Please select your home edition
Marine Resources 2022 - LEADERBOARD

'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

Is there a need for speed?
That famous line by Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun It's that famous line by Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun while walking towards his F-14 Tomcat with Goose, "I feel the need, the need for speed". Sailing seems to have been following the mantra. Posted on 27 Nov
New Allen products at METSTRADE 2023
We spoke to Ben Harden about new 40mm High Load Blocks and AY Fittings We spoke to Ben Harden of Allen at METSTRADE 2023 to find out about the new products they have brought out. Posted on 21 Nov
It's not just about the racing
Had occasion to be invited to attend a luncheon Had occasion to be invited to attend a luncheon. It was with a crew that do not even race together anymore, and the boat has been sold many a year ago, as well. Posted on 19 Nov
The greatest event that almost never was
Why the SSL Gold Cup could well be the most important event in the history of sailing It's been a very hard week for personal reasons, but I am very glad I made it to Gran Canaria to cover the SSL Gold Cup. Posted on 15 Nov
Bold as brass
You might expect a cute little French name on a French boat Ordinarily, you might expect a cute little French name on a French boat. Dare we say it is somewhat de rigueur? (Argh. Argh. Argh.) Lenny is very masculine in nature, and these are not necessarily boat names, unless you happen to be an Aircraft Carrier. Posted on 7 Nov
Under the skin of the J/112E
What happens under the layer of gelcoat on a yacht is inherently invisible to the naked eye What happens under the layer of gelcoat on a yacht is inherently invisible to the naked eye. At a boat show what you see is the shine and the shape, the glitz, and the glamour. Posted on 4 Nov
It's all in the Name!
Racing Sailboats, an institution right at the very heart of the UK dinghy sailing scene It is a sad fact of life that the sailors who were drivers at the heart of the so called 'golden era' of dinghy racing are getting older, but their ability to get together for an afternoon of fun and laughter is as strong as ever. Posted on 3 Nov
A busy and successful Autumn for Hyde Sails
Winning the Flying Fifteen Nationals, the Squib Inlands and runner-up in the Osprey Nationals We chatted with Ben McGrane to find out about the busy schedule he and Hyde Sails had in September in a variety of classes, including the Flying Fifteen Nationals, the 70th Anniversary Osprey Nationals, and the Squib UK Inlands. Posted on 2 Nov
Not into the eye of the storm
Quite rightly, the Transat Jacques Vabre start didn't go as initially planned on Sunday Quite rightly, the Transat Jacques Vabre start didn't go as initially planned on Sunday. Storm Ciaran is set to be exceptional, and not in a good way, with winds of 80-90 knots during Wednesday night. Posted on 31 Oct
The Morning Sun
...when it's in your face really shows your age Taking the positive feedback that was received as the main metric, it seems a pretty fair assessment that the recent article on the state of the domestic dinghy scene struck something of a chord with a number of classes and individuals. Posted on 29 Oct