Boats / GP14 & Mirror  Adult course, Junior course

If you are new to sailing the last thing you should consider is buying a boat, first do a sailing course, then crew with an experienced sailor.  If you are still interested, consider buying a boat on a partnership basis.

The Sailing Club hosts a diverse sailing fleet, however we actively promote two dinghies, the GP14 and the Mirror.

The GP14

Designer: Jack Holt (1949)
Length   : 4.27 m
Width    : 1.54 m                
Minimum weight: 132.9 kg
Sail area: main & jib 12.85 m + spinnaker 8.4 m
PN (2005): 1127

Optimum weight of helm and crew: 120-150kg

GP 14 Tuning guides and data

Photograph courtesy of Fyne Boat Kits, Cumbria

        The GP14 is a versatile 14 ft long, two person sailing dinghy built in either wood or plastic. Designed by Jack Holt, one of Britain's foremost dinghy designers, the boat was promoted by Yachting monthly as a robust family sailing dinghy. Compared to more recent designs, the GP14 is relatively heavy (133kg) but stable, and an ideal boat to learn to sail in. It is also raced competitively, and offers good close racing. With full racing rig of mainsail, genoa and spinnaker it can be an exiting racing boat or with main and small jib a comfortable family dinghy.

    The idea behind the design was to build a General Purpose (GP) 14 foot dinghy which could be cruised, raced and rowed equally well. In the early 1990s a new internal layout was introduced in the wooden boats (the "Series 2"), with built-in buoyancy. This was further modified in 2005, by Belfast boat builder Alistair Duffin. New boats are currently available both in wood and in glass-reinforced plastic.

    The GP14 has been popular in Ireland for 40 years and currently has fleets in 17 clubs around the country, where crews of all ages enjoy racing in brand new or older fibreglass or wooden boats costing from 500 to 7000. Because of the robust and moderate design, depreciation on GP's is very small, so not only is the boat both easy and fun to sail but it is easy on the pocket. Cost of ownership is kept down by a special class insurance scheme and restrictions on the prices of major items such as sails and masts.
The Mirror dinghy

Designed by Jack Holt / Barry Bucknell and sponsored by the London Daily Mirror in 1963, as an all-purpose boat for home building.

Length       3.3 m (10'-10") 
Beam         1.4 m (4'-7") 
Buoyancy  4 built-in tanks
Load          270 kg
Hull            Marine plywood or composite fiberglass.

Although the Mirror is not the prettiest boat ever designed, it was revolutionary in its construction method. Plywood panels are joined using Epoxy glue and fiberglass tape to produce a rigid shell. The four internal buoyancy tanks, which double as a deck and seating, impart stiffness to the hull and in the event of a capsize a Mirror will continue to float even if the cockpit is full of water.

The Mirror was first promoted as a low cost family sailing boat however in many countries its role has shifted to that of a youth training and racing boat. Since its introduction, over 70,000 Mirrors have been built around the world.

If you are interested in buying a Mirror dinghy, take a look at the following articles on the UK Mirror Site,

How to tell the age of a Mirror dinghy from its sail number
Tuning guides and data
Mirrors are now available in Wood and Composite Glass Reinforced Plastic (a fibreglass - foam sandwich).  One of the advantages of a wooden boat is that they are relatively easy to fix. Wooden boats are beautiful, however they do need regular painting and varnishing but a carefully applied paint system should last five years.

The advantages of GRP are that it is lower initial maintenance, but it still requires a lot of care and attention. The disadvantages are that no GRP boat can match the beauty of a well maintained wooden boat and that GRP deteriorates with age, use and exposure to UV light.

New wooden boats can be bought from Alistair Duffin, and the IMCAI web site also mentions that Edwin Brennan in Dunlaoghaire also builds wooden boats.

No special skills or tools required to build a Mirror, and a good dinghy requires approximately 120 hours build time. ISAF approved kits can be acquired from Trident UK the supplier in Europe.

Second hand boats can be found on the International Mirror Class Association of Ireland website or any Clubs notice board. If you are new to this game you should get an experienced hand to carefully check the condition of the boat. Any boat showing signs of neglect or a poorly executed paint job may have hidden problems.

The Mirror Class is administered by the International Mirror Class Association and the Irish branch is the International Mirror Class Association of Ireland.

Adult Sailing course

The objective of the course is to provide an introduction to sailing.

This year the course will take place over two weekends on the 2nd & 3rd June and 9th & 10th June.
Kieran Milner is the contact for the adult course (086 8342204).

The fee, which includes one years complimentary membership is 150

Adult Course application form
What do you need?

While you should preferably be able to swim, you must be confident about floating in the water wearing a buoyancy aid.

You will need to acquire a buoyancy aid that is suitable for your shape and weight, type III Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or buoyancy aids are the most suitable for dinghy sailing .

Junior Sailing Course

see details on Junior Sailing Page.


Doyen of the Dinghies

Jack Holt: 1912 - 1995
by Barry Pickthall
PPL Ltd, Booker's Yard, The Street, Walberton, Arundel, West Sussex, UK
Jack Holt was a doyen of the racing dinghy world whose innovative plywood constructed boats did most to revive sailing after the second World War and spread the sport world-wide. In a 60 year career that began on the River Thames at Hammersmith London, he spawned more than 40 class designs, his most famous being the ISAF recognized International Enterprise, Mirror and Cadet classes, together with the GP 14, Heron, Hornet and Miracle. Today, more than 250,000 of his designs can be found in Britain, North America, Australia, South Africa, India and across Europe.
The son of a panel beater, Jack Holt was born at Hammersmith, London in 1912 and soon showed a natural affinity with the waters. A member of the local troop of Sea Scouts, he helped add a little excitement to sailing the group's staid naval whaler by jamming the sweeps under the leeward gunwale and climbing out to the end of the extended oars to improve the balance and speed of the boat. Seeing this remarkable display of agility in the fast flowing River Thames caused such consternation that sailing was banned within the troop.
Jack promptly left and, together with his brother, bought 'Winnie' an ageing 14ft lug sailed clinker dinghy for 7 pounds 10s from the novelist AP Herbert who lived nearby. They paid for its upkeep by doing odd-jobs on other boats which supplemented Jack's meagre earnings as an apprentice joiner.
This promising career was cut short when, at the age of 17, his right leg was shattered in a motorcycle accident. He was in and out of hospital for the next two years and ended up with one leg 2 inches shorter than the other, but though encased in a waist-high plaster cast for much of this time, it did not stop him sailing.
During that convalescence, he built an 18ft half decked clinker dinghy in the back garden. Recalling one early lesson, he admitted many years later. "The ground was rather uneven and she finished up with a plank more on one side than the other". Despite this, 'Candlelight' enjoyed a successful racing career at the London Corinthian Sailing Club, winning many races on handicap. The boat also demonstrated Holt's innovative skills at solving problems. Because of his long convalescence, he hardly had two brass farthings to rub together and could hardly afford to build the boat, let alone the costly mast track and sail slides needed to complete her. Instead, he came up with the idea of cutting a groove up the back of the mast and slotting the bolt rope edging the sail, inside it. Three sailmakers said it was totally impractical and Jack finished up sewing pink beads to the sail to act as links to his grooved mast, but his idea soon spread right through the sport.
When his great uncle, John Holt, died in 1929, Jack took over the tiny wooden hut on Lower Mall, Hammersmith where he had operated a boat repair business. It was the start of an illustrious career that continued right through to his death. Only two weeks before his death, he was enthusiastically working on plans to re-vamp his GP 14 dinghy design to be relaunched at the London Boat Show in January, but was just as adamant in fighting proposed changes to his Enterprise design to remove the handles on the foredeck.
One of his first boats was Ace, an International 14 which won the prestigious Shackleton trophy the day after her launching. and was followed up with more winners like Rapier and Preface. These successes cut little ice with the upper class attitudes then dominating the sport, and his boat was largely sneered at when Holt turned up to compete at Cowes against such luminaries as Stuart Morris and Peter Scott. This cold shoulder treatment so incensed Beecher Moore, a young American publisher then crewing for Stuart Morris, that he made it his business to seek out this upstart once back in London. The two became firm friends, often crewing for each other and the relationship developed into a business partnership that survived for 50 years.
Holt's driving ambition was to provide economical boats for the masses rather pander to the cliquey upper set which refused him membership to their yacht clubs - because he was a tradesman. He succeeded better than any of his contemporaries to become the most successful designer in the world.
Using plywood as the primary material, he first post-war design was the Cadet, a 10ft junior trainer just as popular today, which cost just 34 in kit form and could be built by the children who sailed them.
Then came the General Purpose 14, better known as the GP 14, followed by the car toppable Heron, the exciting 16ft Hornet which, despite costing little more than 95 Pounds, came closest to beating the vastly more expensive Flying Dutchman class as the International Yacht Racing Union's choice for the Olympics.
The Solo, a sweet singlehander with beautifully sculptured side decks was always his favourite design, but three, the Enterprise, Cadet and Mirror which led to the birth of simple 'stitch and glue' amateur building system, all gained international status.
Jack Holt was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1979 for his services to sailing and was also presented with a Golden Anchor, the highest award given by the sport by Britain's Royal Yachting Association.
A slight man with a shock of white hair, he was quiet, shy and unassuming, but few people in the sport today will not either have sailed or owned one of his designs. He was an ordinary man who achieved extraordinary heights, and whose legacy to the sport he loved will live on for many years to come.
Barry Pickthall Copyright 2001 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed.