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National Solos take over the Palace

by Will Loy, President NSCA 11 Mar 2017 17:45 GMT 4-5 March 2017

The National Solo Class Association once again put on a great display at Alexandra Palace over the weekend.

There were three Solos on the NSCA stand, the first, an FRP Winder Mk 1a fitted out with Allen Brothers hardware and owned by Vince Horey.

Tech Stuff

The Winder comes in two underwater shapes, the Mk 1 with minimal rocker and beam for lighter helms and the Mk 2 for the heavier sailor, with more rocker and increased "V" at the bow to promote lift onto the plane. The Mk 1a has a tweaked deck with higher side tanks which promotes a higher helm position when hiking and reduces the likelihood of scooping up water with an over zealous roll tack. The side tanks near the transom also keep the sailor dryer in "all out blasting" mode.

Vince, part of the Allen Brothers team used Allen hardware throughout the boat and chose the medium cut radial laminate P&B sail and the Selden D+ mast. All lines were painstakingly spliced and continuous with elastics to keep them tensioned. The medium cut sail was developed with input from hotshot Mike Sims, who recently finished 2nd in the Noble Marine Winter Championship.

The Winder really has set the benchmark for all FRP builds and there continual development of the class really does much to keep it vibrant.

The second Solo on the stand, a FRP P&B / JP Solo, owned by P&B jockey Oli Wells, was equipped throughout with Harken hardware and sported, no surprises, a P&B radial medium cut laminate sail on the D+. Lightweight Oli recently swapped to the Selden D+ from the Zeta mast.


P&B and John Poulson, an established Solo builder had, some time ago teamed up to produce an FRP hull with very distinctive bow sections which made it instantly recognisable. The very pointed bow was developed to increase speed in chop while maximising water length. This resulted in a Solo that feels very much like it is "on rails" and subsequently fast in a straight line. Ian Pinnell used this hull at the 2013 Hayling Island Nationals and showed glimpses of speed. Fast forward to 2017 and, following the build transferring from "in house" to expert Fireball builder Richard Wagstaff, it is now in production.

The hull on show sported black thwart and capping and heavily non slipped flooring. While the first hull does require some small cosmetic tweaks, the feeling from those that viewed it was very positive. As is to be expected, the fit out by P&B was uncompromising and very detailed. There is also a choice of foil flexibility, an often overlooked tuning option.

Boats of Wood, Men of Steel

The third Solo on the stand was a beautifully presented Gosling Dinghycaft FRP composite, 4803, built in 2008. OK, not all wood but fooled many! This stunning example is the NSCA President's own boat and has been refurbished over the Winter by Cowes based Precision Marine. Simon Watnough uses techniques and products that are more at home on racing yachts including Awlgrip G-line non slip flooring, Durapox 2000 urethane clear varnish and Dupont 2000 red on the topsides. Y+Y even mentioned the Solo in the same article as the Concours winner! Aside from the beautiful finish and unbelievable craftsmanship from builder Kevan Gosling, the boat sported a new North F2 laminate sail on a developed Superspars M7+ and matching B+ boom.

North Sails developed several versions of their P2 cut, the F2 may well stand for "fat" though I prefer "full" as the acronym. This Solo also featured 'Finn' style extra wide hiking straps from Chris Gould's Creation Covers.

Mast Evolution

Superspars need no introduction to the dinghy scene, they are huge in some classes but the fad in the Solo has been the Selden D+.

Superspars' Simon Bevan and the team have been working hard behind the scenes and the M7+ has a choice of internal sleeves to suit the helm as well as a huge library of mast extrusion data. This data allows the team to supply the sailor with exactly the same bend characteristics in replacement masts time and time again. Also, the very technical recipe of Magnesium and other alloys has ensured gust response is optimised.

Another interesting development, and a result of the modern Solo employing an inhaul was the Superspars system which involved internal mast sheaves, one at the gooseneck and one at the base of the mast. This negates the need for tying/taping blocks either side of the mast. The B+ boom has improved stiffness so it will be interesting to see this rig in action in 2017.

With the need for more controls comes the need for more mounting bases and Composite Craft, based on the IOW produced two very catching carbon mounting bases for this Solo. This modern material was also used under the mainsheet block to reduce wear and cover an old repair!

You wait for three then five come along!

There were two other Solos on show, no one wanted to miss the party!

Allen Brothers

Making a big impression at the show, this UK based firm pulled out all the stops and, with a factory fitted out Boatyard at Beer Solo on show, provided yet another choice for those wanting a single hander.

This South West based builder have been building Solos for a number of years and with the likes of Salcombe's Chris Cleaves and Martin Frary producing some top results, the hull is undeniably fast. There are a number of features unique to the Kevin Driver built Solo, concealed forestay fitting and corrector cover are just two. The hull on the Allen stand was sporting the P2 North sail on the Selden D+.

Ovington Boats

Nathan Batchelor was on hand to show off the new Ovington hull, fitted out to an exacting standard and rigged with the National Championship winning D+/HD Gold Maxx. Ovington bought the all conquering Boon plug a few years ago and following some serious re-development, now have a top example. Ovington Boats have a long history of FRP production in many high performance designs and the Solo on show had all the usual refinements including the very ‘Ovi' floor grip as standard. Andy Davis was on hand on Saturday and managed to get his ‘major’ winning HD Gold Maxx on Vince’s Winder as well as the Ovington!

So, Winder Boats, P&B JP, Gosling Dinghycraft, Boatyard at Beer and Ovington Boats, plenty of hull choice, tick.

North Sails P2, F2, P&B laminate, HD Sails as some of the examples of rags to use, tick. Selden and Superspars masts, tick.

A massive thanks to Vince and Oli for the use of their ships and also to Nathan and Allen Brothers for the Solos on their stands.

Thanks to the cracking NSCA team of volunteers including, Steve Ede, Rob Laurie, Godfrey Clark, Pete Mitchell, Andy Hyland, Phil Sturmer, Graham Wilson, Claire Clark, Roger Gravatt, Shaun Welsh, Guy Maygar and most importantly, Andrew Thompson, our show co-ordinator. I may well have missed a few names so apologies.

Let the season begin!