One on One
We’ve spent a lot of time following and promoting the 20-foot production sportboats, which have continued to grow at an unprecedented pace despite the economic meltdown. Their success is, in large part, due to good marketing and good product, but more importantly, these day racers provide an attractive product for racers looking to downsize their crews and bills while upsizing their adrenaline and one-design racing opportunities. The twenties have invigorated racing everywhere they’ve caught hold and helped otherwise shrinking regattas get a new lease on life; low costs, light loads, 2 or 3-person crews, easy-to-tow packages, and big grins have proven irresistable to those who get a chance to play.
We’ve been closely following another raceboat niche that has a few things in common with the twenties, and it’s just starting to heat up; the hiking, singlehanded spinnaker dinghy. The singlehanded market has been long dominated by the Laser and Finn, two ancient designs with great appeal but lots of shortfalls. The Laser is one of the most successful singlehanders in history, while the Finn enjoys huge fleets (especially in Europe) and Olympic prestige. The boats have endured despite their age; 40 years for the Laser and much longer for the Finn; partially because of their Olympic standing and partially because they are simply sweet boats in their own ways.