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The slightly unusual at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024

by Magnus Smith 1 Mar 04:00 PST 25-26 February 2023
The Wilkinson Sword is a travellers trophy - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 © Magnus Smith

Back in Farnborough, Hampshire, for the third year running, the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show presented the usual huge range of sailing craft, mostly focussed on racing. It's always a great weekend seeing the latest hulls, new rope systems, crinkliest sails, and innovative products. But I always have an eye for the slightly unusual...

A huge silver sword! Well that caught my eye immediately. The Osprey class have quite the biggest trophy I have ever seen, awarded for their travellers trophy since 1979. The Wilkinson Sword was even used to cut a wedding cake, for one lucky Osprey couple. I suspect the person who had it mounted was very keen on there being enough space to affix the winners' name plaques for the next 250 years. It is a huge piece of wood over 3ft high!

The Wilkinson Sword is a travellers trophy - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

My love of colour (boo hiss to white plastic hulls) was sated by Extreme Trailers showing us how winch webbing and keel rollers can now be colour matched.

Match your winch webbing to the rollers, with Extreme Trailers - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

Synergy Marine had done an excellent paint job on this Europe dinghy. I was fascinated by the way this class uses a non-watertight compartment just aft of the mast, which control lines run through.

New paint job from Synergy Marine - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

The ISO class were excited to show off their new re-designed hull, but since the changes were nearly all internal to the structure, and not visible, they had to resort to a simple way of making punters realise how much hull weight had been saved. Yes, 30kg!

The new construction of the ISO means 30kg weight removed - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

Flying Fifteens may have keels, but their planing nature means they are firmly welcome in this dinghy show. It seems they are more worried than other classes about a rogue wave plopping down the spinnaker chute. Apparently they have a lower freeboard than many smaller boats, and it's easy to push that bow under if you're not careful. Hence this very neat and tidy waterproof cover at the bow.

Keeping water out of the Flying Fifteen spinnaker chute - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

Others classes with keels were present: this radio-controlled One Metre was on display next to the model yachting 'lake'. It sported a wild new design of double jib-boom which really got my inner geek excited.

A jib boom on a One Metre radio-controlled yacht - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

A less technical rig was to be seen at the Andrew Simpson Foundation stand, where races were won or lost with a flick of the wrist. Pairs of competitors were battling to see who could wind their painter around a hand-held bar, to drag their wooden boat over the 2m course first.

Competition time with the Andrew Simpson Foundation - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

Another wooden class is the Tideway, and it seems this owner is not worried about "keeping weight out of the ends". A nice framed poster complements the boat's name.

Transom of a Tideway dinghy - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

Sailors over the age of 40 will be familiar with an increasing interest in healthy eating options. I am no exception. I was please to find the free water bottle refill station at the Show, so I could avoid needless sugar in my drinks.

Rooster Sailing, however, attempted to lure me back into sugar, with this array of cupcakes laid on for their 25th anniversary celebrations. It was in 1999 that Steve Cockerill first started the company. He seems to have done pretty well considering the size of the Rooster display exceeded nearly every other stand in the hall!

25 year celebrations for Rooster - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

Another sad reminder of my age could be seen on the Fernhurst Books stand. As a child I loved the "Sail To Win" series, penned by the great sailors of the day. My sense of nostalgia was most upset to spot every book had changed, and the new authors were my contemporaries in age: Nick Craig and Ben Ainslie, for example.

Racing books have all been updated - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

The day just kept on getting worse, as RS Sailing promoted their free Sailors Club by hitting me with a reminder of a childhood pleasure long denied! I still haven't got over being refused entry to a ball pit when I was 12 years old. It's a pleasure I thought I could enjoy all my life.

Competition time with RS Sailing - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

A similar competition was running at the Sea Sure stand. I assume punters had to guess whether this bucket held enough bobbles for the rope systems on one Merlin Rocket, two 505s, or one hundred ILCAs.

Competition time with Sea Sure - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

I thought a trip to the Amateur Yacht Research Society would cheer me up after this upset, as I love seeing them push the boundaries of conventional thinking. I was glad to see an innovative design of furling jib that I had not seen in the wild before.

Novel furling ideas from the Amateur Yacht Research Society - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

More cunning furling ideas were seen on the new Nacra 570. A strip of UV-resistant cloth on the foot/leech means the furled sail can be left up all week on the beach, without damage from the sun.

The new Nacra 570 has a protective UV strip on the furling jib - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

Happier childhood memories awaited me at the stand promoting sailing on the Norfolk Broads, with a lovely model of the yacht used in filming one of the 'Swallows and Amazons' series of books for a TV series. We should never forget that moment which got us into sailing - for me it was books.

A beautiful cruiser model from the Norfolk Broads - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

Safe in the knowledge that I could enjoy books at any age, I decided to embrace my mortality, and acknowledge that I really needed a sit down. The Allen Brothers stand had the best seating in the whole place: an inflatable sofa that was actually comfortable!

Rest your weary legs on Allen's inflatable sofa - at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Magnus Smith

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