I thought some might like to hear my experience of my new boat, especially as the boys at Beer are new to the Solo game: Several people have asked me recently... Firstly, why did I go this way, after a season with a Boon? Was it a bit impetuous? And I certainly wasn't unhappy with the Boon.
1. Newly optimised shape from Jo Richards: As fine and narrow forward as possible. Pretty bow profile. Narrowest waterlines, and very flat run aft. I knew it would be quick when planing, but how would it be in the light? I knew the Boon was great for the bigger guys, like me. (90+ kg)
2. Lowest centreboard casing of all - I measured them all - 10mm lower than the next lowest and 25mm lower than my Boon. I figured I could have a max length leech and still get under the boom - for me this was crucial.
3. Raised inner edge of sidedeck aft to stop water scoop in a tack - I was sceptical, but it is significant - far more effective than I thought.
4. Lower traveller and thwart. I thought this might add to sheet loads, but it doesn't at all... and big side benefit that I did not see coming is that it is more comfortable in the light when astride the thwart - easier to move around and you do not feel "perched up high" as I did before.
5. Side tanks sweep in forward - forward bulkhead is narrower... less water up forward in a capsize... add the big flaps at the back and it appears to drain far quicker after a capsize, and scoop less in during a dry capsize - not that I capsize anyway of course!
6. Gunwale shape same as the Boon - really comfortable - never had to wear hikers. By the way, adding progrip is a must - it really helps to anchor you, which in turn eases hiking stresses.
7. Toestrap positions same as Winder - one strap for 95% of sailing. Did not like to 2 strap arrangements.
8. Double floor where no chance of water ingress, single floor elsewhere - to me the best of both worlds.
I have known Ian Teasdale for a long time - he has probably built or overseen the build of more epoxy foam dinghies than anyone - via the RS classes, and then at BY at B... Well, OK, certainly right up there with Dave Winder; and Chris Turner at Ovington!! Kevin Driver is a craftsman, so the tooling, and build attention to detail was always going to be good. But better than expected? Well, I have to say yes... and I have had a few boats in my time!
1. Foils are perfect - and feature sharp entries at waterline. Composite stock is far stiffer and just as light as the aluminium. Board and blade are perfect fits.
2. Hull moulding is perfect - no print through, "show" of joins or bulkheads, dull gelcoat, or sign of moisture absorption.
3. Attention to detail - Tuffnell beautifully crafted around mastgate, and for halliard chafe. Thwart has moulding underneath to finish and avoid exposed ply. Toe loops smooth and immaculate. Neat cover for the lead at the back of the casing. Slot gasket very fair and nicely designed. Not leaked a drop so far - all hatches air tight... drilled breather holes in hatch covers.
So am I quicker than in the Boon - well I think so, especially offwind, and no slower in the light. Of course I have changed the mast and this could be making more difference than I know. Actually, I take the view that most epoxy Solo hulls are fast enough to win races, but some are just crisper, packed with good features and a pleasure to own. I think I will keep this one!
Long live the HISC Solo fleet - great racing, friendly, and inclusive. Basically if there is a template for a successful club class, this is it!
Nick Peters, Hayling Island Sailing Club