Part of the appeal of South Staffs is due to the strict restricted classes policy operated by the club. Whilst this may be seen by some people to restrict the potential membership, the aim is to provide members with close racing against people in similar boats.
Another advantage is that there is always someone in the boat park to provide assistance with boat setup and tuning.
Although there is a healthy inter fleet rivalry in the club, all members share the belief that it is important that people are sailing, no matter what they sail.
The five classes available to adult members are:
Larks are light, fast racing boats with mainsail, jib and spinnaker. The Lark is one of the fastest symmetrical hiking dinghies and extremely responsive, but can be sailed equally well by males and females of all ages.
The design has had two major upgrades since it was first developed by Mike Jackson in 1966. The class was introduced to the club in 1972.
The latest ‘Mk. III’ Rondar Lark introduced in 2001, is very stiff and virtually dry when righted after a capsize. Spinnaker handling is made easy as the boats have an opening in the foredeck called a ‘spinnaker chute’ from which the spinnaker is launched and subsequently recovered. Construction is low-maintenance FRP/GRP although a few older boats have wooden decks.
South Staffs is one of the oldest Lark clubs and the boat still retains fleet status after over 30 years.
Many of the current top national crews have been brought up and trained by the experienced sailors at South Staffs – the club had 3 crews in the top 7 at the 2002 nationals at Looe!!
Sail area: 9.75m2
Optimum weight of helm and crew: 125-146kg (19 to 23 stones)
The OK is a specialist racing singlehander well suited for the heavier helm. Designed by Knud Olsen in 1957 the boat is easily recognised by its flexible topmast and low boom that catches every breath of wind passing over the decks. It is available in all forms of materials – wood, GRP/FRP and composite construction.
•Sail area: 9.45m2
•Optimum weight of helm: 80-100kg
As its name implies, the GP14 is a General Purpose 14ft (4.27m) sailing dinghy. It has 3 sails: a mainsail, either a large, overlapping foresail (called a ‘Genoa’) or a smaller jib and a traditional symmetrical spinnaker set on a spinnaker pole. It offers great racing but is also well suited for cruising under sail or with a small outboard motor clamped to the stern. Nominally for two people, it can carry three in comfort and with just the mainsail set it can also be sailed single-handed. It is therefore difficult to find a more versatile family boat.
Originally designed by Jack Holt in 1949 the class has its origins in Wales (its sail emblem is the legendary Bell of Aberdovey). Over the years the class association has adapted to the times. Construction materials have moved from the original wood and marine ply, through traditional glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) to the latest foam reinforced plastic (FRP) designs which offer superb stiffness and durability. It is also possible to have wooden decks on a plastic hull to achieve the beauty of a wooden boat with the low-maintenance offered by fibreglass. In recent years a Series II design has emerged with a double bottom that comes upright almost empty after a capsize.
•Sail area (main and genoa): 12.85m2
•Optimum weight of helm and crew: 120-150kg
Another singlehander, the Solo differs from the OK as it has a deeper, more traditional hull-form, a permanently stayed mast and a powerful, fully battened mainsail. Another design from the drawing-board of Jack Holt, the Solo first appeared in 1956. Very popular with the mature sailor, the design is extremely comfortable with ergonomically designed side-decks for ease of sitting-out. There is also plenty of space for the occasional passenger when not racing. It is available in all forms of materials – wood, GRP/FRP and composite construction.
•Sail area: 8.36m2
•Optimum weight of helm: 77kg
The Firefly was designed in 1939 by Uffa Fox, but due to the war no boats were built until 1946. The Firefly is regarded by many as the original one design dinghy. For the Olympics in 1948, the Firefly was selected as the Single Handed Class.
There have been many modifications to the deck and internal layout of the class, the most significant being when Rondar took over production and revelotionised the class giving the ability to bring a capsised boat back up virtually dry. Following on the redesign by Rondar, the Class Association recently passed the Mark IV wooden conversion, giving the old wooden boats the same characteristics of the modern Plastic boats.
The Firefly is a responsive, non spinnaker boat which can be sailed by people of all ages.
- Length: 3.66 m
- Beam: 1.42m
- Weight: 100kg
- Sail area (main and jib): 8.36m2
- Optimum weight of helm and crew: 108-153kg
- PN: 1170