The continued enthusiasm of most of the associations is what the RYA's Sailboat and Windsurf show is all about

As the kick start to the racing season it’s not surprising to see so many dinghy classes attending this year’s Sailboat and Windsurf Show.

However, apart from the 370 dinghy which was mentioned the Sailboat report yesterday, the RSFeva and the Magno, Topper’s new two-man sitting out boat, there are few new boats to report on. What is interesting however, is the continued enthusiasm of most of the associations who are there simply to promote their class.

We caught up with the Phantom which is a prime example of how a 30-year-old class is as popular now as it’s ever been with its unique attraction that no other class has quite achieved. Chatting to Matt Rainbow who’s just put his name down for a new boat, it’s quite clear why he’s gone back to the class. “I love the Phamtom,’ It’s a growing class and caters for non-professional sailors. The boat is very well set up and virtually maintenance free, and generally has a good standard of competition without being too hot.”

But the main reason why so many sailors come back to the Phantom is its weight carrying ability and the friendliness of the class. “I weight about 13 stone which is a bit on the light side,” added Rainbow, “with the ideal being about 15 stone. However, you do have to be fit. Most people who do well on the racecourse are fairly fit.” John Torrance, committee member of the association added: “If your’re too big for a Laser, Solo or Finn, the Phantom is the ideal boat to move in to.”

The boat on the stand is a typical Vander Craft-built, epoxy foam sandwich, double bottom boat costing around the £6,000 mark which, in the hands of Simon Childs, won the championship last year. Sporting a standard carbon fibre rig and Pinnell & Bax this boat has a simple cockpit layout with all the controls including the kicking strap, Cunningham, forestay, lowers and outhaul led to the foredeck for easy adjustment.

The Cadet class is another favourite and despite the continued influx of new starter boats hitting the dinghy scene, this boat never fails to attract some of the world’s top up and coming sailors. Jeff Mahew, who’s a Cadet parent was keen to chat about the Capel Boats, the new Cadet builder. “They took over from Rondar and put together a package of various options of set up from the basic learner example to the technical racer. The company has effectively provided the class a good quality hull with different rig options to help the development of the class.” The boat on show for the beginner was rigged with McNamara training sails and set up as simple as possible for the newcomer.

As yet the Capel Cadet has not really proved itself on the international circuit but given time and, put in the hands of an up and coming hot shot, there’s no reason why the Capel couldn’t be seen a the top of the rankings within the next year.

With so many low maintenance, glass/carbonfibre boats flooding the market, it’s always interesting to visit the Merlin Rocket stand where it’s guaranteed you’ll find one of the most beautifully finished wood boats at the show. This year, Richard Bramley was proud to present his £15,000 Laurie Smart Make it So design which is a development of the Smart’s previous design. “The difference,” says Bramley, “is that this new boat is finer on the waterline to promote earlier planing. It also a new centreboard which has been designed, with a curved leading edge which matches the front of the case, to prevent the water slopping up the case in to the boat.”

One of the most striking things about this boat, apart from the obvious amazingly beautiful finish, was the distinct un-Merlin Rocket like, uncomplicated cockpit layout with just a handful of control lines led to the thwart, and a centre mainsheet strop instead of a solid hoop. According to Bramley because you don’t have to adjust anything, the strop instead of the hoop saves five seconds on every tack.

The Chipstowe Boatyards carbonfibre rig seen on this boat is the favourite choice with most of the top players at the moment including Mike Calvert, who won the national championship last year opting for this set up.

While this boat is yet to be raced, Bramley believe it has huge potential and is £15,000 well spent!