SECOND SUBPART – Drifting is sweet to me in this sea: the super classics


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Francesca Russo Cirillo and Alice Linussi busy taming their 470 at the 2018 Italian Olympic Classes Championship. Photo Giuffrè/Sailing Newspaper

There are boats that can give you that excitement, that sense of freedom that is there in waiting for the breeze to arrive on the beach with the boat already ready. The thrill of getting sand on her feet as we push her into the water. Take those four five steps with water coming up to our waist to push the boat out of the wave and get on board on the fly. Cocking the sails, feeling her go, going out on the trapeze with the wind in her face. The wake coming off even upwind, and a feeling of happiness and adrenaline that only dinghies, these little big boats, can give us. Try it to believe. After the first installment (Read it HERE.) where we tried to convey the philosophy and meaning of these boats, in this second one we are going to tackle what we have called “Super Classics,” that is, boats that have raised generations and generations of enthusiasts without ever getting boring, offering that mix of technique, adrenaline, speed and fun that can train complete sailors who will then be able to go on any other boat.

THE 420

The first hull went into the water in 1960, designed by Frenchman Cristian Maury. It is for the younger ones the typical “transition” boat: once the Optimist activity is over, the teenagers have to choose whether to go for a single, the Laser in the radial version given their age, or a double. In the latter case, the choice very often falls on 420, which, by the way, is a drift that can amuse even older people if they have a good physique. A planing dinghy equipped with a trapeze, not the easiest to set up but quite intuitive in its handling, in the stern it mounts a small spinnaker with a tangon.

Technical details:

Length: 4.2m

Width: 1.63m

Draft: 0.98

Weight: 98t

Windward sail: 10.25sqm

THE 470

Di Salle – Dubbini at the 2018 Italian Olympic Classes Championship. Photo Giuffrè/Sailing Newspaper

One of the quintessential Olympic classes that has trained some of the world’s greatest sailors in its history, designed in 1963 by André Cornu. A physically demanding double, capable of explosive speeds and glides even upwind. Compared to the 420, it has many more adjustments and the setting in various weather conditions is even more complex, but it is a boat that can give great satisfaction and fun. With the right physical fitness, it can be a boat open to a wide audience, as long as it is authentically sporty, for those who want to feel the water and the wind in their faces.

Overall length 4.70 m

Width1.68 m

Dive 1.40 m

Weight115 kg

Mainsail surface 9.12 sqm

Jib surface area 3.58 square meters

Spinnaker surface 13 sqm

The Laser

A Laser class athlete at the 2018 Genoa Italian Olympic Classes Championship. Photo Giuffrè/Sailing Newspaper

Originating in 1971 from the pencil of Bruce Kirby, it is the world’s most widely used single-driver and will probably remain so for a long time. Its success is due to its simplicity and ease of transportation, but beware this does not mean it is an easy boat to drive to the top. In fact, getting to high competitive levels requires physique, lots of training and extensive knowledge of the variables of adjustments. The fun, however, even if you are not particularly experienced, is assured. Easy to right in the event of a capsize, but not easy to steer in strong winds, wingable with extreme ease from a beach, it is perhaps the drift boat par excellence. In Radial and 4.7 versions it is offered with reduced sail for younger people or girls.

Length 4.06 m

Width1.42 m

Weight 59 kg

Mainsail area 7.06 /5.7 /4.7 sq. m.

The Finn

We could call it a now former Olympic class as the historic Finn looks set to make its last glorious appearance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Originated in 1950 at the hands of Rickard Sarby, the Finn is the quintessential single for athletes over 90 kg, and often over 100. Mountains of muscle and technique that on 4.5-meter boats have taken Olympic sailing to almost unmatched heights of quality. A mix of over-the-top technique in conducting and brutal strength, the secret of the Olympic Finn has always been in the balance from these two ingredients. It is a boat that is also a challenge for sailors who do not employ it in racing but simply want to have fun to test themselves physically and technically; in short, a boat for those who like challenges.

Overall length 4.50 m

Width 1.51 m

Hull immersion 0.9 m

Weight119 kg

Total sail area 9.30 square meters

Hobie Cat 16

Big brother to the 14 that was the first cat of the Hobie generation, the 16 is by far the most popular beach catamaran in the world. It made its debut in 1971 based on designs by Hobie Alter and Phil Edwards and was produced in over 130,000 hulls. With its unmistakable banana-shaped hulls, it is a catamaran that can give exciting performance even to the inexperienced with glides even over 20 knots, and does not require exaggerated technical preparation but certainly good physical dynamism. In a way, the Hobie 16 with its often colorful sails represents a symbol of the “beach life,” that is, of all those sailors who conceive of sailing only with a small boat positioned on the beach with the sails already rigged waiting for the breeze to arrive to splash into the water.

Weight 145 kg (320 lb)

Length 5.05 m

Width 2.41 m

Spinnaker area 15 sqm

Upwind surface 20 sqm



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