Please select your home edition
X-Yachts Leaderboard 1

What was intriguing at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2023?

by Magnus Smith 6 Mar 2023 08:30 PST 25-26 February 2023
One Merlin Rocket owner clearly has an influential young daughter - seen at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show © Magnus Smith /

Determined not to let moving house (the day before) stop him from working,'s website developer, Magnus Smith, attended his favourite boat show during the last weekend in February.

The first thing to get his heart fluttering was the remote-operated self-bailers on his favourite class, the Merlin Rocket. But wait.... two other classes sported such systems too! Why has this idea made a return after not being seen since 1970?

Jon Turner's latest Merlin seems to be going for extra carbon tube well as the usual string fetish. Across my wrist in the photo below you can see the bar which makes pulling the traveller easier, then my fingers are holding two more, and a fourth can be seen looking after the jib leads at top of picture.

Black carbon tubing is all very well, but I'd prefer a vibrant hue if possible. The Scorpion class delivered.

Sailboat Trailers seem to agree, and are breaking the long-held tradition that trolley wheels must be red... or faded to pink. They now sell them in pink to start with. Hot pink!

Unusual colours catch my eye, as you can probably tell, so I stopped to talk to one National 12 sailor who clearly felt that carbon and wood both deserved a place on his lovely pale sea green boat.

I was also glad to see that the Cadet class, despite moving from wood to plastic in the years since I last sailed with them (sob!) now offer a decent range of colours.

An International Canoe of an unusual colour (white, in this class?!) required a second glance to see exactly where tiller extension ended and jib-boom began.

A second, and perhaps third, glance was also needed for the Thames A Rater rudder, which quite frankly was shocking. I feel the urge to write to Mary Whitehouse. After I've checked it again.

Passing by the excellent range of dinghies for the disabled it was noted that the Hansa class came in more sizes and colours than previously spotted. Although the designer may have forgotten the need for the top of the jib to connect to the mast SOMEWHERE! No?

Nearby, the catamaran section was a shrine for any sailor who thinks two is better than one; although Nacra apparently disagree when it comes to booms. Not only was there only one on the F18 and F16, the class seems to be returning to the bendy boom experimental period of the 1960s.

Experimental ideas also ran wild with the Amateur Yacht Research Society who were displaying a radical new design of one-man sit-down yacht. It wasn't just the delta sail (lateen?) which raised an eyebrow with its mast stepped on the transom, but the hull was deliberately designed to get the skipper's bum wet. Perhaps it solves the issue of installing 'heads' on such a small craft?

I couldn't tell if the above vessel would have taken longer to build than the incredible model GP14, which was alarmingly accurate in every tiny detail. The following photo shows a giant hand adjusting the outhaul.

For those wanting quicker projects than hand-crafting from scratch, I found the answer with the Tideway class. Plastic doorstops are great for stopping centreplate vibrations/damage when towing.

Almost as simple was a Barton product I hadn't seen before, for making halyard falls much neater and less prone to tangling.

Hammond were exhibiting their range of drysuits again, though it seems a little futile when my purchase from them in 1992 is still going strong. Who needs a replacement when the suits last so well?

Beach Perfect had a demo of a new beach mat in from the USA, which seemed nothing short of black magic. No more fighting a losing battle to keep sand off your towel - it just disappears. How long before they can make shoes out of this stuff too?

The Comet class used a touch of humour to draw the eye towards a great campaign to raise awareness of prostate cancer. The boat name was enough to make me scan a QR code and see the owner's Facebook page, and from there to to check my own risk level.

Another cancer charity had representation from an RS Aero sailor who declares his intention to become the first ever singlehanded dinghy sailor to go around the 250 islands of England and Wales; all in aid of Cancer Research UK. See his website at now, because before summer is over he will have made it!

The Bainbridge stand had a lovely land-yacht which made me wish there was more of this sort of thing at a WATERsports show. Yes, seriously!

But I must get back to being silly again. Let us continue...

I didn't enjoy eating the free snacks put out by The Green Blue so I went to a Greek stall (that must have been run by some sort of filo pastry marketing board) and had the most mind-blowing experience of the show: a vegetarian quiche that tasted NICE! Not only that, it wasn't insanely overpriced.

Since you don't want a photo of me eating, I'll end with Harken's illustration of the size of their product range, well worthy of a chuckle. There is a small block suspended inside the larger block, if you look closely.

Related Articles

Loads of amenity - Goes like a cut cat
As the first Cure 55 steps closer to being splashed it looked more like a Purosangue to me As the first Cure 55 steps ever closer to being splashed, I could not help thinking that it was a lot like the Ferrari Purosangue. More space than your typical two-seat hypercar, yet with the punch to dispatch distances and pretenders with complete ease. Posted on 16 May
James Clarkson on the 2024 I14 Nationals
A Q&A with James Clarkson on the 2024 International 14 U.S. Nationals Sail-World checked in with James Clarkson, president of the International 14 class, via email, to learn more about this high-level skiff regatta. Posted on 14 May
This isn't what I expected
I'm very surprised just how different the new AC75s are A month ago, when I wrote 'AC75 launching season', just three of the AC75s set to contest the 37th America's Cup in Barcelona had been revealed. Now it's five, with just the French Orient Express Racing Team left to show their hand. Posted on 13 May
Celebrating throughlines in sailing leadership
And the sailing world's newest hero Back in mid-March, Sail-World celebrated singlehanded American skipper Cole Brauer as the sailing world's newest hero. Now, I'm now happy to report that we have another sailing hero, albeit one who carries a British passport. Posted on 7 May
The Lewin-LaFrance sisters on their Olympic dreams
A Q&A with Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance on their 49erFX campaign for Paris 2024 Sail-World checked in with sisters Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance, who are representing Canada in the 49erFX event at the 2024 Paris Olympics, via email, to learn more about their campaign. Posted on 7 May
Not too hard to work out that I am unabashedly Australian Not too hard to work out that I am unabashedly Australian. Hope everyone is as proud of their country, as I am. Most folk I know seem to be. Posted on 6 May
Donna Mohr and Jon Hamilton on the 70th annual Mug
A Q&A with Donna Mohr and Jon Hamilton on the 70th annual Mug Race Sail-World checked in with Donna Mohr and Jon Hamilton, who serve as race organizers, via email, to learn more about this 38-nautical-mile river race. Posted on 1 May
Grabbing chances with both hands
Can bad weather actually lead to more sailing? There's been no getting away from the fact that it's been a pretty miserable start to 2024 weather-wise in the UK. February saw record rainfall (yes, I know we're famed for our rain over here), it's been seriously windy and generally chilly. Posted on 30 Apr news update
Transat CIC, Congressional Cup, Last Chance Regatta News from The Transat CIC from Lorient to New York, the 59th Congressional Cup where Chris Poole and Ian Williams contested the final and the Last Chance Regatta, where the final qualifiers for Paris 2024 were decided. Posted on 30 Apr news PILOT SHOW
Featuring Mozzy Sails, Weir Wood Sailing Club, Crewsaver and UpWind by MerConcept Happy to launch the news pilot show! Many thanks to contributors MozzySails, Weir Wood Sailing Club, Crewsaver and UpWind by MerConcept, sponsored by 11th Hour Racing. Posted on 28 Apr
Vaikobi 2024 FOOTERHenri-Lloyd - For the ObsessedMySail Crew