What is a sailing dinghy and what will it do?
A sailing dinghy is a small open boat, as opposed to a keelboat or a yacht. Most modern dinghies are between 3.5 and 5 metres (11 to 16 ft) in length, and are usually sailed by one to three people. The usual arrangement is of one mast, normally aluminium tubing, supporting two sails. Nowadays, most boats are built of glass fibre reinforced plastic although wooden ones are still quite common in the longer established classes and other materials are occasionally used.
Whatever they are made of, dinghies are built with sufficient buoyancy so that even if severe damage occurs, they should still float.
A dinghy should be able to sail in almost any direction, in a wide range of wind strengths. Due to the design it is easier for the boat to move forwards than sideways, a dinghy can surprisingly sail into the wind, albeit in a series of zig zags.
Because of their small size and light weight, dinghies are relatively cheap, to both to buy and maintain, and also to store and insure. While larger boats might require the use of a crane to put in the water. dinghies can usually be launched and recovered manually by the crew.
Types of boat at Perth Sailing Club
Boats designed for two people usually have two sails, one of which is tended by the crew while the helmsman, or woman looks after the other. Both must work as a team if the boat is to sail efficiently. Examples of these which we have at Perth we have Mirror, Enterprise, Firefly and Albacore dinghies.
Single-handed boats, which are designed for one person sailing alone, normally have only one sail. At Perth we have Lasers, Solos and Feva dinghies.
The Feva is a new boat for the club and can be sailed with a jib and/or gennake
Most of the classes of boats sailed at Perth have their origins in the dinghy boom of the 1950s and 60s and there are many other such classes. Dinghy sailing is undergoing another period of growth, and many new classes have been introduced over the last few years leading to a bewildering choice for the would be buyer. Ask advice before buying a boat, people will be pleased to help.
Books and Videos
Perth Library lists over 100 sailing books from the narrative to the technical if you want to find out more. Others can be found in the sports section of book shops, yacht chandlers etc.
Here are some good general books and videos aimed at learners
This is Sailing - 4th edition edited by J Saltonstall, original author R Creigh Osborne
Dinghy Sailing - B Bond & S Sleight
Sailing a Beginner's Manual - J Driscoll
Start Sailing - A Smith & T Davidson
Racing, a Beginner's Manual - J Caig & T Davidson
RYA book on Race Training - J Saltonstall
Start Sailing - the official video covering the RYA scheme up to level 2 - introduced by
Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson
Better Sailing - is the follow up that introduces spinnakers and racing
At one with the wind - a classic beginners video with follow on Capture the wind
Coaching CD-ROMs are also starting to appear as are sailing based video games