick Tatt of parent company, Tinderhouse.

Alto Dinghy
We have been hearing rumblings about this boat for some time now and to some extent knew what to expect when we stepped onto the Alto stand. In essence, the Alto was designed to provide an up-to-date racing dinghy with one trapeze without wings or racks. The boat originates from the 505 and it clearly owes a lot to its parent design. Despite not having the distinctive large foredeck and many other changes such as a chine the boat is still clearly a modified 5oh.

Significantly for a boat that wants to hark back to an earlier time in dinghy design the Alto has an asymmetric spinnaker. However, this is an asymmetric with a difference we are told as the Alto has an articulating Altopole which is able to swing a significant distance to windward allowing the boat to run dead downwind.

The boat has been four years in the making and the build quality looks high. We are also big fans of the 505 so theoretically we should like this. However, when looking at the boat we did keep asking ourselves why it existed at all. The two simple facts we could not quite escape were the fact that if we wanted to sail a 505 we would go out and sail a 505. Also, and most perplexingly, there is a reason the asymmetric spinnaker came about. We have never been big fans on a canting asymmetric concept on any dinghy, such as the one on the RS400. The Altopole canting all the way to windward to allow dead running is a concept we struggle to get on board with for a high performance planning dinghy.

Of course asymmetrics are easier to handle and we are sure there will be some people that are thrilled to find the boat of their dreams; perhaps it will serve a particular niche very well.

As if it was ever going to be otherwise, this year was the year of the foiler in many respects at the RYA Dinghy Sailing Show. Of course the International Moth class stand had one of the latest designs in the form of Mike Cook’s Axiom V4 which was acquiring a great deal of attention. However, there were another three Moths of various guises throughout the show.

The Bladerider Moth was to be found on the Spinlock stand whilst the brand new Adam May and Dave Chisholm Veloceraptor Moth was unveiled to an impressed crowd (more on this boat to come). Finally Simon Payne was present on the main stage to give a talk about foiling and his new Fastacraft boat was accompanying him. Payne’s talk was hugely well attended and by our estimate (plus what we are told about the talk we missed) it was the biggest of the show. Finally the much discussed RS600ff was proudly on display this year (after missing the show last year) and was present on the RS stand who are now fully supporting the class (again more on this to come).

International 14
This was another class with multiple boats throughout the show, all attracting a great many people drooling over them. Rob and Peter Greenhalgh’s boat on the Holt stand was looking good with Holt fittings from tip to toe, as it were.

The International 14 stand itself was heavily advertising their recent initiative to give away three boats for one year to teams under 30 (read more about that here). However, the newest bit of 14 kit was on the Ovington Boats stand where a new International 14 was on its transom. As we have mentioned the boat was decked out in Selden fittings, more or less the only thing to look at on it with a lack or rig, rigging or foils. We originally thought this to be the new Morrison 13 from Ovington Boats but further investigation shows this not to be the case.

Some notables
Also catching our eye were a number of boats that had clearly been lavished on by their owners – and were an example to us all to up our game when it comes to boat bimbling!

The Merlin Rocket stand, for example had a bright orange Merlin, clearly designed as a tribute to General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard. In addition to being the brightest boat at the show it was clearly going for the ‘most rope’ prize with meters of the stuff controlling everything imaginable. They may well have been going for most annoying stand too with fully working air horn (it took us a while to work out where all that noise was coming from).

On the Firefly stand was a beautiful wooden boat that we thought looked surprisingly modern, especially considering it was built in 1948. Also vying for the prettiest wooden boat was a fabulous all wood Contender on the International Contender stand.

The Wrap:

Finally we thought finishing the show with a parade for National Champions was a fantastic idea and one we hope to see again in the future. We felt it helped give the show a clear ending and we were thrilled to see so many champions in attendance. All in all, another fantastic show.

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