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Minz wins the virtual Concours d'Elegance!

by Editor 1 Mar 2021 08:41 PST 27 February 2021
Minz wins the virtual Concours d'Elegance at the RYA Dinghy Show 2021 © Brenda & Simon Hoult

The RYA Dinghy Show wouldn't be complete without the Concours d'Elegance, and the event going virtual wasn't going to stop the prestigious trophy being awarded in 2021.

This year Mark Jardine, Managing Editor of YachtsandYachting.com and Sail-World.com, was joined by Ben Saxton, the Rio 2016 Nacra 17 class helm, World & European Champion, and six-time Endeavour Trophy winner to judge the entries.

Exhibiting classes were invited to send in their entries, with video, photos, and words to describe why their boat should win. The boats were diverse, representing the traditional and ultra-modern, out-and-out racing machines and dinghy cruising.

It wasn't easy, but the judges narrowed down the entries first to a top five, then a top three, and eventually chose a winner. You can watch how the judges took in the details of all the boats below:

Minz owners Simon and Brenda Hoult have been Solo enthusiasts since Simon did his first Nationals at Plymouth in 1989, and subsequently taught Brenda to sail in a Solo at Bartley Green in the early 90s. They are currently restoring a second wooden Solo to load up the old double-stack trailer and do the Classic Tour together. They were naturally delighted that Minz won:

"Having raced and cherished the boat alongside a selection of newer Solos over the last 23 years, 4214 was really coming into her own, leading the CB Coverstore Classic Tour (curtailed of course after two events) in March 2020. We offered to Will Loy at that time that we put the boat on the RYA Dinghy Show stand in 2021 to show how a 20+ year old boat is still competitive.

"We have always found the Solo class inclusive, regardless of age or experience of either boat or helm. We have been the youngsters in old boats, moving on to our first new boats (4157 and 4214), aging with them as we have sailed other classes of boats, other builds of Solos, and introduced our children to sailing. We are the age now that we are considered to be the oldies on the Midland Circuit, but hearteningly many of those older generation are still in their Solos too!

"We have owned many different Solos as well as a variety of different classes of boat: rebuilt, upgraded, fitted new, bought due to nostalgia of individual boats, locations of events in any year, convenience around children, etc. However, Minz has always escaped our whims of class change, mainly to hang on to the national social network that the NSCA offers us, but also due to the lack of financial value of an old wooden Solo, however treasured. But therein lies the appeal of the Solo fleet - 4214 is not at all unusual in being a competitive wooden boat and represents an extremely cost-effective way to enjoy fleet sailing at the widest possible selection of clubs in the country. Arguably a wooden Solo can prove easier to own for a sailor with just a little DIY enthusiasm, with scuffs and scrapes not requiring specialist GRP repair."

Mark Jardine was impressed by the diversity of the entries, "It was as hard as ever to choose a winner, and we were particularly impressed with the Chippendale Flying Fifteen 'Squall', the beautiful cruising Wayfarer 'Svartur', and of course the winning Solo 'Minz'. We recognised just how hard it has been for some to submit their entries during lockdown and applaud the efforts that have been made."

Ben Saxton summed up the enjoyment he had judging the boats, "It is fantastic to see dinghy sailing so alive in the UK. We had an entry list full of beautiful, loved boats that were clearly designed to be used and enjoyed. Thank you to all the entrants."

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