About the boats

Supernova Dinghy

The Supernova grew out of a collaboration between the then Lightning 368 Class Chairman, Frank Puranik, and Mark Giles the Lightning designer and builder. The desire was for a larger and faster single handed racing dinghy that would, like the Lightning before it, attract sailors into a new class offering a distinct combination of features not easily found in other existing designs. What evolved was a boat of similar and slightly larger vital statistics than an International Laser but with a completely different approach to the rig. A stayed, foredeck mounted, bendy mast supports an eight square metre fully battened mylar sail loose footed on a stiff alloy boom with track attachments for mainsheet blocks, kicker and clew outhaul. This results in a powerful rig that can be controlled by three lines, kicker, clew outhaul and cunningham, easily adjusted while sailing so that the rig can be altered to suit a wide range of crew weight (60 - 90 Kg) and depowered as wind strengths increase. The hull volume and shape contributes a stable platform for the rig and with little tendency to bury the bow or to gripe to windward, when allowed to heel, the overall sailing characteristics are safe and predictable. The initial design was launched in 1996 and favourably reviewed in the yachting press.

The market for sailing dinghies is crowded and there are a surprising number of single handed dinghies to choose from. Some older designs have resurged in recent years, updating class rules and/or allowing newer materials and a number of new designs have also appeared and carved out a market share. Some of the latter have introduced crew weight equalisation systems which, perhaps, evens up the racing but not without typically adding complication and cost to the boat. The Supernova does seem to have emerged into this arena with success. Its price and performance combination sets it in the middle ground of being one of the fastest monohull designs without resorting to wings or a trapeze while its fundamental simplicity keeps the cost within bounds. Growth in numbers has been steady with 28 new boats registered in 1999 and the total sailing now in excess of 300. There is an active open meeting programme in the United Kingdom and a small number of boats are sailing and racing in the Netherlands. What perhaps sets the Supernova apart from other designs, for the present at least, is the absence of boats on the second hand market. Supernova owners are, if nothing else, enthusiastic about their choice of boat.

While the Supernova is fundamentally easy to sail it is a demanding boat to sail well. A strict one design asfar as hull, sail plan and foils are concerned there is some freedom to adjust fittings and cordage. Even with only three control lines there are many permutations to try and the adjustments possible to rig tension and mast and spreader positions add to the possible variations. The boom is relatively high and the self draining cockpit is roomy. With a standard arrangement of the centre main sheet and the side deck control lines all adjustments come easily to hand. The dagger board too can be easily adjusted in vertical position while sailing and for launching or recovery does not foul the boom when no longer protruding through the bottom of the boat. The rudder blade is of pivoting design with both up and down hauls cleated on the tiller. While the sail powers up rapidly and unlike a soft sail does not happily feather into the wind, the transition onto the plane is progressive and very smooth. Fore and aft crew weight position is not particularly critical. Capsizing presents few difficulties. The sealed mast tends to limit any tendency to turn turtle and little weight is needed to right the boat. From the water it is easy to reach the toe strap or centre rope bridle to permit a quick reentry. The cockpit is free of water after capsize recovery. The hull volume is sufficent to support the crew plus a passenger for non-racing use while the cockpit has space for paddle and anchor attachment if desired. There is even a small sail available for the lighter or less adventurous crew! The inspection hatch can be fitted with a sock to hold small articles. The boat is dry sailed and usually left on a launching trolley with the mast up with either a boom up or flat cover with the latter being more popular. The Supernova is light enough to carry on most medium or large car roof racks but is more usually towed on a typical combi trailer.

So it's a great boat! Please explore our web site, feel free to contact us, the class association, or the builder for more information (you will find feedback forms for the purpose at the relevant points on the web site). However this introduction and the pictures and words on this site only tell some of the story. To appreciate the Supernova and the smile one can bring to your face -- you have to sail one!