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Burghfield Sailing Club
Hangar Road
Berks RG7 4AP

01189 303 604

Fleets - Which Class?

Fleets - Which Class?


Which boat should I sail?

One of the confusing things about the UK dinghy sailing scene is the sheer number of different classes that are available for you to choose from: boats for one, two or three people; with one, two or three sails; sit-out or sit-in, trapeze or racks; spinnaker or not, weight equalised or not, big or small, fast or manoeuvrable etc, and thats before you consider the price (what you pay for it) and the value of the boats (what fun you get out of it, or the price you might sell it for in 2 or 3 years time)!

The Yachts and Yachting magazine publishes a "Racing Classes Review" each year comparing around 175 different classes - while we don't have quite that many racing at Burghfield, there are at least 25 different classes represented in the club racing results, and quite a few more that sail on a Saturday in the Admiral Club and don't race.

This summary of classes is to help you choose a boat to sail at Burghfield. It does NOT cover all the classes that are available, but instead concentrates on the ones that are particularly suitable for racing at Burghfield. Choosing a class that has a regular following at the club is very important:
  • You immediately "join the community" of that class.
  • You can get advice and guidance, help and support from existing class members.
  • There is a range of second-hand boats, bits and a good source of second-hand sails if yours need replacing!
  • When the time comes to upgrade or replace the boat, you should still find a good second-hand market.
We are sorry if we have missed out your favourite boat, but if you let us know why its good, we can always add it to the list!


RS 400

Two-person hiking boat with asymmetric spinnaker. Crew weight of 135-165Kg (22-26 stone, but they are raced regularly at Burghfield with anywhere between 20 and 30 stone).

Designed in 1993, with current numbers over 1300. Fibreglass. Available second hand from around £2,500, up to £9,500 for a fully equipped new one.

This is the top, high-performance, 2-person racing boat at Burghfield. Although, with the asymmetric kite, its also great fun for just sailing. The 400 is less "frisky" than the smaller RS200, but more of a handful in a strong breeze. Good racing is guaranteed at Burghfield for all people, from top 10 at the Nationals through to new beginners to sailing. On more open waters this is often a 2-man boat, but at Burghfield there are a large number of female crews.


Two-person boat with trapeze and symmetric spinnaker. Crew weight of 127-158Kg (20-25 stone).

Designed in 1962, with numbers close to 15000. Wooden or fibreglass. Available for any price from £500 to £10,000.

In general, the shifty winds that Burghfield gets during the summer, and the subsequent need to tack quickly and often to get the best out of the boat, means that a trapeze boat is not always suitable. However, a few years ago we used to get 12 or more Fireballs racing regularly at the club, and there are nearly always some Fireballs out on a Wednesday evening or Sunday.
The Fireball is a good boat to learn the principles of trapezing and symetric spinnaker work in.



One-person hiking boat, with wings to enable you to sit out further. Crew weight of 70-95Kg (11-15 stone).

Designed in 1996 and modified in 2001 to provide an easier to handle sail-plan, there are about 750 Blazes in the UK. Fibreglass. Available from around £2500 to £7500.

This is a great performance single-hander for Burghfield. There are a wide range of abilities racing at the club each week - from National Champion to new starters in the class. Burghfield is recognised as being the premier club for Blazes in the UK.


RS 200

Two person hiking boat with asymmetric spinnaker. Crew weight of 115-145Kg (18-23 stone).

Designed in 1995, with current numbers over 1200. Fibreglass. Available from around £2,500 to £7,500.

This is the premier 2-person boat in the UK at the present time, with over 130 boats at the Nationals. At Burghfield, good racing is provided within the Fast Handicap fleet, with a spread of ability from the top racers through to new beginners. The RS200 requires less weight and strength than the RS400, and so is ideally suited for female crews and the shifty winds at Burghfield - but due to the numbers of boats racing regularly in the UK, it might require more concentration and skill in order to be able to win!



Strict one-design for one person. Crew weight of 65-85Kg (10-13.5 stone).

Designed in 1971, and now raced through-out the UK and the rest of the world, with numbers close to 190,000. Fibreglass. Available from around £500 to £4000.

This is the number one single hander in the world, providing great racing at any level from complete beginner through to best-in-the-world Olympic standard. At Burghfield we regularly get fleets of over 20, with up to 75 different boats racing in any one series. The Laser is an ideal boat if you are on your own, as it is sailed at almost every club through-out the UK. Boats and spares are regularly available from our on-site chandlery.

Laser Radial

Continuing the Laser story, you can change the mast and sail to a smaller Radial rig, and race a Laser even if you are not heavy enough to control a full Laser.
Laser 2000

Laser 2000

Laser 2000

Two-person cruiser / racer with asymmetric spinnaker. Crew weight 120-180Kg (19-29 stone).

Designed in 1998, the 3000 boats in the UK are very popular with families, as it is a large enough boat to take many people out for a gentle sail, and to be used the next day as a racing boat. Fibreglass. Available from £4000 to around £8000. There are lots of Laser 2000s at Burghfield, where they are used for both family cruising with the Admiral Club and racing on a Sunday or Wednesday.



Two-person, non-trapeze, non-spinnaker boat. Crew weight of 120-140Kg (18 to 22 stone).

Designed in 1956 and raced through-out the UK. Second hand boats can be found anywhere from £100 to £7500 - although the boats below about £750 may need quite a bit of tender love and care to keep them going! Wood or fibreglass.

A good sail area and underwater shape makes the boat very popular at inland sailing clubs, and its a class that most people have sailed in at some stage in their sailing career. Great for getting started in sailing, right through to the Endeavour Trophy winner (Dinghy Champion of Champions), who regularly sails one. At Burghfield the racing standard varies from the Ladies World Champion, through to complete beginners who haven't been in a boat before.

RS Vareo

RS Vareo

The only single handed hiking boat with an asymetric spinnaker, designed in and winner of Sailboat of the Year in 2000. Crew weight of 70-105Kg (11-16 stone). The cockpit is large enough to take a crew for a cruise around the lake and with the kite for down-wind fun the fleet is well-known for its friendliness.

With over 400 boats in about 5 years, there is a very good core racing fleet being built up around the country. Available from around £2,000 to £5,000 new, built by LDC Racing Sailboats in fibreglass.



Single person hiking boat with a fully battened mainsail, designed in 1956. Crew weight of 65-100Kg (10-15 stone).

With about 4500 boats there has been a resurgence in their numbers over the last few years, both through-out the UK and recently at Burghfield. Available from around £750 to £7000, wood or fibreglass.


RS Feva

RS Feva

Two person youth class, although it is also sailed and raced by parents plus child or by an adult single handed.

Designed in 2002 with over 2000 now built. Crew weight 80-115Kg (12 to 18 stone). The asymmetric kite provides great training practise for many of the other modern classes, while the polypropelene construction makes it very tough.



Single person class, sailed mainly by junior and youth sailors but also a number of smaller adults. Crew weight of 32-65Kg (5 to 10 stone). A choice of 4.2 sq.m or full 5.3 sq.m sail caters for sailors at both ends of the weight range.

Over 46,000 boats have been built since it was designed in 1976. The Topper is a perfect boat for starting to sail in as it's robust and easy to rig. At Burghfield we have regular Topper training on a Sunday afternoon for all abilities, from those who just know the basics of sailing (RYA Level 2 or equivalent) right through to accomplished racers. The Topper races in the slow handicap fleet, where we often have half a dozen or so Toppers competing.

The Topper has enjoyed a lot of renewed interest in recent years as it now has a centre main and upgraded multi-purchase sail controls. If you haven't seen a race prepared Topper then take a look...

If you enjoy racing then the Topper has a superb open race training and event circuit with local and national traveller series, National Championships and a World Championship each year. For junior sailors the Topper is one of the RYA Pathway boats to the Olympics with full Zone and National RYA squads and is a direct feeder into the Laser class for single handers or to the various youth double handed dinghys.

Prices are from £300 to just over £2000 for a fully prepared race boat. The cheaper ones tend to be found unused in people's garages - but the bargains do get bought up very quickly!



Single hander for the under-16s only. Over 5800 have been built in the UK since being designed in 1947. This class is very popular at Burghfield, for 6 to 16 year-olds, with up to 60 sailors enjoying being on the water in our Oppie Club each week. If you have children aged 8 to 12 wanting to learn to sail, then the Oppie is a must at Burghfield - the sailors enjoy the freedom a single-hander gives them, while at the same time making friendships that can last a life-time.

Once the basics are mastered the Optimist fleet enjoys a full open race circuit in the UK with many European and National events. The Optimist is one of the RYA Pathway boats to the Olympics with full Zone and National squads. Sailors wishing to stay on the RYA Pathway will transition to the Topper or the Laser for single handed sailing (depending on their size and age) or into one of the various youth double handed dinghys.

Note - these boats do come with a health warning: Your ability to sail will suffer! From the moment your child steps into an Oppie, until they learn to drive a car themselves, you will become a transport driver, and not a sailor!

Prices are from £300 to just over £2000 for a fully prepared race boat. Well cared for cheaper boats get bought up very quickly.

The "Opti" and "Optibat" variations tend to be made of heavier and tougher materials, which are great as a starting boat, but might require replacing if/when your child gets good enough to move on to Open Meeting events.

Created on 01/05/2007 09:31 PM by Chris Jordan
Updated on 10/02/2018 06:06 PM by Douglas Calder
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