© Copyright Simon Richards and Newburgh Sailing Club 2023
Organisation of dinghy racing
Dinghy racing comes under the auspices of the International Sailing Federation. Organisations such as the Royal Yachting Association (UK) and Canadian Yachting Association (Canada) organise and regulate the sport at a national level. 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. There are several courses used, such as the Olympic triangle.
Bermuda Fitted Dinghy racing
In Bermuda, the Bermuda rig, now almost universally-
Most racing dinghies can be classified as being either single handed (one person only) such as the Laser, RS Vareo or double handed, such as the 470, 5O5, Heron, Tasar, Flying Junior, International Fireball or the International Fourteen. A few classes of dinghy carry more than two crew whilst racing, typically heavier dayboat types, but also a couple of high performance Australian originated skiff type dinghies. 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. Weight equalisation is also used on certain high performance classes to ensure that comparative levels of performance are attained.
Sailing dinghies can be one-
The Oldest known One-
One designs may be strictly controlled, as in the ubiquitous Laser, with all boats being factory produced from identical moulds, with identical rigs and sails. Strict-
There are one-
Some development classes (National 12 and Merlin Rocket) have tightly controlled rules which keep the boats closely competitive while allowing the owner to customise the boat to their preferences and weight. These classes are now considered restricted classes, although previously they were referred to as one-
The most diverse classes are those development classes with more flexible rules (International Moth International C Class Catamaran), these classes represent the cutting edge of the sport, using the latest technology including hydrofoils and solid wings in place of sails.
Olympic Dinghy Sailing
Olympic sailing includes several dinghy classes for both men and women, the Laser (men), Finn (men), 470 (men and women), Laser Radial (women), and Tornado catamaran (mixed). One of the most recent additions, for the Sydney Games, was the 49er skiff, for men and women.
A Scholastic Sport
Many secondary schools and universities worldwide have adopted dinghy racing as either a club or varsity sport. In the United States secondary school sailing is governed by the Interscholastic Sailing Association. College sailing in Canada and the US is governed by the Intercollegiate Sailing Association. Both organizations have been in continuous existence since the early 20th century and, indeed, college racing began in 1928.
Most school programs own fleets of at least 6 dinghies, and the well funded programs often have more than 20 dinghies in addition to support boats and paid coaches. Often schools cooperate with local yacht clubs to share fleets. The schools compete in both the fall and spring within regional districts and then, if they qualify through district championships, at a national championship regatta. Additionally, schools also compete in Team racing regattas where they are able to compete one-
Handicap events -
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-
Class, Association or 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.
The UK has one of the most vibrant and diverse dinghy racing scenes in the world with over 100 different classes of dinghy and strongly supported clubs all around the coast.