Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mirror Mania!

Was the Mirror Dinghy the start of the dinghy sailing boom in the UK?

Is it the reason why Britain has won more Olympic gold medals in sailing than any other nation?


Tweezerman said...

The Mirror is a brilliant dinghy design, moreso for the invention of stitch and tape construction, which has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of home built water craft. Jack Holt had been playing around in that design space for quite a while before the Mirror came out, with the junior Cadet dinghy in 1948, and the Heron dinghy in 1951. The Mirror came out in 1963 and the open cockpit, recessed seats were really designed to fit families in a sub 11' dinghy.

The Mirror is now a junior dinghy which wasn't the case when it first came out where mums and dad could race with the youngish offspring. I think this is one of the negative aspect of the English Olympic obsession; some of the popular classes broad appeal is usurped to serve as a junior feeder class into the national teams. (The Topper is another example - initially raced as a lightweight singlehander including adults, it is exclusively a junior class now.)

Some of the sharp eyed may have spotted the black and white footage as being of the Jack Holt Cadet dinghy and not the Mirror.

Tillerman said...

Are you sure the Mirror is exclusively a junior dingy these days? I just googled the 2015 Mirror Worlds and see mention of a father/son team and a father/daughter team who did very well.

Tweezerman said...

I didn't say the Mirror is an exclusively junior class but, nowadays, the adult sailor is definitely a rare specimen in top flight racing. The Mirror class in the U.S. was centered around Cleveland in the 1970's, 1980's (CABBS - the Cleveland Amateur Boat Building Society imported the kits) and the class was definitely an adult/kid, husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend sailboat. They also had one regatta a year where it was a singlehanded regatta - which I think was a great idea. I don't remember ever sailing a Mirror but I've seen them out a couple of times.

Tillerman said...

Sorry for misquoting you. You could well be right. It's just that I knew also that an English friend of mine has been sailing a Mirror in top flight racing with one of his kids for many years.

I guess my family could easily have been one of those who were early adopters. Our newspaper was the Daily Mirror so I certainly read about it when it came out and I know I was itching to get on the water in something those days. My Dad was pretty good at woodwork etc. although he never built a boat. Ah well!

Tweezerman said...

I was thinking this over, having some second thoughts, and came to the conclusion that I was too harsh on the English Olympic scheme. There are other classes which were introduced as adult/junior classes but now are raced primarily by juniors. Two of them that come to mind were originally French, both very popular, one still popular today; the Vaurien and the 420.

One of the old U.S Mothists tells the story of an early U.S championship for the 420's in the 1960's where he sailed with his wife and most of the fleet were husband and wife teams. Not the case today.

It may be simply the increased weight of young adults today vs. the post-WWII physique slimmed by rationing and shortages, this increased girth does not allow racing these smaller dinghies

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