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First boat for tall new sailor with dodgy bacK

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: General
Forum Name: Choosing a boat
Forum Discription: Ask any questions about the sport!
Printed Date: 09 Dec 22 at 1:38pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.665y -

Topic: First boat for tall new sailor with dodgy bacK
Posted By: Clive99
Subject: First boat for tall new sailor with dodgy bacK
Date Posted: 23 Aug 20 at 6:51pm
Hi all, sorry for yet another new boat post...I am completely new to sailing and have just enjoyed doing the level 1 course. Whilst waiting to do the level 2 course next month I am pondering which dinghy to purchase. I am 6í3Ē and about 70 odd kg, in my late 40ís with a dodgy lower back and knees which grumble after too much kneeling. On this basis I probably shouldnít be considering a dinghy at all but life is too short and I canít afford a Bavaria yacht...
I am looking for something which is able to move along nicely but is also comfortable. I think comfort will equate to a high boom and a deep cockpit where my feet are lower than my bum. Also not too heavy for pulling up the slipway. (Pulling a Pico was fine at around 60kg.)
At present Iíve only sailed the Pico which has quite a high boom but not much height between feet and bum when perched on the side decks and felt very cramped.

I was told at the level 1 course that a number of taller sailors at the club sail the Supernova. Is the Supernova likely to be more comfortable, ie have a deeper cockpit and similar or higher boom? (Iím sure its a much better performer but need to make sure itís comfortable). I originally wondered about a Solo but it was mentioned that the boom is very low and the cockpit isnít particularly deep. Images of the Solution suggest it has a deep cockpit and reasonable boom height but there doesnít seem to be any used ones for sail. A shame as itís a light boat too.

Can anyone recommend any other boats that maybe suitable for my situation? As a total beginner Iíll need something straightforward to sail and which doesnít break the bank for a first purchase. The club sails on a large reservoir and I think races Soloís and Aeroís and has a handful of Supernovas amongst other dinghies. Difficult to get close to other folks boats at this time with the Covid situation so Iíd be grateful for any guidance anyone can offer.
Many thanks,

Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 23 Aug 20 at 8:47pm
Boom is low on a Solo, but the cockpit is deep. Supernova also a good bet. Try both and anything else you can get your hands on.

Firefly 2324, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446 Mirror 70686

Posted By: tink
Date Posted: 24 Aug 20 at 5:56am
Based on the knees and the fact they sail them at your club Solo. It has a proper thwart to sit on downwind and in the light stuff. Whatever boat anyone tells you watch some YouTube videos of people sailing them and look out for kneeling, also at you club if the people from one class are wearing knee pads. 


Posted By: ian.r.mcdonald
Date Posted: 24 Aug 20 at 6:03am
Recent Solo mast and sail settings mean the racers run a lower boom.

There is nothing to stop you adjusting some simple rig settings ( as were used for decades by Solo sailors) to create extra boom height. And go faster downwind.

I am 6 3 with dodgy knees and the Solo is fine

Posted By: Clive99
Date Posted: 24 Aug 20 at 1:29pm
Thanks for the replies guys.
Looking again at the Solo I have to say it does look comfortable. Itís a big boat though, heavier to pull up the slipway and I would imagine a handful to right after a capsize? Hopefully I wonít capsize quite as often as during the windy conditions I had on the level 1 course but it has brought this aspect of a boat selection to the front of my mind.
The other option I suppose is to go for a training type dinghy such as the Hartley H12 perhaps? Lighter and hopefully comfortable, but with a smaller sail presumably making this is a slower less fun sail?
As you have said Iíll need to try and find a way to test some of these when Iíve got the level 2 out of way...
Thanks again

Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 24 Aug 20 at 2:03pm
The other option would be something like a Mirror dinghy. Slower than a Solo, but more stable. Easy to sail singlehanded. I guess the Hartley 12 is aiming for that market, but is much heavier.

But I have a feeling that you just need more time in boats to worry less about the capsizes. The Solo is pretty forgiving. More so than the Supernova.

Firefly 2324, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446 Mirror 70686

Posted By: ian.r.mcdonald
Date Posted: 24 Aug 20 at 6:48pm
Deciding to stay ashore when its windy is not a problem till you get used to the boat. Get your Class boat

With a training boat once you get things sorted- you really have to buy again.

Careful is good- but you will get going quickly- and with whichever class you choose a member of your club with the same boat is likely to help

Posted By: Riv
Date Posted: 24 Aug 20 at 7:15pm
Supernova sailor at my club spends most of the time kneeling.
Supernova is hull weight 50kg add 10-15 kg for all the bits so maybe 65-70 kg. How important is keeping the weight down to Pico proportions?

Mistral Div II prototype board, Original Windsurfer, Hornet built'74.

Posted By: Neptune
Date Posted: 24 Aug 20 at 8:05pm
Donít discount something like a Vareo, high boom, deep cockpit. Solo is a great little boat, but isnít actually that roomy.

Musto Skiff and Solo sailor

Posted By: iGRF
Date Posted: 24 Aug 20 at 9:41pm
How 'Competitive' are you? Be honest, because you have a lot to learn.
If the answer genuinely is, not at all, then feel free to choose any of the slower older boats, but if you are likely to feel in any way unsettled by being left behind to bring up the back of the fleet, then perhaps choose something quick and light like the Aero from the off. It won't help you win or place particularly high in the post race calculations, but it will keep you in the company of better sailors longer in an effort to emulate their sailing styles and race decision making tactics.

Just a thought.

-------------" rel="nofollow - Snow Equipment Deals" rel="nofollow - New Core Kite website

Posted By: epicfail
Date Posted: 25 Aug 20 at 5:36am
Originally posted by iGRF

How 'Competitive' are you? Be honest, because you have a lot to learn.
If the answer genuinely is, not at all, then feel free to choose any of the slower older boats, but if you are likely to feel in any way unsettled by being left behind to bring up the back of the fleet, then perhaps choose something quick and light like the Aero from the off. It won't help you win or place particularly high in the post race calculations, but it will keep you in the company of better sailors longer in an effort to emulate their sailing styles and race decision making tactics.

Just a thought.

Yes, this is a thing. I brought my Europe from a club as it had been abandoned in a boat park. I started racing it in November having not sailed for 30 years. Two ancient sails, a poorly repaired hole in the hull and a lump of ply for a daggerboard; I was slow - I didn't like it. These things are now sorted. The boat is quicker, racing is now great fun, more competitive. I'm learning a lot more (and I need to!) than I was when I was tootling around at the back.

Posted By: Clive99
Date Posted: 25 Aug 20 at 7:36am
Lots to think on here thanks all.

In terms of competitiveness I hadnít really thought about racing as Iíll be a complete novice. I was thinking of recreational sailing but going at a reasonable pace. I did wonder with this approach whether in time sailing round the same lake could get a bit boring and that at that point I could try racing.

I think Iím after the best compromise between the following:
1. Weight of boat to be pulled up the slipway
2. Comfort (deep cockpit and high boom)
3. Some level of performance and excitement from the boat.

I imagine a Solo probably does comfort and performance well but is a bit heavy. (Iíll just need try one when I can to determine the sensible max weight boat I should go for).

Yes I think Iíll avoid going to the Mirror end of the spectrum as whilst these are light and probably comfortable I would guess from the sail size that it is going to be slow.

The Europe looks quite interesting actually in terms of weight/comfort/performance or alternatively maybe a Streaker is something I should consider.

Aero looks very fast and is lovely and light but maybe lacking in comfort...?

I think Solo if the weight is ok failing that a Streaker or Europe perhaps (but there donít seem to be many used ones for sale unfortunately...

Posted By: ColPrice2002
Date Posted: 25 Aug 20 at 8:06am
If you have back problems, avoid the Europe.
They're lovely dinghies, but I found I had to kiss the floor to tack... The boom is very low!
Locally, our Solo fleet is quite strong - probably a combination of aging sailors and a dinghy with a bit more room for the knees.

If you're starting out, then something like the Mirror will give you a lot of experience without having to go into the complexities of sail controls at the same time.
For example, my Solo has kicker, outhaul, Cunningham control line brought to the side deck and they were all used on Sunday.
Start with a simpler rig, you can always sell and buy another dinghy as you get more experienced.
In the old days (pre covid) you could often have a sail in another club member's dinghy for a pint at the bar! Don't be afraid to ask if you could try a dinghy.

Last thought, you may need to try the "superman" technique for tacking if the boom is low. Rather than step into the centre of the dinghy facing forward, start the tack, as the boom starts to come over cross the boat facing across the dinghy (you'll duck automatically).

Posted By: davidyacht
Date Posted: 25 Aug 20 at 9:06am
Bit left field, but how about a Laser Radial or Standard for a while ... this would allow the OP to get to grips with a singlehander, which whilst quite frisky is easy to recover from a capsize, precious little devaluation of an older one and simple rig, then with improved skills move onto the Aero or Solo.

I enjoy my Solo, but there are very few capsize situations that do not involve a swim around the boat to the centreboard, then a massive reach to get to the centreboard, to get it up.

That being said, I think that the low boom is over exagerated, an alloy trolley makes a Solo easy on the shore and righting lines help getting it up.  If his local club sail Solos one would expect good support from club.

Happily living in the past

Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 25 Aug 20 at 4:25pm
Solo is not that heavy at 70kg, only 10 kg more than the pico. There are plenty of old guys sailing them who seem to manage well enough. It would be my suggestion too if there is a fleet at your club.

I didn't like the Supernova (or the Laser) but many do. A bit further left field is the Blaze, my ex supernova mate bought one 'cos he has a dodgy knee and loves it. Better suited to open water but said mate races on a pond and does ok. It does involve some kneeling but good knee pads take care of that for most and it's much kinder to them when hiking.

WRT racing, beginner or not join in, even though you'll find yourself following the fleet round you will learn much more quickly when you have to sail around a course and tack/gybe at the marks rather than when you feel like it. And it's great fun, hang back a little at the start, keep out of the way at the marks and know the basic rules (i.e. don't give way when you are not keep clear boat unless you shout loud and clear that you are going to, it just confuses people). You'll soon find other sailors giving you encouragement and tips.

Spice 346 "Flat Broke"
Blaze 671 "supersonic soap dish"

Posted By: snowleopard
Date Posted: 02 May 21 at 9:47am
I thought I'd chip in as I've gone through the same thought processes.  I used to have Lasers and gave up on that because I'm a bit too inflexible to get under the low boom (I'm the wrong size of 70).  I sailed a Finn for a while but gave up on that because I still had to kneel when tacking and it was way too heavy to pull up the slip on my own.  In the end, after great amounts of research, I got a 420.  I'll be able to take the grandkids out once the lockdown is over but for now I can sail it solo.  I can tack and gybe without kneeling and, when the wind is heavier I sail without jib and balance the helm by bringing the centreboard back a bit.  It has a nice deep cockpit and rolled side deck so nice and comfortable.

One hull good, two hulls better.

Posted By: davidyacht
Date Posted: 02 Jun 21 at 3:41pm
Think the problem with boats that are lighter than the Solo is that they get to be quite tippy.  The Solo is fine to lug around the Boatpark ... we have two significant steep ramps and with an ally trolley it is fine.

I think the Solo is a good club boat and has good manners.  

BUT you really need some technique to make tacking comfortable, this might include letting off the kicker and perfecting your timing, to avoid standing up before the boom crosses the boat.

As previous poster says, you donít need the excessive rake that some of the championship sailors are using.

Which ever boat you choose, some fitness training to stabilise your core and stretching to improve flexibility will make dinghy sailing a much more enjoyable experience 

Happily living in the past

Posted By: davidyacht
Date Posted: 02 Jun 21 at 3:42pm
Oops I said much the same last year!

Happily living in the past

Posted By: 423zero
Date Posted: 02 Jun 21 at 6:46pm
Doesn't make it any less valuable, once a thread has gone a month its forgotten, plus newbies need the help.


Posted By: Clive99
Date Posted: 15 Aug 21 at 3:44pm
By way of an update after trying Picos, Fevas and a short go in a Solo I settled for a Laser. I always thought the Laser looked incredibly uncomfortable but after moaning about kneeling to someone with a Laser they mentioned they rarely had to kneel so I gave it a go. I find it simple, compact and fast enough to be exhilarating and the wide side decks do mean I can perch half on in light winds to avoid kneeling. Enough cockpit depth and the boat is light. Currently renting one of the club boats but in the process of getting an old hull brought back to life with new rigging which should hopefully serve me well as a first boat.
As many advised on here try as many boats as you can! Thanks for all the advice.

Posted By: tink
Date Posted: 15 Aug 21 at 4:50pm
Thanks for the update, we rarely get them. It has its distractors but you canít go wrong with a Laser. I donít think I ever kneel in mine, 5 days sailing in the last 7 all sorts of conditions and no grazes or bruises on my knees. 

Have fun 


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