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Centerboard Fleet

Dinghy Handicap Fleet

Dinghy (centerboard boat) sailing is the foundation of every world class sailor.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and small boat racing is the fastest and surest way to learn how a sailboat reacts to steering and sail trim to go fast.  Get started with the informal racing at AYC.  It’s also a great way of socializing and maintaining physical fitness, strength and flexibility.

Sailboats are just boats — with sails. Simple, right?   But, sailboats can be anything from dinghies to super yachts. So, deciding the kind of sailboat you want to sail is important.  Dinghy sailing is a great way to start. While racing against different boats is fun and instructive, eventually sailors find the boat that fits them and their ambitions the best.  There are probably over 150 One Design dinghy classes in all price and size ranges.  A previously owned boat in good condition with a good record in a big class is often the best choice/value for the new racing sailor.  Look at the class numbers world wide and what is being sailed locally before making a choice.  Commodore Vanderbilt once stated that he’d sail a bathtub, if that’s what was being raced.  At AYC different small boats compete using the Portsmouth Handicap system or PHRF Handicaps –

The fundamentals of racing are most easily learned in small boats. Many small boats are designed specifically for younger sailors, and most provide a lifetime of enjoyment for adults as well. Because of their size and simplicity, many small sailboats can be sailed singlehanded or with a crew member or two.

These small boat options provide great racing opportunities

  • One Design [FJ, Lightnings, Thistles, Flying Scots, Snipes, C420, OK dinghy, Finn, Laser, RS Aero,  Sunfish, Optimist Dinghy, Sabot … ].  Many of these classes will have international regattas with hundreds of boats in attendance.

Dinghy sailing is the activity of sailing small boats by using five essential controls:

  • the sails
  • the foils(i.e. the daggerboard or centreboard and rudder and sometimes lifting foils as found on the Moth)
  • the trim (forward/rear angle of the boat in the water)
  • side-to-side balance of the dinghy by hikingor movement of the crew, particularly in windy weather (“move fast or swim”)
  • the choice of route (in terms of existing and anticipated wind shifts, possible obstacles, other water traffic, currents, tides etc.)

When racing, the above skills need to be refined and additional skills and techniques learned, such as the application of the “racing rules of sailing“, boat handling skills when starting and when rounding marks, and knowledge of tactics and strategy. Racing tactics include positioning your boat at different angles. To improve speed when racing, sailors should position themselves  in order to get “clean air”.

Shared challenges and the variability of the weather and sea can make dinghy sailing and racing a fascinating and rewarding recreational sport: physically, mentally, and in terms of personal relationships with other crew members, competitors, and organizers. The RYA, regulating authority for sail training in the UK and Europe, states that, “With a reliance on nature and the elements, sailing … is about adventure, exploration, teamwork and fun.”[1]

Renting a dinghy or taking lessons is inexpensive. It also gives you a great understanding of the fickle nature of the wind and how to handle a boat with lower costs and personal risk.  For two persons, the FJ dinghy is nearly ideal and available through the AYC.

2019 Fleet Captain

James Frederick Bland, Finn USA 88 / ISAF 4470, Audacious

Contact Information:, 512 206 0009

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