Golden Solo Sail

After the 2014 season I felt it was time to try some changes to the Solo. We had been closely watching the Finn fleet since the 2012 games and the Golden sails that were being used certainly caught our eye.

Last winter I spoke with Dave Winder and decided to buy two Mk2 bare hulls and fit them out myself. I wanted set one up with standard kit (Complete Winder boat with HD Radial Laminate mainsail) and the other with modifications. This way I could get a real understanding by two boat tuning of what was working and what wasn’t. Continue reading “Golden Solo Sail”

OK vs Solo

Will asked me to write a bit on the differences between the OK and the Solo. I first sailed OK’s back in 2003 and was still sailing the Solo as well. Trying to get to grips with the OK highlighted a few areas that I could improve in the Solo.

The OK’s hard chine means it reacts much more to changes in heel angle and the raked rudder feeds back much more to the helm. Getting an OK downwind quickly requires a more subtle approach to body movement and sail trim. Using the rudder to change direction has a much more detrimental effect on speed in the OK. When I got back into the Solo after a couple of years in an OK, I’d gained a few kilos, but found I was quicker downwind, than I had been. I was using mainsheet trim and heel much more and letting the rudder follow the boat rather than trying to muscle the boat downwind.

The OK rules don’t allow the mainsheet to be trimmed from the boom downwind. The mainsheet has to be taken from the last block in the system. Along with jury boats at most big events, it’s largely removed the issue with 1-1 pumping, that many single handers suffer from. It’s also a lot more civilised! To me, it feels a lot more like a true test of skill to get an OK downwind quickly. Perhaps it’s something the Solo’s could try?

The OK mast foot and mast gate positions are easily adjustable on the water, so it’s fairly straight forward to tweak and test different set ups. Many people have a range of foot and gate positions to suit each condition. The basics are move the mast foot away from the board to go lower and faster in breeze and towards the board for more height / power in lighter conditions. I’m convinced this is an area that is worth exploiting in the Solo and did start to move the mast around in the boat for different conditions. I didn’t do enough Solo sailing to properly prove or disprove whether it worked, but did get to the point where I had enough range in the Solo rig to be able to sail upwind with the board fully down in all conditions.

Most OKs have toe strap mountings that are adjustable athwartships. I couldn’t believe how bloody painful it was when they were in the wrong place! A bit of fiddling to get my knees lined up with the side deck pads and hiking was almost pleasurable. Getting back into a Solo and not being able to shift the anchor points didn’t do much to cheer me up when my knees were screaming at me.

The OK’s don’t allow slot gaskets, so there’s a significant amount of turbulence in the case. Downwind it’s fastest to raise enough board so that the trailing edge just meets the back of the case. The reduction in turbulence more than makes up for the extra peril of only having enough board sticking out to stand on. It’s a good motivator to sort out being really precise with steering and trim downwind. In the Solo the gain isn’t as significant, but I’m certain there’s some.

Upwind the OK is very sensitive to mainsheet tension – a couple of clicks of the ratchet block can all that’s needed to go from slow to fast. Being able to accurately control and repeat leech tension is essential to having consistent speed. When I got back in the Solo, I calibrated traveller, kicker and mainsheet and started to build up settings for each condition. It definitely helped being able to get off the start line knowing I was on tested settings and knowing where to make a change if I needed more height or speed. I still haven’t found a way to avoid having to work hard to go fast though!

OK Sailing sail
OK Dinghy
solo dinghy class mainsail
Solo Dinghy

2013 Off And Running

2013 has started off nice and busy. Not only are we busy making lovely new sails but we’ve also been out sailing at the winter events and working on new designs.

Delivery dates for new sails are pushing further into 2013, so if you are looking at having new sails for the start of the season get your order in asap so to save on disappointment.

Development certainly hasn’t stopped since the summer. One of our latest projects has been working with Osprey Inland Champions Chris Gould & Nick Broomhall and National Champions Gareth Caldwell & John Gibbons to develop our Osprey sails.

For 2013 we have designed  sails for the 420 and using the sails will be 2012 Optimist National Champion Martin Wrigley steering and crewed by Sam Smith, watch this space pictures will follow.

The Bloody Mary saw the Merlins descend as the biggest fleet with 31 boats, HD Sails took first, second and fourth out of the Merlin fleet. Unfortunately this year the course certainly favoured the  trapeze boats and the Foiling Moths which were certainly impressive to watch. Jon Gorringe & Tobytastic  was the first Merlin and managed to get to 12th overall, second Merlin was Andy Davis & Pippa Taylor who managed 23rd overall.

Next big winter event will be the Stevie Nicholson memorial race at Northampton Sailing club, Both Jim and Andy will be there sailing.

More news on our development will follow, we have more news on Merlins, Solo, OK and Phantom.


Blithfield Barrel

This Sunday the Blithfield Barrel kicks off, with over 80 odd entries last year we hope this year is going to be even bigger.

For those that don’t know the Barrel takes place once a month, the first starting this Sunday 11th November at 12:00 o’clock with two handicap races, the others are 9th December, 13th January and the 17th February.

Both Jim and I will be attending, Jim will be in his 505 with Norman Bryd and I’ll be sailing my Merlin, we hope to see you there.

How to Find the Sailing Club

Blithfield is in the heart of rural Staffordshire, above the M6 and below the A50. We located between Burton’s Breweries, Lichfield’s Cathedral and Uttoxeter’s Race Course.

From the B5014, turn into Seedcroft Lane (there is a signpost to BSC here). Follow Seedcroft Lane for about 3/4 mile and you will come to a left turn (Waters Road) signposted to BSC. Take this turn, continue through the gates past South Staffs Water Buildings then turn right into BSC as soon as you reach the dam.

If you get lost try ringing the club: 01283 840464
Our full address is: Blithfield Sailing Club, Waters Lane, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, WS15 3DU.

Website Updates

As you may have noticed on certain classes we haven’t quite updated the pages yet. We are very busy producing sails and we hope to have the class pages updated very soon!

If you don’t see your class there or you would like information on a class please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0121 356 2175 or email us;

[email protected]

[email protected]

Many thanks

Andy & Jim


2012 Dinghy Show This Weekend

This weekend we’re off to  Alexandra Palace for the RYA Volvo Dinghy Show. Both Jim and Andy will be wondering around the show visiting the class stands, if you would like to book a meeting with either of them please call the loft to arrange a time.

This year we have sails on the GP14 stand (Being Shown on Paintcraft’s new Duffin), the Allen Stand (Being Shown on a Winder Solo), Paintcraft Stand (Being shown a Paintcraft Scorpion) and the Merlin stand (Being shown on Jon Turners New Merlin).

Look forward to seeing you down there.

Andy & Jim