Join Date: Apr 2008
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Re: What to look for when buying a racing sailing dinghy
All the advise above is spot on. Additionally, if you hook up with a local one-design fleet, the fleet will work to get you up to speed quickly. Locally the one-design fleets have sailmakers or other experts provide free or very low-cost seminars and on-water training. Likely you will be able to find a crewing opportunity, where you'll develop skills quickly and have an opportunity to assess whether you'll like racing. In competitive classes the hot shots frequently have lightly used sails available for sale cheap.
Your $1,500 price cap may be challenging but I just saw a 17' racing dinghy available for free. The current owner raced her for years and just wants to pass the boat on to a new owner who'll race her.
Normally there is a very well established market for one-design dinghies. This will keep you from taking a beating if you wish to exit. You'll find good information on the class association website. For example, I bought my first one-design dinghy for $2,200 and sold it eleven years later for $1,950. I then upgraded to a $4,000 boat of the same design and sold it six years later for $4,200. The depreciation over 17 years was $50.
My kids and I enjoyed being part of a strong, supportive fleet and the opportunity to compete against national champions. It was a great value.