About the GP14 Dinghy
With recent developments and the continued backing of an active class association, the GP14 remains one of the UK’s most popular sailing dinghies for close, competitive tactical fleet racing.
The GP14 is used for all levels of sailing, from training beginners through club racing to competing at regional, national and world events. As a relatively stable boat it is ideal to learn to sail in and is sailed by people of all ages and abilities. For competitive racing there is a wide tolerance of all-up crew weight.
Originally designed by Jack Holt in 1949, the GP14 is easily recognised by the distinctive bell on the mainsail. This is thought to be either a reference to the legendary bells of Aberdyfi, North Wales, where Jack Holt is alleged to have designed the GP14 or, perhaps more likely, it relates to the original manufacturer Bell Woodworking.
The idea behind the design was to build a general purpose (GP), 14-foot dinghy which could be raced, cruised, rowed or to which you could even attach an outboard motor if you wanted to! Nowadays, you are most likely to see the GP14 being used to race competitively, training people to sail or occasionally just enjoying a casual cruise around a lake, estuary or coastline.
The boat was initially designed with a mainsail and small jib as a comfortable family dinghy. The jib is still available, and it can be particularly useful when using the boat to teach sailing or for lighter crew weights, but these days the GP14 is more commonly seen with the full rig of mainsail, genoa and spinnaker.
In the early 1990s a new internal layout was introduced, with built-in underfloor buoyancy. Commonly known as the “Mark 2” design, one of the great benefits that this introduced is that following a capsize the boat comes up with very little water in it.
As an active racing class, the design of the “mark 2” GP14 is gradually evolving. Changes are overseen and approved by the Class Association who ensure that the strict “one-class” design is maintained.
This has been further modified in the recent years by boat builders like Alistair Duffin (who builds in wood), and David Winder who manufactures in glass-reinforced plastic (GRP). Other boat builders also contribute to the ongoing refinements that ensure the GP14 remains popular and stands as a world class racing dinghy.
Whilst improvements to materials, design and ergonomic interior changes benefit the latest boats, the external dimensions and weight of the boat are closely controller, and this means that boats of all ages can still compete on an equal “one-class design” basis. This is exemplified by the GP14 Association World and National championships, which see boats of all ages still competing, and the top sailors are not always sailing the most recent boats!