INTRODUCTION: In my childhood during the 50s, my father frequently took me sailing on the Duemmer See (site) in Northern Germany in his PIRAT, a 17 foot wooden dinghy with 10 m2 of sail. The Duemmer is a shallow but natural body of inland water, a kind of reed lake, surrounded by the marshy lowlands and bogs & swamps of Lower Saxony. The winds are usually brisk and conditions for dinghy sailing are close to perfect. Despite my youthful appreciation for the sheer beauty of the lake, I remember mostly the two emotions which for me as a youngster dominated these outings: UTTER FEAR and/or TOTAL BOREDOM.
However, unbeknownst to me, there must have been another very positive underlying experience which did not surface until much later in form of this newly found passion which arose quite unexpectedly when I more or less by chance sailed a Sunfish during a family vacation on Cape Cod.
The Sunfish was a blast and my sailing passion was ignited. By the way, as you can see here, the Sunfish is still a fun boat equally suitable for learning, training, racing or simply shooting the breeze.
...and the Pirat of yesteryear is still enjoying quite some popularity (site) throughout Northern Europe albeit as a fibreglass racing dinghy.
NOTE: In order to make best use of the information offered on this page, please begin by clicking on the CRITERIA button as to understand the premise of this page. You will notice that I have included some boats in this lineup which upon further reflection are really more racers than daysailers. In fact, many boats (and its designers) intentionally blur this distinction and, in many cases do so quite successfully. The Comet, Tasar and Snipe are racers which still make very decent daysailers whereas the Buzz and Windmill will be hard pushed in the service of family daysailing.
On the other hand, some dinghies are strictly daysailors while still others lend themselves to even bigger dreams. I came across one delightful and well-written account by Craig Ramage of a cruising adventure on a CL-16 (the Canadian version of a Wayfarer) which is a case in point.
Please note that this is not a commercial page. The material contained herein represents "one person's opinion" and must not be construed as professional advice.
It has been challenging to keep up with many of the links as sailboat manufactures and one-design associations are updating their web sites and products. Maintaining links to other sites is done strictly on an occasional amateur basis.
My first own sailboat was the
made originally by Alcort Sailboats. This boat is now manufactured by Vanguard.
This Zuma is a great starter boat and many sail their
Zuma for years with great enjoyment. The sail area of 65 sq. ft. is a bit smaller than
the sunfish sail of 75 sq.ft. but the cockpit (length=4'9") has a lot more room.
The wide beam (5') and hull design makes for good stability. Still,
the boat zooms along quite nicely and the 129 pound hull can be brought on a plane
rather easily. For me it proved to be the ideal starter. Other great small single-handed
dinghies are the Force 5, Laser and of course the most popular of all, the above
mentioned Sunfish. More recently, a number of exciting small dinghy designs have appeared
on the sailing horizon. So, there are some excellent contenders for getting one's feet
wet and even old salts would enjoy knocking around in the bay.
As for me, I needed a new challenge so, I began looking for a boat in the 14-15 foot range which I later expanded up to the 17-18 foot range.
GOOD NEWS for US dinghy sailors who are looking for modern dinghy design options which have been abundant for years in the UK and Australia but were hard to come by in the US.
Retractable bow-sprints and gennakers will finally become more common even on non-olympic centerboard dinghies. Vanguard Sailboats USA joined forces with Performace Sailcraft Europe and as a result, some exciting new dinghy designs are being marketed in the US.
We wish LaserPerformance much success because this is the kind of company that we have been awaiting for a long time here in the US.
A number of these new products would have fit right in my original search criteria. It seems clear to me that LaserPerformance is a dinghy sailboat and sports sailboat manufacturer for the 21st Century. At last!
Here are some of their new offerings. The gennaker option makes all of these boats very exciting to sail off-wind. For a complete listing of available designs check out their web site.
Another line of boats that are being brought into the US Market are made by RS Sailing. In the US, probably the best known model is the RS Feva, a 12' two-handed, rotomolded polyethelyne dinghy which is becoming increasingly popular among youth sailing programs. It is rugged, modern, exiting and plain fun.
In the same vain, the 15', 275 lbs RS Vision perfectly matches the search criteria of this page. What a great all-around daysailer! It offers all of the modern touches such as mylar main, retracting bow-sprit and asymmatrical chute. If you want more excitement in your RS Vision, you can add a trapeze provision.
The Boat Locker is a Connecticut based company which bills itself as the Largest Small Boat Dealership in the USA. The Feva, Vision as well as other RS designed youth boats are marketed and readily available from this East Coast Dealer.
RS Sailing offers many other more hi-tech dinghies including the fantastic RS100 all the way up to the astonishing RS800. However, with the exception of the RS100, most of these models are not currently being marketed in the US and therefore are only available by special order. It certainly would be welcome news if all of these new RS Sailboat designs would gain ground in the New World.
Another company that must be mentioned here is Melges Performance Sailboats. Scows have dominated inland lakes in sheer speed and power for decades. Yet, while Melges produced modern sports boats such the Melges 24 and 32, the dinghy sphere remained stuck in the "olden days". No longer!
Now, Reichel Pugh has catapulted the basic scow design into the 21st Century with the Melges 17 which I fully expect - much like the Melges 24 - to become a dominant force on this continent. It would appear that this non-trapeze design picks up where the SuperScow 16 and Johnson 18 \ left off. No need to list the specifications. Check out their web site for all the details if you are in the market for a high performance dinghy with newest design features including super light carbon spars, retractable bow-sprit and single-line dousing mast-head gennaker. The high aspect main will provide tremendeous drive in light air yet this boat should still be manageble by a skilled husband-wife team in heavy air - even without trapeze. An open transom would have been preferable but other than that, this is a state-of-the-art dinghy which promises to deliver speed and grins of delight.
I do not know much about the following boats but they would appear to meet the list of criteria in as much as I can tell.
|Designer's Choice||Sparkman Stephens 1977, 1500 built, 14'11", 315 lbs, sails: 120 sq.ft.|
|Town Class||Pert Lowell 1932, 2500 built, 16'6", 800 lbs, 152 sq.ft.|
|Mobjack||Roger Moorman 1961, 550 built, 17', 450 lbs, 180 sq.ft.|
|Hampton One-Design||V.J. Serio 1934, 900 built, 18', 500 lbs, sails: 175 sqft|
|Geary 18||Ted Geary 1928, Star Trainer ? built, 18'1", 525 lbs, sails: 200 sqft|
|Exploration 18||Jean Grenier 1996, 6 built, 680 lbs, sails: 172 sqft|
The following sailboat sites will prove very useful
to anyone in search of information about dinghies:
Dinghy Sailing 101
This wikipedia page provides a great start for anyone interested in comprehensive information about dinghy sailing.
Mark Rosenstein's Sailing Page
Every E-sailor should have this site bookmarked.
It is a valuable resource well worthy of exploration.
Great Lakes Small Boat Sailing Museum
The Great Lakes Small Boat Sailing Museum is dedicated to the preservation and sharing of the great maritime heritage
with people of all ages. Exhibits consist of donated boats which have been restored into operational condition. Sailboat rides
are offered. The Museum is based an hour north of Grand Rapids MI and also has an exhibit in Xenia, OH.
- This site offers an excellent list of current international one-design sailboat classes.
- Sailboat Data is one of the most comprehensive surveys of sailboats of all shapes and sizes. It is a
- For those who are interested in boat owners opinions on their boats, you may find
the SailNET Boatcheck site highly useful.
- BoatingLinks.com is a complete directory of Boating Links for boaters who wish to compare boats, charters,
products, and information sources available on the web.
My Idea of Fun
Having had the chance to visit Sydney Harbor, I had the opportunity to see these Formula 1 skiffs race. Not exactly
the kind of boat this page is dedicated to... but then, it helps to understand the extreme range of dinghy sailing
before honing in on specific search criteria.
Nokia screems downwind
Nokia in heavy air