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The New SoloInteractive Magazine is Launched

by Will Loy 30 Oct 10:08 BST
National Solo Class magazines © NSCA

The National Solo Class has just released the first monthly interactive magazine, SoloInteractive, which is packed full of info, articles and photos. Using some very clever publishing software the magazine includes links to the latest videos and instant connection with suppliers and other advertisers.

The NSCA understand the importance of keeping Solo sailors across the UK, the Netherlands and Portugal up to date with all the news, gossip, tips and action from on the water and in the dinghy park which is why SoloInteractive will be released monthly.

The magazine has evolved very much like the dinghy itself, slowly and sometimes not at all but when changes are made, they only enhance the popularity of the Class.

Solo Lead Editor Will Loy adds;

I have been fortunate enough to have edited the Solo mag on occasion spanning 4 decades, from the mid 90s, typing my reports from letters that had been hand written on a very thin combustible material called paper. These would then be collated into a file, a hard cardboard leaf with very aggressive metal binders. Some contributors sent actual photographs, sorry to those who I never returned the originals, and these would be stuck with double sided tape to the relevant page. The file would then be sent to the printer for the magic to happen. The finished article was all monochrome (google it kids) and the photo quality...dubious but cutting edge for the Solo Class.

Just for clarity, and to add some historical context, the Solo Newsletter was pretty much created by Danny Butler in the early 70s, he was Class Chairman for donkey's years and was the fountain of knowledge, certainly one of the forefathers of the Class. I did visit Danny in the late 80's in my search for information on the early years, the slim A4 leaflets were basic but the information and contributor input was warming to my heart. My father had been an active racer back then and it evoked strong emotions to see his photo and read of his humble successes... mainly in 1974 when he won Chess S.C. Open Meeting. Incidently, only a few days ago I received a WhatsApp from a member who had come across a news cutting with photos of Danny Butler and my father, very nostalgic.

By the early 80s various editors including Richard Willetts and Mike Barnes took on the onerous task of extracting interesting articles for the membership to read, the more contentious issues were usually as a direct result of an AGM rule change! The mag had now swelled to 16+ pages of enthusiasm, the iconic hand drawn sketch of Solos rounding a leeward mark, I believe pencilled by David Marrs adorned the cover and served as a reminder that the Solo is a racing class.

Late 80s editions sported a photo taken at Mumbles S.C. in 1988 with hotshots, Jon Clarke, Andy Bond and myself racing after the course mark as it drifted off towards Ireland.

The mid 90's saw the evolution of the mag continue, while rule updates allowed composite Solos to clad the centreboard case and transom in wood laminate, thus producing a plastic hulled Solo to look like a wooden one. T terminals were finally allowed which Robin Webb had pushed for many years.

I took on the role of editor, adding an 'around the boat park' section focusing on the latest Solo related gizmos. The front and back cover showed a fine photo of Solos lining up for a gate start at Plymouth in 1992, Solo legend Ken Falcon centre stage while Dave Aston and myself held position as the gate boat approached.

Among the other editors during this period, Barry Green, who's father Ron had been a strong presence as Hon Treasurer and later Chief Measurer. It seems there is a direct link between editors and front cover photos as Barry featured prominently on at least one edition as Richard and myself had before. I guess that is the bonus of doing the job!

The noughties saw big leaps forward in printing and with laptops becoming available at a budget level, editing and collating of documents was getting easier and faster. An unfortunate by product, as far as an editor is concerned was that more material could be included and issues in A5 could be up to 80 pages deep!

Colour photos, focuses on sailors and suppliers was becoming the norm while member input was less so, possibly due to the introduction in 2000 of the off the shelf FRP Solo. The product required less fettling, sail maker tuning guides became the bible and contentious rule changes were less common. On the plus side, production of the Solo went from 30-40 per year to 100 per year. Editors in this era included Tom Davis, Chris Eslick and Roger Smith.

Into the teens and in 2012 we made the decision to increase page size to A4, this optimized the use of higher quality photos, combined with better graphics, the mag was really evolving into a more punchy experience.

In 2018 Guy Mayger took over from myself and under the instruction of the Committee put the magazine online, reducing costs which had been spiralling for a number of years. This departure from the normal printed edition seems to have had no downside. The savings are of course put back into the class in other ways, media being a large part of the budget and this medium plays an important part in providing a vibrant platform for extending the appeal of the Solo and it also benefits our sponsors and advertisers.

Guy is now focused on his new role of Vice President, supporting President Patrick Burns into the future and with Solo sail numbers through the 6000 barrier, the Solo remains incredibly strong.

The media team of Guy, Laurence Cavill Grant, Chris Brown and myself had discussed how we could step up in this age of instant information and after some exploration, chose a state of art publishing software, well utilised in the Finn and OK Classes for it's ease of use. The NSCA have also taken the decision to open the Solo magazine to the general public, since it's inception it has been for NSCA members only so it feels like we have broken one of the ten commandments.

SoloInteractive will be released monthly, packed full of all the useful, exciting, informative Solo related articles but now with interactive capability, enabling readers to click and watch, whether it be the latest video, a slide-show or an interview with a hotshot. Advertisers will be pleased to hear that a reader can click on an advertisement and be directed straight to the site.

This weekend is the Superspars End of Season Championship and the culmination of the North Sails Super Series and with 62 pre-entries, perfectly reflects the strength of the class.

The NSCA team are very excited to display the Solo to readers across the globe and we hope that our members enthusiasm for the Solo will increase interest in the sport of sailing and in Jack Holt's superb little single handed racing dinghy.

Thank you to all the editors, especially the one's I forgot to mention, your efforts over the last 60 years have been the keel that the Solo Class is built on and the fruition to this cutting edge publication is the result. We hope you all like it.

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