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A show like no other - USA newsletter


A show like no other

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RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Paul Wyeth / RYA

Dear Recipient Name

I've written a lot about the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show in the past and am sure I will write more on it in the future. Last year I wrote 'It may not be the biggest...'. The reason I keep coming back to it is that it's truly a show like no other.

Most commonly known as just the Dinghy Show (or the Dinghy Exhibition for those who remember its history back to when it was first held at Picketts Lock) it brings together dinghies old and new, sailors young and old, all under one roof. What ensues is two days of chat, business and sales, which kick start the dinghy sailing season in the UK.

MPU July August September   Colligo Marine 2024 MPU

RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Paul Wyeth / RYA
RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Paul Wyeth / RYA

There are many though who now sail throughout the year in the UK (yes, confirming for those in warmer climes, this is possible!) and the show also hosts the prize-giving of the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series, the brainchild of top sailing journalist Andy Rice, which for the past 15 years has brought together once disparate events into a cohesive series.

In the UK we have an extraordinary number of dinghy sailing classes, and the Dinghy Show is a great opportunity to see many of them, or at least the most active ones. Take a look at the Classes page on and and you'll see a dropdown list which goes on for quite some way - many of these are at the show.

Marskeel 2019 600x500   Allen 2022 - TiiTAN MPU

RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Paul Wyeth / RYA
RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2024 - photo © Paul Wyeth / RYA

Some of the chat at the show is always about there being too many classes, meaning that class attendance at events is lower and diluted, while others will applaud the range, as they can find a boat which is 'just right' for them.

Having so many classes does mean that handicap systems are all-important, and another major area for discussion. In the UK we have two dinghy systems in use: the Portsmouth Yardstick Number (known as the PY) and the Great Lakes handicaps.

If you're going to have disparate dinghies sailing against each other, you want to feel like your dinghy handicap is fair, and every year at the Dinghy Show the latest PY numbers are announced. These are reviewed annually and adjusted according to previous results submitted by clubs.

North Sails Performance 2023 - MPU   A+T Instruments 2024 MPU

GJW Direct 48th Bloody Mary - photo © Mark Jardine
GJW Direct 48th Bloody Mary - photo © Mark Jardine

The Great Lakes system, which is used for the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series, starts with the PY numbers as a basis, then a committee meets to review the results of the individual events, and the new race data will be added to the analysis. The results from the latest winter events are considered when setting handicaps for the following season.

If a class has been performing well in handicap events then inevitably their handicap will suffer in each review, leading to much shaking of heads and muttering at the Show, whereas conversely some classes where the handicap has improved will be strangely quiet about it, almost as if mentioning the change might make someone take it back!

Zhik 2024 February Outlet - MPU   Barton Marine 2019 600x500

Radio Sailing at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show - photo © Nigel Barrow
Radio Sailing at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show - photo © Nigel Barrow

Class association stands at the Show are significantly cheaper than the commercial stands, which allow them to attend and try to attract new sailors to their design of dinghy, as well as chat with their regular sailors. They also use it to launch and promote their season calendars, run competitions, and highlight sponsorships they may have.

Showing their class in the best light usually means a gleaming new boat on display, or a well-presented older boat. There were many examples of wooden decks varnished to perfection, and a fair few LED lights under gunwhales to make the hulls shine just a little more.

There is a strong incentive to make a special effort on presentation as each year there is a trophy for the best boat of the show. I've been judging the Concours d'Elegance with various people over the past 16 years, and this year was joined by the British Sailing Team's 49er crew Fynn Sterritt. He understandably was drawn to boats with wings, while I couldn't help running my hand over a shining wooden deck. We both though admired the Firefly F503, Jacaranda, and judged it to be the winner of the 2024 award. This boat was sailed by the British Olympic representative, Arthur McDonald, in the 1948 Olympics, where the sailing was held in Torbay.

Henri-Lloyd 2023 Freo Jacket - SW MPU   March to end August 2024 affiliate link

1948 Olympic Firefly wins Concours d'Elegance at the RYA Dinghy and Watersports Show - photo © Paul Wyeth / RYA
1948 Olympic Firefly wins Concours d'Elegance at the RYA Dinghy and Watersports Show - photo © Paul Wyeth / RYA

The dinghy was discovered 25 years ago in Norfolk, and since was lovingly restored by Alastair Vines. This really was a combination of beauty and rare provenance and had us won over and, judging from the comments I've received since, many others as well.

Over the two days nearly 8,900 people came to the 2024 RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show, which was 400 more than in 2023. It's always nice to see an increase in days when people talk of decline.

The show is vital as it is the sounding board for true grass-roots sailing. Multi-time world champions chat with impassioned club sailors, marine industry icons help anyone and everyone with any questions they may have, companies show the latest sailing equipment available, and clubs and classes try to persuade you to join them.

Vaikobi 2024 Feb - MPU   Rooster 2023 - MPU

Dinghy & Watersports Show - photo © Paul Wyeth / RYA
Dinghy & Watersports Show - photo © Paul Wyeth / RYA

It's an amazing, passionate, energetic show thanks to the people there, exhibitors and visitors alike.

We're still adding content we created during the show, as well as content from the clubs and classes which is still arriving, but it can all be found here. Videos, photos, and articles aplenty showing the latest, the not-so-new, innovations, initiatives, the latest colour trends and the slightly unusual can all be found.

Enjoy all we have from the show like no other.

Mark Jardine and Managing Editor

RS Sailing 2021 - MPU   Selden 2023 CXe

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Cup Spy March 2: Luna Rossa retire test boat. Progress report for January and February
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Vendée Globe Press Release with reference to Clarisse Crémer's Rule 69.2 Hearing
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St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Overall
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Resilient, determined Armel Le Cléac'h takes third in the Arkea Ultim Challenge-Brest
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Cyclops 2024 February MPU   J Composites 2022 - J45 v4 MPU
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470 World Championship in Llucmajor, Mallorca - Overall
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Optiorange 2024 at Real Club Náutico de Valencia - Overall
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2024 Superyacht Challenge Antigua - Stan the Man and The Magnificent Seven
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18ft Skiff Winnings 2024 JJ Giltinan Championship Day 2
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J/Teams crush Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race
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KZRaceFurlers   PredictWind - Wave Routing 300x250
Cup Spy March 1: The Cup countdown clock ticks louder as Spring arrives in Europe
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18ft Skiff Winnings 2024 JJ Giltinan Championship Day 1
Race 1 of the Winnings 2024 JJ Giltinan Championship set the regatta off on the highest possible note on Sydney Harbour today with one of the best 18ft skiff races seen on the harbour for several seasons.

2024 Puerto Vallarta Race at San Diego Yacht Club - Overall
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SOUTHERNSPARS_MAST-&-BOOMS_SW_300X250-AGLAIA   C-Tech 2020 Battens 2 300x250
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Waiting for the “second winner” of the Global Solo Challenge
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Armstrong 300x250 A-Wing XPS Range   Mackay 250
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A summer at C-Tech - four engineering students work as interns
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Coast Guard Foundation 2023 MPU   Doyle Sails 2020 - Built for Adventure 300x250
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BVI Spring Regatta added to Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series
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Second placed Thomas Coville returns to a warm Brest welcome
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Lloyd Stevenson - Artnautica60 300x250px   ABS24-SailWorld-600x500_04
Cyclops Marine Load Sensor Competition at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show
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97th Bacardi Cup and 2024 Bacardi Invitational Regatta welcomes record entry
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Thomas Coville, Sodebo Ultim 3, takes second place in the Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest
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Entries open for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2024
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Sail at the 37th America's Cup, Régates Royales Cannes, and many more
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Knut Frostad joins Henri-Lloyd as Executive Chairman
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Entries open for the RS21 World Championship 2024
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International Melges 24 Class starts a new decade with new Class Rules
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ARKEA Ultim Challenge Winner | TEAM GITANA
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North Kiteboarding joins the race for Olympic Gold
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Charles Caudrelier crowned first king of the Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest
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Offshore accomplishments in the Global Solo Challenge and the Arkéa Ultim Challenge
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Charlotte Borghesi, the first woman to win the SB20 World Championship
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World Sailing publishes Olympic Vision to steer the sport through to Brisbane 2032
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Charles Caudrelier and the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild take the crown in Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest
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French skipper Charles Caudrelier wins the first Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest solo multihull race
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Cup Spy Feb 26: Swiss get roughed up by the Barcelona seastate
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Back with a vengeance
Categorically been on this bandwagon from the beginning. Flag bearing, card-carrying, full-blown trumpeter. Mixed two-handed offshore. You might argue it had a wee false start, but it just was a bridge too far at the time

2024 Melges 15 Winter Series Event 2 winner decided in final race
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Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest: Charles the magnificent
He waited half a century to realise his dream of a single-handed circumnavigation of the globe. And perhaps this is the point, which will enable the public to really get an insight into this great yet very discreet sailor.

Zhik 2024 February Outlet - FOOTER

Selden 2020 - FOOTER

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