Championship stakes

Gerald New assesses the dinghy classes which are growing in the UK and those which are not
As the 2002 dinghy season ends we see just who the winners and losers were in this year's Championship Stakes. It certainly paid to be a single hander and young! The Topper class was just that at number one again for the third time in five years, and continued to add competitors, breaking through the 200 barrier. The Optimist class was also up there and even after splitting the junior and senior fleets, still saw both fleets over the 100 mark. The other singlehander in the top grouping was the Laser in both Standard and Radial rigs, with the Radial cracking the 100 and overtaking the Standard rig. Breaking the mono grip was the Cadet, taking third place with another 100 plus entry. Dropping down the chart is the relative newcomer, the RS400, top of the charts back in 1999 the RS400 is now down at seventh, shedding over 40 entries since those heady days. Taking top open keelboat is the Squib, bouncing back this year from a poor 2001 result. Rounding out the top ten are the RS200, dropping a few entries but maintaining a steady 80, and the Solo on a five year high at 76. If the 50 entry is taken as the criteria for a healthy class championship then 26 made the cut and 19 of them increased their numbers. This top group totalled 2087 boats compared with 2013 last year. So, an overall increase in numbers for the countries most popular classes with some great growth for the Junior classes, hopefully indicating an improved future for dinghy racing. The old guard still hanging in there and the newer classes showing a slight decline, while a number of smaller production classes make steady progress towards a top 50 placing. Apart from the Laser the Olympic classes fail to find wide appeal, the 49er coming