8/10 hobie 405
In the 1950s, 'Teddy' Haylock the editor of Yachting World magazine recognized the need for a new, economical sail training dinghy and commissioned boat builder Jack Holt to design one. Haylock specified for it to be a complete miniature yacht with mainsail, jib and spinnaker, and this concept was brought to life by Holt as the International Cadet. In its history, this boat has inspired many of the racing yachtsmen including Olympic medallists.
Built in plywood, the Cadet is similar in design to the Optimist but designed for two juniors. It opens training much further than the single handed trainers as the jib and spinnaker have to be mastered, making the entry to larger and exhilarating racing boats. The boat is small and physically impossible for an adult to sail one making it essential that a teenaged skipper take on and train a younger crew.
Jack Holt's was asked to collaborate with Barry Bucknell, who had devised a new way of assembling a small boat using glass fibre tape to join sheets of plywood. From this collaboration, emerged one of the more successful small boats, the Mirror dinghy. Although not designed as a sail training dinghy, the Mirror has filled that role, as it is one of the smallest boats in which an adult can sit while instructing a junior.
The Mirror sports a mainsail, jib and spinnaker, but the sails are larger than the Cadet so the Mirror is able to carry more weight. Light enough to car-top; the Mirror earns the title of multipurpose dinghy, being as capable of carrying a family on a picnic or turning out for club races at weekends.
The developing teenager has increased physical strength and a desire for independence, which is suited to a two person youth dinghy. The best known and one that has been used for international youth competition over the years, is the 420.
Having an uninspiring design, it is however a pure racing boat and introduces the young sailor to other important new skills.
In addition to a reasonably sized spinnaker the 420 is equipped with a trapeze for the crew, bringing with it the need for agility and coordination between the skipper and crew. Sophisticated rig controls, that are not possible on a boat as the Mirror, make their appearance along with a proper understanding of these for anyone intending to go on to 'serious' racing.
In Britain, the Royal Yachting Association saw the need for a new high-performance youth dinghy which resulted in the Hobie 405, which is noticeably bigger and faster than the Cadet but smaller than the 420, which causes overlaps in the marketplace. However, the 405 design looks forward to the modern era of high-performance planing dinghies rather than the older designs.
Many international youth events are now held in the Laser 2, which signifies another step up in size and performance with the result that schools, colleges and parents are presented with a bewildering choice of youth boats, and reluctance to spend in the region of £4,000 per boat.
Adults learning to sail, will use the one-on-one teaching method and a stable dinghy as the Wayfarer. Being expensive but lasting for many years they form the backbone of many sailing schools. Due to its size and stability, a Wayfarer dinghy carries two or three students plus instructor, also being seaworthy enough for coastal sailing.
At 18, the keen young dinghy sailor moves on to one of the high performance dinghies or as crew on a larger boat. They may well become involved in university team racing sailing, which appeared to be dying out, is making a strong recovery with college teams being a worldwide sport.
The type of boat used for team racing, is not the important thing but simple but sturdy two person dinghies such as the Firefly, Lark or Enterprise are the preferred vessel. The type of team race is for teams comprising three boats, with major regattas having a dozen or more teams that are eliminated in a competition until the two top teams compete with each other over a three race final.
The races are short but passionate, with aggressive manoeuvring aiming to obstruct their opponents with tactics not usually allowed in normal racing. Knowledge of the rules, good boat handling and quick thinking are the qualities required in team racing. Sailors having honed these qualities while at university are in demand in the world of yacht racing.