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B14s at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show: The future is bright

by Crispin Taylor 28 Feb 2023 10:34 GMT 25-26 February 2023
B14 Stand at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show 2023 © Crispin Taylor

The B14 stand was in fine form at the 2023 RYA Dinghy Show. Julian Bethwaite, the boat's designer, dropped in and explained the thinking behind the boat way back in the mid 80's, light, stiff, high power to weight and true apparent wind sailing.

Those attributes were present from the get-go and the boats have steadily developed to become the hiking skiff of choice that they are now. Two beautifully presented B14's recently built by Seavolution complimented the stand that had very positive feedback from visitors and other class associations.

These epoxy B14's are seriously down to weight and will comfortably reach the current class minimum weight of 91kgs. 60+ people stopped to ask about the boat, class and sailing venues ranging from young sailors in their teens to older folks who thought that sailing a B14 might not be for them, but loved the look of the boats and the pictures on the stand. The B14 is of course a quick and high power boat, but being a hiking platform and very light, it's not out of reach for lets say 'mature sailors' with many of the current helms and crew in the top 10 in the UK fleet being in their (hic) late 50's or in my case, sailing with a combined age of 124! It's not always the youngsters who have all the fun! We also have a number of lady helms and crews in the class so it really is a performance dinghy for everyone. The boat sails well in handicap races achieving excellent results at club level and pursuit races, as demonstrated at the 2023 Starcross Steamer where a very capably sailed B just missed first place.

They are also great at sea and cope well with waves and chop with no risk of being washed off the wire:-)

The reliability of the class has improved significantly in the last decade with the adoption of carbon rig, carbon racks that are super strong and light, a recent carbon-glass pole that is not only stronger than before but is also 25% stiffer than the previous one and reinforced sleeved boom that together have addressed previous potential weak areas.

The class is super friendly and the support to newcomers amongst the best you'll get in any dinghy fleet. The current for sale list includes 3 Ovington B14's that are still super competitive, have excellent kit/sails and in the right hands could be a podium boat at Garda in July. There are also a number of older Rondar B's at less money that represent great value, are still competitive, and are a good way into the class.

Events get under way for 2023 with a skiff event at Rutland, 4/5th March followed by the TT event at Stokes Bay 29/30 April, the National Champs at WPNSA 13/14th May, Isle of Sheppey SC TT, 17/18th June, European and World Championships, Lake Garda, 13/21st July, Weston SC TT event in August (Date to be confirmed), Whitstable YC TT 30th Sept/1st Oct and the Final Fling (B14 TT) at Mayflower YC in Plymouth 14/15th October.

A number of people enquired about 'try a B' session; we are very happy to support anyone wanting to get into the class so please put a post on our facebook group and we will get something sorted out and/or come along to a TT event where you can meet current sailers and try a B for yourself... We also became aware over this weekend that some people just hadn't heard about the B14 and were really interested in it so we'll be doing a mail shot to UK clubs with a short bio and video, hopefully reaching a few more people who might want to get into the best bang for buck skiff in the world.

Looking forward to hopefully seeing some new faces on the circuit in 2023, on and off the course, and even more on Lake Garda in July.

World titles Tasmania 2018

Golden oldie video from the mid 90's

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