Thanks to Sue Pelling, a specialist journalist who has written this article for the Association.
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The singlehanded Supernova dinghy is currently enjoying a flourish of interest as the Class celebrates its 20th anniversary year. With entry to the 2016 National championship in Llandudno (1-3 July) already at its 120-boat safety limit, and with 30+ boats regularly racing on the open meeting circuit, the Supernova is one of fastest growing UK dinghy classes in recent years.
In its effort to maintain what has always been a popular singlehander since its launch in 1996, the Association has successfully reversed the trend of what's happening in many other dinghy classes where attendance is static or, in some cases, on the decrease.
A steady increase of 56 entries at the 2013 Nationals, 61 in 2014, 67 in 2015, and 120 in 2016, indicates the Supernova Association has got it 'right'. By listening to what its sailors want the Association has come up with a successful formula that looks set to help the Class make exciting growth over the coming few years.
With generous sponsorship from Zhik, Hartley Boats, Allen Brothers, and significant contributions from the Association, the Class was able to offer entry incentives, with first 100 entries to the 2016 Nationals paying just £40 coupled with a generous array of prizes.
Chris Hawley, chairman of the Class Association commented: "We aim to create an enjoyable environment for all of our members both on and off the water. We have some really great sailors and importantly a friendly supportive attitude through the fleet. We saw the 20th anniversary as a great way of marketing the Class, so just after the Paignton Nationals in July 2015 we decided to aim high for 100 boats, with the entry opening in October. We were offered generous sponsorship, which we are very grateful for. We hit 120 almost immediately, so had to cap the entry for safety grounds and produce a waiting list."
With just under two months before the mid summer event, plans are progressing well and Llandudno is poised to cope with the huge fleet. Hawley continued: "The ten race, three-day championship format (late start on day one and early finish on day three) works well and I believe encourages a bigger turnout. For this special event, we've booked a 4 Star hotel for our grand anniversary dinner. We are pleased that Mark Giles, the original designer will be in attendance as well as the original prototype Supernova participating in the racing (though not being sailed by Mark)."
Other key 20th anniversary events so far have included the Oxford Carriers Winter Nationals in February at Bowmoor SC with 31 entries, and the Class debut at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show in March, which generated a lot of interest particularly among newcomers looking for both new and secondhand boats. The Inland Championship at Northampton SC in September is expected to attract well over 60 boats.
While the anniversary year (and the celebrations that go with it) have naturally proved a great way to boost interest within the Class, the real growth in ownership of the Supernova over the last few years has helped to firm up its position as one of the most rewarding singlehanded dinghies to sail.
This lightweight epoxy singlehander, designed for close competitive racing for all sailing abilities, has proved a real attraction not only for sailors from other Classes (including some of the top sailors from the Merlin Rocket fleet), but also newcomers to the sport. One of the biggest draws in the Class' anniversary year is the Noble Marine-sponsored Travellers series, which comprises over 20 open meetings. At the recent Cotswold SC Travellers event a total of 40 boats turned out.
A healthy flow of new boats from builders Hartley Boats has created a flourish of reasonably priced second-hand boats, most of which have been snapped up for the forthcoming National championship. The orders for new builds are expected to rise again post championship, which means there'll be some interesting used boats on the market once again for next season.