Situated in the Thames Valley to the west of London
Committed to friendly family and competitive dinghy sailing
Going Solo by Richard Lock
If you are without a boat, or are thinking of changing your boat to a single-hander, let me tempt you to think about getting a Solo. The obvious choice at the Club is to choose either a Laser or a Solo if single-handed competition is what you are after.
Jack Holt, the designer of both the National Solo and many other highly successful one design dinghies, was a founder member of Wraysbury Lake Sailing Club and its Commodore from 1956-61. As a consequence many of his designs including the prototype National Solo were extensively tested on Wraysbury Lake. So not surprisingly the Solo is well suited to our waters
Its big, fully battened, sail is shaped to capitalise on whatever the wind conditions might be; it can scoop up the lightest of zephyrs but cunningham, kicker, outhaul and mainsheet traveller mean that the sail can be de-powered very quickly. Part of the fun of sailing the Solo is getting to know how to balance these controls to get most from the sail.
The Solo is comfortable to sail, notwithstanding a lowish boom that can knock you a few times around the head before you learn how to duck. The contoured side decks allow easy movement fore and aft as you shift position from upwind sailing to reaching and running. If I have one quibble, it is that the mainsheet traveller which runs the full beam of the boat makes getting right forward to windward a bit tricky in very light winds. Tony Smith, John Hayes and Bob Sewell should be watched closely to see how it is done.
The Solo is a classic one-design single hander. In many ways a proper boat, one in which the helm sits rather than kneels or crouches. So it is comfortable and even in windy conditions fairly dry. The one-design feature ensures that boats of all ages can be highly competitive. However the class rules permit some small variations in rig and sail. So there is no optimum weight of helm, and helms ranging in weight from 10-17 stone can be very successful.
Don’t think that because of its bluff bow it is only a boat for flat inland waters. It is a very good sea boat although I have to admit that I am an absolute novice at making it go through chop. But you have to work it in any sea and this is where fitness strength and skill come in. Again the contoured side decks make hiking out as comfortable as any boat I have sailed and if you do ship water or capsize, the big built-in buoyancy means that it empties very quickly.
The Solo Fleet nationwide is a growing one, which means that Class membership is cheap at £15 p.a.. It is a thriving association with an active Open Meeting circuit and big turnouts (80 to 100 boats) at the major championships. There is a vigorous national and international programme of events if you seek adventure afar.
The boat is solidly designed and exhibits long competitive life, there are plenty of examples of boats over 30 years old being raced competitively at clubs like Wraysbury Lake. Even today, many boats are still built of wood to very high standards, although modern foam sandwich boats are available (both as all foam construction or finished with beautiful wooden decks) and are fast. This long life and wide selection of boats gives excellent value for money and superb racing.
The Solos at Wraysbury are out every Sunday, when the racing is keen but friendly. Every year we host an open meeting in the National Solo Thames Valley series, a meeting, which is always well supported.
For more information please contact Richard Lock Solo Class Captain on 01628 484812 or richardlock [at] talktalk [dot] net .