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crazytopper

very few and confused ideas: advices on a small dinghy

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hi, i'm new to the forum, i'm writing from northen italy.

i've read some posts and found many informations, so i think to have a good idea of the actual market for small sailing dinghys. but i still have many doubts so i'll try to illustrate the situation.

my experience: quite low, i took lessons with the optimist when i was a child but didn't learn much apart capsizing it. then i used an alpa tris (80kg bathub with the sail of a sunfish) and found it terrible. i later used a proper sunfish and i finally understood that sailing could be fun. then i used a laser. but all of this was at sea during summer holydays so a few days each year. once tested a small hobiecat.

actual situation: i have a place where i can park a small dinghy so i can sail on a more regular basis. the place is on a lake shore where there isn't much wind so i often have to take the kayak instead. the spot has little surveilance and is very near to the water so when the lake raises all the boats there are in the water. i now have a 45 y/o topper with the smaller sail.

issues: there isn't enough wind for my topper, everytime i must paddle to find some breeze and then paddle back. i must say that i'm the only idiot with a dinghy  there, i need a 20 min drive to reach a location more exposed to the winds. sometimes i prepare it and when i'm ready to launch the wind dies!

what can be done: obviously i'm looking for a parking place in a better location, but they are scarce and expensive. also probably the mast should be replaced with a new one because it doesn't flex as modern ones do, and has some play. also the hull feels "tired", not as stiff as another example i tested. and takes up water even if i tried to reseal it. so:

option1= new hull and mast and bigger sail (5 sqm).

option2 = find a boat with much better low wind performances but must be less than 1,4m wide and not very expensive and durable material (does it exists?)

option3= (if i find somewhere to leave the boat) something a bit faster that can take 3 pple

option4= inflatable catamaran that can be transported

option5= a sunfish that is easier and faster to rig when there is wind, (but don't think it's faster than the topper).

i like the topper, the combination performance/price/weight, also the material, mine is parked on steel tubes and rubber matt with a cheap plastic cover on it. the place is often hit by storms everytime i find the boat half submerged but with just a few scratches. so probably option1 new topper would be the most logical.

option2 & 3 ? i think the rs aero should be very interesting but seems a bit too expensive to leave it on the beach, the RSTera pro is small but i'm light. from topper the topaz race seems interesting but i do wonder if the material used is as strong as propylene is. from laser i have seen the pico but probably not faster than the topper and i'm not a fan of rotomolded boats. for prices above 5-6.000€ probably i would try an hobie 16. other boats?

option4 i have never seen in person and ahve no idea if they work.

here a picture of my parking spot after a storm. lost another bung of the topper but no more damages

 

topper anarchy.jpg

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You must REALLY enjoy sailing to put up with all the hassle you have listed. Is it worth it to you? Sounds like too many negatives. Maybe another hobby?

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good question

infact i keep a kayak near the topper and that's what i use most of the time. and also have an inflatable kayak that allows me to paddle different locations more easily. and there are no waves here (apart when some storm hits) so everything is more boring.

but i like sailing, and i don't fish so don't need a bigger boat (it would be damaged every year). and here there aren't rentals for sailing dinghy! they only have some hopeless keelboats with a pathetic sail,  must use the engine all the time.

this spot is like 4' walk from my parent's house.

obviously leaving a fast and expensive dinghy on the shore would be a waste. probably fitting a new sail and mast is the most cost effective solution but a new hull is quite expensive. i really like the sunfish but i suspect that in low winds it would be slower than the topper even if the sail is much bigger.

another option that i find interesting is buying a classic canoe with a sailing kit. it would be great to paddle and bring friends around, and maybe not terrible under the sail in the rare occasions of some good winds.

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I have a 38 year old topper. It does OK in light breeze. I'd say try to find where the water is coming in and seal her up. there are only a few trouble spots. Self bailer, plate over centerboard slot in the bottom, and the gudgeon screw holes. They are a pretty durable boat and seem to fit the bill. I thing the biggest issue is getting it to perform in light air, which I think can be done. There is tons of sail adjustment in the rig. As you can see in the picture it was pretty flat that day, yet I was out having a decent sail. Not exciting but moving along.

IMG_5642.JPG

IMG_5629.JPG

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Perhaps more sail area might help your sailing experience. I know in the uk topper are know doing a larger sail for it to try and get more adults sailing them again . 

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Toppers are heavily used in the UK as a transition boat between the Optimist and the Laser. They work for weights from about 40/45 Kg up to 55 or so, after which sailors are encouraged to move up to the 4.7 or Radial, depending on anticipated growth and fitness (Note that the Laser 4.7 rig is quite noticeably more powerful than the Topper 5.3, despite being nominally smaller.). When you say "the smaller sail", do you mean the 4.2? If so, then getting a 5.3 would definitely improve things. There's an oversized sail being trialled but from what I've heard it's not a great option (makes some of the flexing problems worse, extra cost, "twitchy")... better to change boats, really.

 For racing they are rigged with centre mainsheets and high purchase controls (that quickly stretch the sails out of shape but make adjustment much easier, especially for smaller sailors). There are big fleets and close racing with lots of very high quality coaching available.

 If you are over 65Kg the boat will tend to stick when it's light and bend when it's windy... maybe newer designs like the Topaz/Taz etc are less prone to this??

  I think in your situation, I would buy a cheap Laser, probably a Radial, and good padded covers to protect it from the storms and prying eyes.  Needs to be cheap enough not to worry too much about it getting scratched... ideally with the XD controls that make it a bit of a faff to rig but much easier to adjust in changeable winds. It'll be much more fun than the Topper, especially in light winds, and they are available at whatever price-point you need to choose...  (If you are too light for the Radial (under 64Kg) then the 4.7 is the obvious alternative but the newer ILCA-5 carbon rig is likely to be a better option if it's ever available in your area at an affordable price!!).

Cheers,

              W.

 

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thank for replies, didn't think to the screws as waterways.

anyway the sail must be the main problem here, not only is it small (not measured) but aslo very old. the mast, i think, won't make a huge difference in low wind conditions so i will use it for the moment. when the wind rises the boat seems to work reasonably well even if slower than expected. she "feels" old but i think it's mostly an impession given by the fact that the blocks of styrene inside the hull should be replaced.

yesterday i weighted myself after many years and i'm more than 65 now! anyway laser is a very popular dinghy here but ones in good shape are quite expensive. i "learned" to sail on it, but it's a bit bigger and eavier than what i'm looking for. rigging time is VERY important because i can't leave the boat ready on the shore. sometimes the wind dies after i rigged, or there is a small breeze and i can't decide to rig the boats so i take the kayak!

this is also why i'm considering the sunfish... but i'm quite sure that sailing it without winds and waves would be pathetic.

maybe would like to try something different. ie. europe? sometimes i see one for sale and it looks smaller than the laser.

the laser, hobie 16 or other more expensive stuff would be better only after i find a proper place ro use them.

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Beater laser with a Radial rig is my vote. The ones in good shape will be expensive but you don't need those. Get a beaten up, scratched one.

Europe dinghy is lovely, but fairly fragile.

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You could put a sail on the Kayak.  Sail when the wind is good, paddle when it isn't. 

There are some pretty decent conversion kits ;

https://www.kayaksailor.com/

http://www.baloghsaildesigns.com/

My situation is a bit like yours, I just have a muddy boat launch on a river to launch at close to home, got into kayak sailing a few years back.  It's great for car topping and crumby launches.  I still have 3 sailboats all on trailers for longer trips, but for quick and easy- my sailing kayak is my go to.

 

 

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