SAILING A MIRROR
The Mirror has a rich history. It was first introduced in 1963 as an affordable and enjoyable dinghy that could be used by all the family. Over the years, the Mirror has become one of the top training boats for young sailors around the country. It is suitable for all ages; sailors as young as 7 and as old as 70 have competed in events around Ireland and the world, but most of the top sailors fall into the young adult age group. The recommended combined weight of crew and helm is around 15 stone, but of course this is flexible and a heavier or lighter weight can have its advantages in different weather conditions. Mirrors are hardy boats, and can be sailed in anything up to a Force 5.
As a double-hander, it is ideal for Optimist sailors to learn the importance of teamwork and communication. Mirror sailing is all about tactics and speed, so learning to divide the workload between helm and crew can be a valuable and effective skill. Many Optimist sailors have teamed up in the past to take on the challenge of a Mirror event, and have found the experience both demanding and exhilarating as they are forced to work together with their former opponents.
The three adjustable sails, the Main sail, Jib and Spinnaker, allow young sailors to gain a better understanding of the driving power of the wind, and make Mirror sailing a fast, intense and exciting experience. Downwind sailing becomes a completely different experience with the use of a Spinnaker; the skill and teamwork between helm and crew can decide the entire outcome of a race.
HOW TO GET STARTED
The best way to get started sailing a Mirror is to contact the nearest club with an active fleet, and talk to the Mirror Fleet Captain. Some clubs will have a number of boats that can be used by any member, and if not, the Fleet Captain will be happy to set you up with a borrowed boat.
There are a few Mirrors in most clubs, but the biggest fleets are in the following:-
|Club Name||CLub Location||Contact Information|
|Sligo Yacht Club||Rosses Point, Co. Sligo||sligoyachtclub.org|
|Skerries Sailing Club||Skerries, Co Dublin||skerriessailingclub.com|
|Mullingar Sailing Club||Lough Owel, Co Westmeath||msail.net|
|Lough Derg Yacht Club||Dromineer, Co Tipperary||ldyc.ie|
|Lough Ree Yacht Club||Athlone, Co Westmeath||lryc.ie|
|Royal North Yacht Club||Hollywood, Co Down||rniyc.org|
If there is no active fleet near you then the fleet development officer would love to help in getting a fleet going in your club. Send an email to [email protected] with details.
GETTING A BOAT
As the Mirror is a well established fleet, there are many second hand boats on the market for sale. Mirror dinghies are either wooden or fibreglass, but the introduction of the one- piece mast and the new MK3 Winder design have revolutionised the fleet. Expect to pay a minimum of €1,500 for a reasonable quality second hand wooden boat to about €6,000 (depending on the spec) for a new Winder built MK3 design. The Irish Mirror Class Association has a list of boats for sale on its website and you can also try others websites such as Apollo Duck. An enquiry to one of the clubhouses listed above may also yield good results as there are often good quality boats for sale as older Mirror sailors graduate to other fleets.
The Irish Mirror Class Association has useful advice for anyone looking for a second hand boat at:-http://imcai.com/content.asp?id=1804
The Association owns two of the new Winder design Mirrors which are used as ‘demonstration’ boats and are available to clubs on loan. They are very much in demand. To enquire about these, contact Dara White at [email protected].
TRAINING AND COMPETING
The Mirror racing circuit is long established and boasts one of the largest fleets in the country, with upwards of 40 boats regularly taking part. There is no upper or lower age limit for competitors although National and International events award prizes in various age categories e.g. Under 16 years, Under 19 years, as well as a Masters Trophy for Helms over 20 years. The ‘Best Lady Helm’ trophy also attracts strong competition among the female sailors.
Training events with top national and international coaches take place during the racing season and help sailors fine-tune their racing skills while gaining some excellent experience. Each year, 4 regional events – the Westerns, Easterns, Southerns and Northerns – are held around the country as well as the National Championships. International events, such as the European and World championships, take place every second year; recent events have taken place in Sweden, South Africa and Pwllheli in Wales. Irish sailors have been well represented at these events throughout the years, with consistent top 5 rankings. The Mirror circuit is an excellent way to meet other young sailors, and the events are always extremely competitive and action-packed, both on and off the water. In August 2010, the European Championships will be held in Sligo Yacht Club and should be an exciting and fun event with a high standard of racing assured. The next Mirror Worlds take place in Australia in January 2011.
The Mirror is a fun, competitive and popular fleet for Oppie sailors to get involved with to continue sailing. For more information on Mirror sailing and getting started in the fleet, visit the Irish Mirror Class website at www.imcai.com