Morrison 12 design Morrison 12 design

Countdown To Weymouth 2011

Buyers guide to the International 14 class

Saturday February 27th 2010, Author: Ed Clay, Location: United Kingdom

Suntans from the recent Sydney Worlds are only just fading, but already attention in the International 14 class is beginning to turn to Weymouth and the next world championship in September 2011.

With 100 boats expected, the superb facilities of WPNSA and the legendry 14 parties should make it a great event. But how can you be involved? The development nature of the class, with different designs and no two boats quite the same, means it can be confusing for those coming into the class. So what are the options for newcomers to the fleet, or those returning, who want to get a boat for Weymouth in 2011?

The first thing to realise is that while all the boats are different they go pretty similar speeds. Hull shapes have stabilised over the last few years - there were five different designs in the top 10 at the Sydney worlds and three boats over five years old. As in any class you will have a bit on to win the nationals with old sails and a tired boat, but these are difficult boats to sail well and while hull shape does make a difference, other factors - most importantly time in the boat - make a much bigger difference.

Second hand boats

Competitive secondhand boats start at around £4k – designs to look for at this price are Morrison 10s, Ovington 2s and Bieker 2s and 3s. These boats are ideal first twin trapeze boats and while nine years old, or older, being carbon they will still be stiff and strong.

At around £6k Bieker 4s and Morrison 12s start appearing. These boats are fully competitive and represent great value for those who have experience in skiffs and want to get near the top of the fleet. Tom Heywood who helmed a seven year old Bieker 4 to second in the Prince of Wales race (UK nationals) and 10th at the Worlds said: “it hasn’t been the boat that has been holding us back. Tactics, handling and most importantly set up of the controls like kicker and jib sheet make a much bigger difference. At the worlds we were as quick as anyone in a straight line before the regatta but the winners were able to sail much nearer to 100% during the races when it was all on.”

There are also a few Bieker 5s beginning to appear on the second hand market. This is the design that won the worlds in Sydney, sailed by Archie Massey and Dan Wilsdon. Being newer they start at around £12k.

Things to look for in second hand boats are similar to other classes – sound hulls, newer rigs and sails and importantly in the 14 good foils, including a T-foil.

The other thing that you need to think about when buying a boat is how much adjustment you want. Some boats have pinned rigs whereas others have fully adjustable rigs with shrouds and rig tension adjustable from the wire. Adjustment allows the rake and mast bend to be altered as the wind speed changes, and while this is useful on longer courses, you can easily spend all your time worrying about set up and not sailing the boat fast. More systems also means more boat work - it’s a personal choice and depends on what type of sailor you are.

Off the shelf new boats

Ovington Boats built four Pickled Egg designs in 2009 which proved very successful with Roger Gilbert and Ben McGrane winning the PoW and coming second in the worlds. Ovington are now building a ‘kit’ of hull, foils etc. that can be finished by other builders. Kit prices should be confirmed soon and the on the water price will depend on sail choice etc. Several builders such as Ian Teasdale, Simon Maguire, Simon Hiscocks and Alistair Richardson have shown interest in finishing the boats so there is plenty of choice. This option is the simplest way of getting up to speed. The boats are fast out of the box and settings can easily be replicated from other similar boats.

One-offs and home builds

Some people just can’t resist having their dream boat and for them there are two options; get a one off/small batch built or build your own at home. This option allows you to set everything up as you want. However, doing the work yourself it is a lot of work. Glen Truswell has never raced a 14, but has spent the whole winter working on putting together a new David Howlett design.

“I have genuinely enjoyed putting the boat together” he says, “however….. someone once told me that you don’t know what you don’t know until you realise that you don’t know it and this certainly could not have been more true in this instance!”

George Nurton, who was involved in building the boat that has won the last two Worlds, is going one step further and building two boats from scratch himself. The boats have been designed by another 14 sailor, Tom Partington, and Nurton is planning to complete the project for under £10k per boat. However this option requires both patience and skills and as George says “I only think I can do this because I have been heavily involved in the build of Archie and Katie's boats”. Probably not an option for the beginner!

Classics and penultimates

The International 14 rules changed in 1996 when the merger with the Aussie 14ft skiff happened. Boats built before this time are known as penultimates, or classics if they were built before the mid-1980s. While not competitive with a modern 14, both of these classes are most welcome at any 14 event, race on the same course and enjoy good racing amongst themselves. Penultimates have asymmetric spinnakers and twin trapezes. They can be picked up for under £1000 and are an ideal first twin trapeze boat. Classics with their centreboards and symmetric spinnakers sail well on restricted water. The older wooden classics look almost like pieces of furniture, requiring a good deal of varnishing and love to keep them on the water.

So there’s something for everyone and no excuse for not being on the startline in Weymouth in 2011. If you want advice on getting into the 14 class, have any questions or just want to find out what the fuss is about then visit us at the RYA Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace on the 6th and 7th March, or visit our website.

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