Dinghy racing

From Academic Kids

Dinghy racing is the competitive sport of sailing dinghies. Racing is influential in forcing the individual sailor to improve his/her sailing skills. Dinghy racing has also been influential in efficiently developing all aspects of the modern dinghy, including hull design, sail materials and sailplan, and techniques such as planing and trapezing.


Organisation of Dinghy Racing

An International Sport

Dinghy racing comes under the auspices of the International Sailing Federation. [1] (http://www.sailing.org)

Organisations such as the Royal Yachting Association (UK) and Canadian Yachting Association (Canada) organise and regulate the sport at a national level. [2] (http://www.rya.org.uk) [3] (http://www.sailing.ca)

Sailing dinghies compete on an international, national, state, association, club and class basis, using the ISAF International Racing Rules of Sailing, which are revised every four years.

Single-Handed or More than One Crew

While many dinghies are single handed (one person only) such as the Laser, many are double handed such as the 470, 5O5, Heron, Tasar or NS14 and some have more than two sailors such as the Thistle. Some classes allow children to sail double handed until a particular age and then require them to compete single handed. Some double handed boats are ideal for an adult and child like the Heron, while some such as the Tasar have weight restrictions which ensure they are sailed competitively by two adults or near adults.

One-Design or Development Class

Sailing dinghies can be one-design, with virtually no difference between boats and strict rules controlling construction, or development classes like the International Moth which has gone from a wide-hulled scow, to a thin-hulled skiff and now to a hydrofoil-based design. Many people prefer one-design as it mean the competition is more about sailing ability than about who can afford the newest innovation, although the weight of the boat, and sail age and quality, also come into it even in one-design. The people with most chance of winning a regatta often have new sails if not new boats.

An Olympic Sport

Sailing is an Olympic sport in both Men's and Women's divisions and for both keelboats (small yachts) and dinghies. One of the most recent additions, for the Sydney Games, was the 49er skiff, bringing cutting edge technology to the top end of the sport.

Other Olympic dinghy classes include the Laser, Finn 470 and Laser Radial, the Tornado catamaran and a particular design of sailboard.

The current Olympic keelboats are the Star (men) and the Yngling (women).

A variety of other dinghies and keelboats have been used in previous Olympics, including the Soling, Flying Dutchman, Firefly and Europe. Key reasons for choosing new designs are to keep competitors' costs down and to make the boats accessible to people of all builds and strengths.

Racing for All Ages, Sexes and Weights

Most races and regattas are organised based on a class of dinghy, and within the class there may be several divisions such as Masters (older sailors), Ladies and Juniors.

Handicap Events Mean Anyone Can Win

Races involving mixed fleets (different classes of boat, different ages, weights and abilities of sailors) can be organised on a handicap basis. The most commonly used handicapping system is the Portsmouth yardstick, which assigns a different rating to each class of boat in a mixed fleet and (at least in theory) gives every boat an equal chance of winning. Handicaps can also be personal (sometimes called a back-calculated yardstick), taking into account the results of the sailor over past races, so an inexperienced person who sails significantly better than previously over a season or regatta can win on handicap.

A Lifetime Sport

Because of the use of handicap events, sailors of any age can be competitive. In the Concord & Ryde Sailing Club in Sydney, New South Wales Australia the youngest crew is 5, the youngest skipper is 10 and the oldest crew is 73 and the oldest skipper is 72.

Class, Association, Club

Clubs generally have a number of different classes competing on any one day, often sailing the same course at the same time, or sometimes with each class starting a few minutes apart. Keen club sailors join and compete in events with their State and National Associations. Associations generally cater for only one class of boat, but generally have competitors in several divisions.

Competetive Areas

One of the most competitive areas is Southern California. The jr. programs are top notch and they have some of the top high school teams. The most popular boats are Naples Sabots, CFJ's, 420's, and 29ers.


  1. Class: Laser: http://www.laser.org/m/_general/default.asp
  2. Class: 505: http://www.int505.org
  3. Club: Concord & Ryde Sailing Club: http://www.concordrydesailing.org
  4. Association: NSW Heron Association: http://herons.dinghies.orgTemplate:Sailing Dinghies and Skiffs

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