HD Sails Covid19 update

Here at HD Sails we hope everyone is doing their best to stay safe during this pandemic. We are trying to continue with work as best as possible and to still meet deadlines, we are asking if you wish to come by the loft to do it by appointment only.

 If you are thinking of new sails for when we get back to sailing please don’t hesitate to get in touch and place an order.  Once the lid has been let off we expect to get very busy.

Please stay safe and we look forward to hearing from you all soon.










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”

New Lark Additions.

This year HD Sails have been working on a few improvements for their Lark Sails.

We have now introduced a flattener, for when sailors begin to rake, sailors have a much better range to control leech tension. It also gives more room in the cockpit and reduces sail area slightly.

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For the Jib we have been working on a fat head, you can still choose the standard jib if you like but the fat head gives extra area and generates more power and a better twist profile.

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Mike Senior has been testing these changes, Mike finished 3rd at this years Nationals in Penzance showing great speed across the varied conditions.


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

Carter Optimists

Typhoon Sailboats are the proud importers of the recently titled World Championship Winning Carter Optimist. Typhoon Sailboats and Carter have approached HD Sails to provide them with a Championship winning sail.

Here at HD we are trying to think of easier ways for you to take purchase of your championship winning sail, together with Carter a hull, makes for a top quality package. Call Typhoon Sailboats for more information 01926 485017 or visit www.typhoonsailboats.com

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2014 updates Coming Soon

Don’t worry we haven’t disappeared. 2014 has been very busy for us.

Coming soon we have news on new classes, a partnership with the current Optimist World Champion boat builders, and some fantastic results from the 2014 season.
Merlin Tenby

HD Sails 1,2,3 At The Merlin Nationals


Congratulations to Nick Craig and Alan Roberts on winning the 2013 Merlin Rocket Nationals at Tenby.

Tenby certainly delivered, superb sailing conditions and great socials were had by all.

It went down to the last race and any four teams could win, It was in the pocket of Jon Gorringe & Toby Lewis but gear failure up the last beat prevented them taking the win, Nick and Alan moved into the lead and took the title.


It was a close fought week at the top but it was the boats using HD Sails showing great consistency over the wind range powering them to take the top three spots.

Below from left to right, Nick Craig & Alan Roberts Merlin Champions, Jon Gorringe & Toby Lewis 2nd place and Roger Gilbert & James Stewart in 3rd place.


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HD Sails Update

DSC_0499Finally the weather has turned up! Seems like it won’t belong before it’s time to get ready for the various Championships, is it me or does each week seem to be going faster and faster?
Well done to Shane Mac Carthy and Andy Thompson on winning the GP14 Inlands, they were using the new laminate GP mainsail with added foot window. Mike Senior and Liz Seniorwere also going well with four 1st places but unfortunately for them they fell foul to the black flag in the final two races leaving them finishing in sixth place. Mike and Liz were using the Dacron Mainsail with added foot window. This is the second year in row that HD Sails have won the GP14 Inland Championships.Adding to the winning streak Chloe Felton won the Optimist open meeting at Banbury SC with two firsts and a second, also using HD’s Josh Haynes finished third and Matthew Beck 4th.5 of the last 6 Merlin Open meetings have been won by HD Sails, congratulations to Jon Gorringeand Toby Lewis for winning Salcombe and Wembley Open, Matthew Biggs and John Hackettfor Winning Banbury and Rutland Open, Duncan and Harriet Salmon for winning the Cookham Shield, Nick Craig and Alan Roberts for winning the Hayling Sea Open.

Merlin & GP14 Round Up

So far in the Merlin Silver Tiller HD Sails have had a great start. The last five open meetings including the Thames and Midland series, HD Sails have taken the win.

HD Sails had 1st,2nd and 3rd at Wembley which saw Jon Gorringe & Toby Lewis win from Andy Davis & Tom Pygall and Matt Biggs & John Hackett.

After Wembley it was the journey to the Merlin Mecca Salcombe.  Matt Biggs & John Hackett showed great pace on the saturday to take the overnight lead, Sunday unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be for Matt & John, even though leading in the first race they became becalmed and then passed by 6 boats, quite easily done at Salcombe. Going into the last John Gorringe & Toby Lewis held there nerve and powered to victory winning the last race which gave them the open meeting, Matt & John ended up 3rd overall.

Banbury saw a very fresh breeze with gusts up to 36 knots, this was going to be a battle of who could stay upright. Matt Biggs & John Hackett stormed to victory  with two firsts but before that John decided to press the eject button in the first race and miss the toe straps which gave Matt his first swimming lesson of the year. 3rd place went to Chris Martin & Tom White also using HD Sails, Chris & Tom were one of only a few that didn’t capsize, well done lads.

Last weekend two Merlin events took place, the Cookham Shield and Trent Valley. Duncan & Harriet Salmon got in the groove early and won the first two races with their new HD Sails at Cookham, HD Sails also took 3rd with Andy Jones & Jilly Blake and 4th with Alan Braodbent & Russell Hall.

Matt Biggs & John Hackett won all three races at Trent Valley, sadly for Matt  he got T-boned in the first race and suffered  major damage to the port side, thankfully with it being a Winder boat Matt was able to carry on for the rest of the day. Hopefully he will have it fixed for Hayling this weekend.


GP14 Midland Areas were held at Staunton Harold, Mike & Liz Senior showed consistency taking the win over the 6 race series. A special mention must go to Eleanor Davis & James Croxford who won the Silver fleet using HD Sails, not only did they win the Silver fleet but also finished 9th overall, well done!

Next for the GP14 is the Inland Championships, this year they are held by Burton sailing club over the May bank holiday. Will HD Sails be able to retain their Inland title?