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Peculiar innovations seen at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2022

by Magnus Smith 1 Mar 04:00 PST 26-27 February 2022
Possibly a carbon fibre toilet cover seen on a new Moth? © Magnus Smith

Determined not to be stuck in his office during another boat show,'s website developer, Magnus Smith, boldly travelled the 3 miles from his home to the Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre during the last weekend in February.

Like any fanatical Merlin Rocket bimbler, he wanted to drool over the latest gadgets, and boats filled with string. Here's what really caught his eye...

Farnborough International has ample space to park your car, van or aeroplane - photo © Magnus Smith

Before I even entered the Show, I was delighted to see that the new venue was very convenient in terms of the parking available; there was ample space for cars, vans or aeroplanes.

The elestic-mounted toothbrush keeps the spinnaker halyard in check when the sail is stowed - photo © Magnus Smith

Little could I guess when examining a 420 on their class association stand that I would be fascinated by toothbrushes. Sorely disappointed they were not colour coordinated in red and green, I demanded an explanation from the class representative. It appears a plastic toothbrush is the precise length and weight required to hold down a spinnaker halyard, to keep the sail in its bag. What's more, when released by elastic during the hoist, the bristles stop the device damaging the deck when they ping back down. I must visit the Pound Shop myself now!

A boarding step integrated with the rudder on this Paradox design of cruising dinghy - photo © Magnus Smith

The cruising section of the Show pandered to my Swallows and Amazons mania; the practicalities of exploring and sleeping out in a boat were demonstrated here. Yet I discovered foils that would astonish any racing sailor with their radical design. The boat 'Little Jim' (a Paradox design) was the only craft at the show to sport chine runners and an asymmetric winged rudder! In an attempt to conceal the advantage he might have over the competition, the owner pretended that the latter underwater protuberance was merely a convenient way to climb aboard after a refreshing swim.

The smallest Harken blocks in the world? - photo © Magnus Smith

Whilst I do love a prettily-varnished vintage dinghy, my heart has never yearned for the huge Tufnol blocks that we put up with in the 70s. Things are smaller now; lower diameter control lines and sheets are the norm. Therefore I welcomed the sight of the talented Cathy Ash-Vie who has taken "micro block" to a new level.

Kyle Stoneham's new Moth 'All the rage' on the Ovington stand at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2022 - photo © Magnus Smith

The skill involved in creating tiny pulleys is nothing to the magic required to make toestraps levitate! I suppose we should expect nothing less from Moth sailors who can make their boats fly above the water with a complete disregard for hiking comfort. I am guessing carbon fibre is now mandatory in the class rules.

A huge range of technical sailing clothing was available at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2022 - photo © Magnus Smith

I really love to chase the lasers (and no, I'm not talking about ILCAs here). At the Show I noticed a figure every bit as inspirational on the dance floor as I am myself. It appears this funky discotheque move is inspired by the position skiff sailors find themselves in mid-tack.

Now, it is important that standards be maintained in our industry, so I will end my photo essay with a few errors I spotted.

Fireball class celebrate their Diamond Jubilee year at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2022 - photo © Magnus Smith

With my years of experience, I am able to spot a glaring omission as well as any other armchair sailor. But this Fireball (a diamond jubilee model, no less) was sitting proudly on the stand without a soul realising they had forgotten to install the spinnaker chute, despite having oodles of spare room! You'd think that after 60 years of making them, someone would have noticed.

One of the few rigs with a jib but no shrouds - photo © Magnus Smith

I fear the designers of the Topaz Sailing System were too eager to create multiple rig options, and in their hurry forgot that I've never seen a boat with a jib which has no shrouds! Imagine standing on a jetty next to this boat; What am I supposed to hold on to then? The shroud - as we all know - was originally invented to give a sailor of any height the perfect place to pull his vessel near enough to step aboard.

National 18 class at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2022 - photo © Magnus Smith

I am guessing that a boat designer had an accident with an office photocopier here. The plans for a clinker-less Merlin must have been scaled up accidentally? This boat was so capacious I asked a passer by to hop in, just to give my photo a sense of scale. He put down a stack of leaflets about the 'National 18' (which must have been somewhere nearby) and obliged me. There was room for two entire families to have a tea party in there!

In conclusion, my visit to the RYA Dinghy & Watersports show was truly eye-opening, and I am very glad I made the effort to fly in for the day.

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