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Choosing a new dinghy

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O_Long View Drop Down
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    Posted: 22 Mar 14 at 10:12pm
Hi all!

With the 2014 season about to start, I'm in need of some assistance from some more experienced sailors about what dinghy to buy. Our relatively small club doesn't have a large variety of boats, so it's difficult to know what to pick. 

Allow me to explain my situation. I'm 15, about 5'7, and weigh about 7 and a half stone, so I'm pretty small for my age. My friend (roughly same age and height) is my crew and he's about 10 stone. We both started sailing about midway through last year, and pooled our funds into a cheap wooden GP14. We sailed this for the remainder of the season and then renovated it in the winter to make a tidy profit. 

Our local club is on the River Witham in Boston, Lincolnshire, and we don't often get the chance to get out on open water rather than a river. We had learned to sail in GPs, so that's why we bought one, but we soon found that they were less than ideal on rivers, despite their large sail area. 

What we're looking for is quite specific, and I realise that we may need to compromise in some areas. We'd like a dinghy that handles well on rivers (not too complicated to sail, doesn't lose much speed when tacking), is relatively fast (we're looking to get to the front of the pack Wink) but also quite stable (I know this is a bit contradictory, but we race on a Wednesday evening, and I often don't have time to get fully changed after a capsize because I have to bike home - we don't want to be capsizing on a regular basis). It would also be great if I was able to take it out single-handedly without the jib in the event my crew doesn't show up.  Again, I know this a very specific set of criteria, but any guidance would help.

My current thought is a Miracle dinghy - they seem fairly fast but not tippy, and have the capability to be sailed with just a main. However, the Commodore expressed his concern that Miracles don't have the largest of sail areas, and that's one of the more important factors on a river that often doesn't have wind, especially when passing trees on the bank. 

So, what are your thoughts? Is a Miracle just what I need, or will it underperform on a river? Have you guys got any other suggestions for dinghies? All help is appreciated.

Many thanks,
Owen
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JimC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Mar 14 at 10:25pm
An older National 12 might be a good bet, but probably not singlehanded at 7.5 stone.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Blue One Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Mar 14 at 10:54pm
Does it have to have a spinnaker? If not, how about a firefly or even a graduate. Both are good on confined water. The firefly can also be sailed single handed competitively, don't know enough about the graduate to know how it sails single handed.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote O_Long Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Mar 14 at 11:16pm
Nope, doesn't need a spinnaker at all considering I'm on a river. One of the guys had a firefly last season, I'll have a chat to him about it.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote craiggo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Mar 14 at 11:56pm
Graduate is a good boat. Would be great for your weight and will fly in the light stuff on a river. Make sure you get a new rules main and you'll be flying. You can easily sail it single-handed if it's light. Visit Graduate Sailing Dinghy Fan Club on Facebook. Chris Parker normally has a boat or two ready to sell.

Edited by craiggo - 22 Mar 14 at 11:56pm
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Post Options Post Options   Quote O_Long Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Mar 14 at 6:57pm
Thanks for the feedback guys, much appreciated. Keep it coming!

What should I be looking for in a Grad? Any notable differences between the wooden and fibreglass boats besides more work on a wooden one? There's also a cheap Miracle nearby, how well do they sail on rivers?
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craiggo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote craiggo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Mar 14 at 9:12pm
Miracles are good little boats and I am sure they would sail ok on small confined rivers but they will suffer a bit given the rig is quite short.
If you look at Grads, then a wooden Alpha Grad sail no. 2900+ would be good. The early plastic grads are ok but tend to get heavy and soft. Later GRP boats (Sprinters) are not bad, and the latest Roosters are very nice but probably out of your price range.
Dont be put off by the maintenance on a wooden boat. A well made one should require 1 or 2 coats of varnish a year and it only takes 20mins to brush on a coat.
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iGRF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote iGRF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 14 at 8:42am
My first reaction is to suggest you ring child line and tell them you've been abused on the internet by 'old boat groomers' and then tell your parents unless they buy you a nice X0 river boat you're likely to become drug addicts or take to robbing post offices or pensioners of their savings until you can afford one.

Then again there are a couple of young(ish) chaps that absolutely kill it in a Miracle on our lake, including leading the entire fleet for the first triangle this week just gone, this in the face of my sailing genius which takes some doing these days. Then I believe it's one of those all carbon Miracles they make cunningly disguised as varnished wood, very clever. He posts in here occasionally goes by the name of NealG, is a sailmaker and will probably give you as good advice about Miracles and how fast you can make them go as most and of course they have the most ludicrously favourable handicap known to bandit world, so you can't actually lose in one ever .

Personally though I'd follow the childline plan and blackmail the parentals into an X0, sailing old boats makes you sterile and unattractive to the opposite sex, it's written.

Edited by iGRF - 24 Mar 14 at 8:46am
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Rupert View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Rupert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 14 at 9:02am
Far too small for an X0...

I grew up in Fireflies, so I'm biased, but as far as I'm concerned, for confined water the boat is perfect. Plenty of rocker for quick turns, round bottomed for great roll tacks, rig easy to read for all the wind shifts. If you don't want an old wood boat, there are loads of Rondar boat around now. Just watch out if buying an ex-uni boat that is hasn't been trashed. In fact, assume it has unless you can prove otherwise.

New designs are all very well, but most are designed for a different purpose than you are looking for.
Firefly 2324, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446 Mirror 70686
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Alexv Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 14 at 11:42am
Graduate and Miracles are both nice boats. I've seen a few Miracles doing pretty well on a river.
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