Please select your home edition
Crewsaver 2021 Safetyline LEADERBOARD
Product Feature
Gul Code Zero 4mm Hybrid Drysuit
Gul Code Zero 4mm Hybrid Drysuit

'Simply the Best' - the history of the 5o5 class by Dougal Henshall

by Mark Jardine 26 Feb 20:24 GMT 26 February 2023
'Simply the Best' - the history of the 505 class by Dougal Henshall © Mark Jardine

For many years now the story of one of the sport's most iconic dinghies, the 5o5, has been shrouded in something of a mystery. Where did that wonderful reverse flared hull shape come from, because back at the start of the 1950s there was nothing else like it.

There was talk that it was another designer, Austin Farrar, who was a long-term close friend of John Westell, who went on to produce the flared International 14 Thunderbolt that many saw as the precursor to the 5o5. But who had the idea first, where did the idea come from, and how - and why did, a plan to build such a revolutionary hull shape become a iconic reality that would take the dinghy scene by storm.

After all, these were the years when performance dinghy sailing was just starting to gain a foothold as an almost distinct genre apart from the mainstream side of the sport, so there was little in the way of a roadmap for the game changing designers, led by Holt, Proctor and Westell to draw on for inspiration. Moreover, none of them thought that they were designing boats that would become enduring icons that would still be with us 70 years later, so until now the records of what actually happened have been sketchy. But in what eventually became an 8-year project (badly delayed by the pandemic) author Dougal Henshall, who has previously written the definitive works on the International Contender and Merlin Rocket, has sought out the sailors who were there and could answer the questions that until now have been matters of conjecture. Having laid the foundation to the 5o5 story by documenting those early years, the book then advances forward in time, picking up on the many innovations that first found their place in the FiveO fleet. The narrative would not be complete without the roll-call of incredible topflight sailors who raced the boats, despite only an elite select few managing to add their names to some of the most sought-after prizes in the sport, the 5o5 World Championship.

It is only right that such a big story should, in the end, be told in a big book, one that weighs in at more than 2kg and contains not that far short of a quarter of a million words, spread across 400 plus pages, along with both black & white and full colour prints (when colour sailing pictures became available). The glossy, hard-back book has been arranged to read like a story that will immerse the reader into not only the history of one of our greatest boats, but of the social and technological changes in dinghy sailing over the last 70 years.

Order you copy via Simply The Best - Troubador Book Publishing or email

Related Articles

Risk and reward
Much more than a port tack flyer or banging a corner I've yet to meet a keen sailor who hasn't at some point banged a corner, usually after a poor start, and come out top at the windward mark. Nine times out of ten it won't work, but that one time where it does certainly brings out the smiles. Posted on 20 Mar
Edward Woodward
He played Lieutenant (Henry Harbord) Harry ‘The Breaker' Morant in the film. He played Lieutenant (Henry Harbord) Harry ‘The Breaker' Morant in the Bruce Beresford film depiction of the famed bush poet's execution during the Second Boer War. Woodward was utterly superb at it, too. Posted on 12 Mar
When did you discover Henri-Lloyd?
For me it was as a kid in 1982 at the London Boat Show 60 years, six decades, three score. However you say it, it's a long time, especially when so much has changed in the intervening years since 1963. Throughout that time there has been a single watchword summing up Henri-Lloyd: Innovation. Posted on 10 Mar
Simply the Best: 5o5 celebration at Hayling Island
The last great 'untold' narrative of dinghy development It is one of those sadder facts for our long established 'senior' classes, that when they were first developed, no one could have envisaged that they would still be at the forefront of our sport a lifetime later. Posted on 7 Mar
It may not be the biggest...
It's no secret that I'm a massive fan of the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show It's no secret that I'm a massive fan of the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show, held in the UK on the final weekend of February. Posted on 6 Mar
What was intriguing at the RYA Dinghy Show 2023?
Remote operated self-bailers set one man's heart a flutter Determined not to let moving house (the day before) put him off,'s website developer, Magnus Smith, attended his favourite boat show during the last weekend in February. Posted on 6 Mar
The Wise Man of the West
Another of our first generation 'greats' has left us - Alec Stone Another of our first generation 'greats' has left us. The name of Alec Stone is hardly an oft featured favourite, yet he should not be forgotten as he had become one of the great links to an era of sailing and boatbuilding that is now long past. Posted on 5 Mar
Not a bag of liquorice
There was a standout notion. That would be all sorts, hence the title. However, after one of the many conversations I have with our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine there was a standout notion. That would be all sorts, hence the title. Posted on 27 Feb
Interview with Europe sailor Hannah Carruthers
At the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2023 Mark Jardine, Managing Editor of and, spoke to 2021 Cadet class National Champion Hannah Carruthers about what attracted her to the Europe dinghy and why she's sailing one in 2023. Posted on 26 Feb
Nebuchadnezzar wins Concours d'Elegance
Matrix insprired Shearwater announced as boat of the RYA Dinghy and Watersports Show For the judging of the Concours d'Elegance, Mark Jardine, Editor of, was joined this year by British Sailing Team ILCA 7 sailor Micky Beckett. Posted on 25 Feb