Minisail (dinghy)

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Designer Ian Proctor
Year 1959
Crew 1 + 1
Type Scow
Construction Variants: GRP, plywood, mixed
LOA 3.96m
Beam 1.11m
Rig type Unstayed Bermuda
Total sail area 55.08 sq.ft
RYA PN 1244

The Minisail is a 13 foot single-handed dinghy[1] which was designed by Ian Proctor in 1959 and became popular in the 1960s.[2] It was the predecessor to the Topper and was the first British production boat to popularise the idea of the "sailing surfboard". As the Topper gained popularity in the 1980s, the Minisail disappeared from the scene. However, on 28th August 2011, a group of enthusiasts restarted the Minisail Class Association,[3][4] which now has a small but committed following mainly in north-west Europe.


The Minisail was inspired by the American Sailfish dinghy which Thorpe had viewed while in the US,[5][6] and was the first British attempt to create, in effect, a sailing surfboard. The initial prototype was built by Chippendales Boatyard in Emsworth, near the home of the designer Ian Proctor, and it was noted for its rapid acceleration.[7] Even by modern standards, the Minisail is quick onto the plane in marginal conditions.

It was designed for two people to sail, as can be seen in the early advertising, although two large adults would find it a challenge. It is better considered as a "1 plus 1" - suitable for an adult and child. It has always been raced as a single-hander.

The boat found success when the Richmond Marine Company, who were manufacturing the boats at the time, convinced the Brighton Sailing Club to introduce it as a racing class, leading to increased coverage and its adoption as a racing dinghy in other sailing clubs.[8]


The Minisail has always been a semi-development class, and a number of variants appeared quite quickly in the early years. There are two basic hull shapes; one has a shallow V-shape at the bows, whilst the other is slightly shorter and is flat-bottomed, making it easier to construct at home in plywood. Many hulls were manufactured in GRP.[9] The original Minisails had no cockpit, just a shallow depression. Later, the "Monaco" appeared which had a centre cockpit; later still, the MiniSprint appeared which had a self-draining cockpit extending to the stern and a pivoting centreplate in place of the earlier dagger board.

In spite of all the variants, there was competitive racing between the various designs; no one design dominated in the National Championships.


  1. ^ "MINISAIL sailboat specifications and details on".
  2. ^ "Minisail 1959-75". Minisail Class Association.
  3. ^ "Minisails at the CVRDA Nationals at Whitefriars Sailing Club". Yachts and Yachting Online.
  4. ^ Whelan, Rupert. (January 16, 2012). "Minisail Class Association re-forms", Marine Business World. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  5. ^ Clarke, Philip. (1973). Small businesses in Britain; how they survive and succeed, Barnes & Noble. p88.
  6. ^ Nash, Peter. (March 6, 2018). "Ian Proctor : The man who designed racehorses", Marine Industry News. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  7. ^ "MINISAIL 1959-75", David Thorpe, MiniSail Year Book, 1976
  8. ^ Winkler, John. (2014). Marketing for the Developing Company, Routledge. ISBN 9781317646068.
  9. ^ "Mini Boats", (January 1970), Motorboating. p222.