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The Solo – Designer: Jack Holt

The National Solo dinghy is a classic, one-design, single handed dinghy. Designed by Jack Holt in 1956, the Solo dinghy still remains popular today. Originally designed in wood, competitive boats are now widely available in Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) or composite construction (FRP hull and wood deck) as well as wood and Epoxy.

60th Anniversary

2016 was the 60th anniversary of the design, and the Class Association organised a series of events to celebrate.

The Solo was pretty innovative when designed, Jack Holt decided to go down the fully battened mainsail route which at the time was a technology in its infancy, being fully battened the sail develops usable power Because the battens tend to hold the sail in shape, it flogs less, which makes for quieter and more relaxing sailing. The reduction in flogging also puts less strain on the rig, and helps the cloth last longer.

PY Number

The Solo has a PY of 1143 which masks just how exciting this little boat can get, in winds above force 3 she becomes a challenging but highly enjoyable sail once you get to grips with the characteristics of the boat, she goes to windward easily outpointing many other types and lifts onto the plane with ease.

Sail Performance
Fully-battened sails are often considered to be more efficient because of their use, among others, on racing dinghies, America's Cup yachts and high-speed multi hulls it does tend to generate more lift - which, in turn, can lead to more speed and less heel upwind. In light airs, too, the shape built in by the battens gives these sails an edge when others are hanging limp. What's more, they're often closer winded by virtue of being cut slightly flatter. the 'locked-in' shape also has a down-side: because of their ability to keep driving at very fine angles of attack, they're more difficult to de-power - so you'll find it harder to slow down or stop


While quite lively the boat is not as physically demanding as a Laser or many of the other single crew designs. The design weight for the hull is 70kg so the boat is pretty easy to handle out of the water and can be rigged from car trailer to water in around 15 - 30 minutes.

Buying a Solo

Good Solo dinghies can be obtained secondhand for as little as £500. At this sort of price the age is less important than the condition. As with all wooden boats a thorough check should be made for rot. In addition to buying secondhand, Solos are available as a kit, part-built or complete. Plans are available from the RYA or the Solo association for a completely DIY boat.


The Solo is currently enjoying an upturn in demand, over 5149 have been produced to date (July 2010) with the majority now being manufactured in Epoxy sandwich, however there are still a few being built in wood or as composite boats. As good as Epoxy might be the Solo looks particularly good in wood, due in part to the unusual sculpted style decks and the belief that a wooden Solo is stronger than its Epoxy twin.

National Status

The Solo is one of three designs from the many designs that have been penned by Jack Holt that have been granted International status.

Newburgh Sailing Club and the Solo

Newburgh Sailing Club has one of the biggest Solo fleets in Scotland, we have boats ranging in age from one of the earliest models built (sub 100) through to boats in the 5000 upwards. There are Composite, wood and full GRP in the club. The Solo fleet at the club is steadily expanding.