The Mirror dinghy is a small, light, easy to sail, easy to transport, pram dinghy. Basically a stable family boat for all ages and abilities, ideal for just “messing about”, it is also raced widely and actively both in the UK and abroad. Its ease of handling makes it a very good single-hander. For racing the crew is two but when pottering three can be carried. The Mirror dinghy can be rowed or fitted with a small outboard motor – it can then accommodate four or five people. Ideal for training young people, it is an RYA-adopted Junior Class. Many of the UK’s top sailors started in a Mirror! A strict one-design, the Mirror dinghy became an International Class in 1989.
The Mirror dinghy was named after the Daily Mirror, a UK newspaper. From the start it was promoted as an affordable boat, and it has probably done more than any other design to make dinghy sailing in the UK a sport available to anyone. Although most popular in the UK, Mirrors are also used in other countries, notably Australia.
It was designed by Jack Holt and TV DIY expert Barry Bucknell in 1962, the Mirror dinghy employed a novel construction method where sheets of marine plywood are held together with copper stitching and fibreglass tape. Buoyancy is provided by integral chambers rather than by bags. It was originally designed to be built with simple tools and little experience, and this meant that the design was quite unsophisticated – for example, a simple daggerboard is used instead of a hinged centreboard. The result, however, was a robust and versatile boat that can be easily maintained, and repaired, and can also be got into the water very quickly from storage or transport. Its standing lug rig, with a gaff that effectively doubles the height of the mast, means that the spars can be packed inside the hull for easy storage or transportation.
All these features make the Mirror dinghy a first class choice for children or teenagers learning sailing for the first time. Because of the very large number that have been made (over 70000 to date !) , it is fairly easy to find other Mirror sailors to cruise or race with.
A Mirror dinghy will never be the fastest boat on the water, or the most elegant, but it holds a special place in the affections of a large number of dinghy sailors.