January 29, 2019
Tips For Buying A Sailing Dinghy. Buying a sailing dinghy is not just a big investment, but also a lifestyle choice. With so many dinghies to choose from, the great news is that there’s a dinghy out there for everyone! The following guide shares a few of my personal thoughts, which should help you to navigate through the various dinghy classes and types. So let’s get started with just three key considerations.
Tips For Buying A Sailing Dinghy
- What will you be using the dinghy for? Are you looking for a dinghy to help improve your overall fitness, to use for cruising or to compete on.
- Who will you be sailing with you? ‘Single handed’ and ‘Double handed’ dinghies are the most common. In normal speak, that’s either sailing on your own or with someone else!
- What can you comfortably sail?
Single handers. Just a few of my dinghy favourites.
If you’re new to sailing and looking to buy a single handed dinghy, then you may want to consider a Topper, Laser Pico or even a Laser Standard. The latter is a great starting point as the sail size comes in various sizes (4.7, radial and standard), enabling you to take on a bigger sail as you develop. Kids tend to love the Optimist, RS Feva and RS Tera which have a great following, are fun, tough (important!) and easy to sail.
As you get to master these dinghies, you may want to consider something a little more challenging. The Solo is a great stepping stone, followed by the RS Aero and RS 300.
And now for the exciting step (and point of no return!). Both the RS700 and Musto Skiff are phenomenal boats. You’ll move away from painful hiking to trapezing! They come complete with an asymmetric spinnaker too, which means you’ll hurtle past other fleets and classes!
This then leaves the ultimate single handed dinghy, the foiling International Moth. Whilst the price tag is eyewatering, it’s seriously fast, requires an immense amount skill, and to sail well, a good level of fitness. A more affordable version is the Waszp.
Double handers. Just a few of my dinghy favourites.
Now dinghy world is somewhat saturated with double handed dinghies. Which is a real shame as it has diluted the fleets. Which if you’re looking to race is not a good thing!
Entry level double handed dinghies to buy, which are fun to race include the RS200 and its slightly bigger brother, the RS400. Both come complete with a mainsail, jib and asymmetric spinnaker, and in the UK have a great following.
Other popular dinghies, which opt for symmetric spinnaker include the Merlin Rocket, National 12, Scorpion and Enterprise. Whilst equally fun, I personally find it more challenging to sail a symmetric spinnaker as there’s plenty to do when gybing!
If you’re looking for something a bit easier on your crew, then consider a dinghy without a spinnaker, like the Taser (a great boat to sail and notably popular in the UK and Australia).
Onwards and upwards. The Fireball is a great stepping stone to something a bit more challenging. Its narrow width makes it particularly tippy, but once mastered, it’ll go like a rocket!
Talking about rockets (!), if you’re looking to skip across the water, then either the 29er (which has a strong youth following), RS800, International 14, 49er classes will be the ones to consider. Complete with an asymmetric spinnaker, the 29er has a trapeze for the crew, the RS800, International 14 and 49er dinghies are twin trapeze. Simply awesome!
Whilst they’re large and typically sail in straight lines (opps did I really say that!), catamarans are definitely worth considering. They’re ridiculously fast, but just don’t capsize one, as they can be an absolute nightmare to get upright again! Entry level catamarans include the Dart16, progressing onto the Dart18, Hobie, and if you’ve got a fresh pair of pants packed (!), the Nacra.
Oh, and last but not least, our cruisers. These larger cruising dinghies like the Laser Stratos and Wayfarer can accommodate up to six sailors. Making a great day out!
To save upsetting anyone, these are my personal views and recommendations. I’m bound to have forgotten many awesome dinghy brands. For which I apologise.
When buying a new dinghy, I would also recommend:
- Visiting a boat show, seeing all that is on offer, and book a test sail. The UK RYA Dinghy Show and the Southampton Boat Show are great starting points. But most countries will have a dinghy show of some kind…
- Every decent sailing club should have class (fleet) representatives and/or Captains. They should be happy to help you out. Alternatively, just approach someone on the beach and ask them all about their boat. We’re all passionate about what we do, so don’t be afraid to ask…
- If you’re looking to become a serious racer, then I’d review the Yachts and Yachting National Championship attendance table: https://www.yachtsandyachting.com/class/. This’ll give you the heads up on the most popular racing fleets.
- When viewing a boat, bring a dinghy sailor along with you. They’ll be able to spot and flag anything of concern. If something looks knackered, then be sure to check out the cost of replacing it!
- You’ll want to check the condition of the:
- Hull: Look for deep scratches/ damage. The hull should be stiff, strong and airtight.
- Sails: The cloth should have a nice shape and be stiff. Floppy and misshapen sails are a sign of age and will significantly affect performance. Spinnakers really ought to make a lovely crisp sound (like tracing paper does when crinkled).
- Centreboard slot: I’ve been caught out here! Check for cracks.
- Mast and rigging: Make sure that they are not misshapen.
- Be sure to check out upforsail.com for dinghies and kit available for sale.
I hope these Tips For Buying A Sailing Dinghy have been of use. If so, please help others by liking and sharing it.
Happy sailing 🙂