The hunt is always on for good training boats and fun daysailers. We should draw a very distinct line here between dinghies that are designed to plane and nonplaning dinghies. Planing performance, while exhilarating and often wet, can take a backseat to comfort and forgiving sailing characteristics.

The Bauer 12.

The Bauer 12.

This little 12-footer is a classically styled daysailer that is not intended to plane; it is designed to cradle its crew in style and safety.

I like this design. It has a graceful, sweeping sheerline with a shapely bow and entry. The boat is big and deep enough so that the crew sits in the boat rather than on it. A fully-rigged 12 weighs 330 pounds and the weight of two fully-rigged 15-foot Tasar dinghies. There are no hiking aids on this boat, so it must be stiff.

There are two rigs available: a Marconi sloop or a gunter-rigged sloop. Who can resist the sliding gunter rig? It's easy to see how the gunter evolved from a straight gaff rig. The gunter has some distinct advantages. It's more weatherly than the gaff rig since the gaff assumes an almost vertical position, and the mainsail has a better leading edge. You can also get a taller rig with two shorter spars and that makes stowing the rig easier. Unfortunately, like the gaff rig, the gunter does fall off and induce considerable twist to the mainsail, which makes the dinghy a better reacher than a pointer.

I prefer the gunter over the more efficient Marconi because it's saltier looking. I don't like the way the tack of the jib is elevated off the stem. I know it improves visibility but it looks kind of silly, with the tack of the jib a good 12 inches above the stem. I would rather see a window in the foot of the jib and the tack down at the stem. The standard Marconi rig has a mainsail with five full-length battens and plenty of roach.

Coming back to our beach cabin from a shopping trip, my wife and I noticed our sailing dinghy was gone. Apparently my 15-year-old son and his friend had gone for a sail. No problem. I scoured the horizon for the orange mainsail, but I couldn't see it. Momentary panic set in, and I began to walk down the beach toward the point to see if they were farther south. Rounding the point, I spotted the bright orange sail about two miles to leeward and well offshore. Immediately the bright international orange sail made a lot of sense. It made me feel good to see him so far out, yet at the same time I realized that if they capsized they would be on their own.

It's a scary world for teenagers today. It's even scarier for their parents. I feel very strongly that teaching the skills of dinghy sailing to kids helps develop self-reliance, builds self-confidence and gives the opportunity to exercise command skills. When the boys arrived back at the cabin, I tried to seem nonchalant, "Have a nice sail?"

I think the Bauer 12 is the type of dinghy that would lend itself well to this application. This little boat is 12 feet of potential adventure for kids of any age. A stiff breeze, a good hat, a couple cans of soda, a loaf of French bread and some salami, and you are ready.

Shapely daysailer ideal for teaching dinghy sailing.
Draftboard down 2'8", board up 7"
Weight285 lbs. (hull), 330 lbs. (fully rigged)
Sail Area104 sq. ft. (gunter rig), 135 sq. ft. (Marconi)
D/L122.5 (fully rigged)

Bauteck Marine Corporation
2060 Dobbs Road
St. Augustine FL 32086
Phone: (904) 824-8826
Fax: (904) 824-8574

Find a dealer for this boat

SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.