The Enterprise is a 14 foot (4 m), two person sloop-rigged hiking sailing dinghy, and is easily recognisable due to its distinctive light blue sails (1. wikipedia link). PHOTO OF ONE OF OUR ENTS, SIDE ON WITH SAILS UP.
It is a large, versatile and uncomplicated sailing boat that can be used to take a small family out for pleasant afternoon cruising on the water or be used as a 2 person racing boat, and anything in between. It usually comes with two sets of sails, one racing set and a smaller set for cruising, and is large and sturdy enough to fit a small outboard motor on the back (though this may require using an extra piece of wood to strengthen the transom).
In the middle of the night on January 9th 1956, the first two Enterprises to be built were sailed from Dover to Calais. This impressive feat served as both a test for the boats and as advertising stunt to grab the world’s attention, and it certainly worked as the Enterprise became one of the most popular classes of dinghy worldwide.
The boat was designed and constructed by the brilliant and innovative, Jack Holt, and originally called “The New Chronicle Enterprise”. This was the first UK sailing dinghy to be sponsored by a national newspaper and predates Jack Holt’s other famously sponsored boat “The Mirror” Dinghy. Nowadays, it is simple known as an Enterprise, but still remains one of the most popular dinghies over 60 years later.
Read more about the history of the Enterprise and Jack Holt, in the highly informative article on the Yachts and Yachting website.(2. link)
In order to reduce costs and increase popularity, the first Enterprises could be purchased in kit form and then constructed at home out of thin plywood. However, pre-constructed plywood boats were also available for an additional price. Later on, GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) boats became popular due to their low maintenance, water resistance and being hard wearing. Much more recent are the FRP boats (Foam-Reinforced Plastic – this term is not technically correct, but is commonly used), where the hull is formed from a thin layer of foam, sandwiched between two layers of GRP (much like a modern surfboard). In addition, composite boats can also be found, which consist of a GRP hull and wooden decking. A NICE PICTURE OF MIKES BOAT (WOOD), ONE OF OUR PLASTIC BOATS AND LLOYDS BOAT (COMPOSITE).
However, construction material is not an indication of boat age (apart from the modern FRP Enterprises), since both wood and plastic have remained popular construction materials. Large numbers of wooden, GRP and composite boats were built in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, however there have only been about a 1000 new Enterprises built in the last 20 years, most of which are of FRP construction. In addition to the different construction materials used, there have also been many different builders of Enterprises over the years, but the one thing that has remained constant for all these boats since their initial design, has been the strict enforcement of the International Enterprise Class Rules (3. link). Although some amendments have been made over the years (and will no doubt continue), the essential features of the Enterprise have stayed the same. This means that all Enterprises can remain competitive with each other, regardless of age, construction method or even purchase price. (See following section, Buying an Enterprise).
According to the UK Enterprise Association (4. link), there are now more than 23,400 registered Enterprise dinghies around the world, and Class Racing still attracts large numbers on a local, national and international level.
Since the Enterprise has been manufactured by a large number of different boat builders over the years, all boats require certifying that they conform to the Enterprise Class Rules. Official Enterprise measurers perform the task of measuring and weighing the boats, and a measurement certificate is then issued and a record is kept by the Enterprise Association. If you compete in local, national or international events that are sanctioned by the Enterprise Association, then your boat will require certification. To check if your boat has been issued a certificate, contact the Enterprise Association (4. Link), stating the sail number of the boat. They will advise you if a certificate has been issued in the past and can offer a replacement certificate for a small fee. If your Enterprise has not had a certificate issued, the Enterprise Association can also advise you about the nearest official measurer, though getting your boat measured may not be a quick or cheap process. However, you are still welcome to race your boat with the rest of the fleet at LSC, even without a certificate.
If you’re thinking of buying an Enterprise (and why wouldn’t you?), there are usually quite a few for sale online. Popular websites for buying a second-hand dinghy include Ebay (5. Link) and ApolloDuck (6. Link), as well as the Enterprise Association (4. Link). Boats often come up for sale on group Facebook pages too; e.g. “Enterprise Association (7. Link)”, “Enterprise Dinghy (8. Link)” and “Dinghies and Dinghy Bits for Sale (9. Link)”.
So, which Enterprise should you buy? The following information is for guidance, but if you see a boat you like and would like our advice, then please contact the LSC Enterprise group. There was an interesting article on the Enterprise Association website, which examined the factors for the Top 12 boats at the 2016 Nationals (10. link). It’s not all about money, age of boat or construction material. Indeed, the major factors that will influence boat speed are condition of sails, hull, centreboard, rudder and equipment, as well as rigging and tension, and not least, the ability and weight of helm and crew.
What is your budget? At our LSC Enterprise Class AGM (11. Link), there was a consensus that the approach of Enterprise racing at LSC was to obtain a fleet of boats that are of similar speed and of low cost, to make entry into racing or cruising as accessible as possible and to be a test of ability rather than technological or costly improvements. We want to be more towards the “banger” racing end of the spectrum, rather than Formula 1, and have tight races with similarly cheap boats. With that in mind, many a cheap boat can be had for as little as £200, and there are a great deal below £500, but if you wish to buy a brand new Rondar Mk3 FRP at around £8000, then you’d still be welcome to join us.
What should you get for your money? Even a cheap boat will usually come with a set of sails (preferable a set of smaller cruising sails as well), the hull (PICTURE) and all equipment in good order, especially mast (PICTURE), rudder (PICTURE) and centreboard (PICTURE), a launching trolley (PICTURE) and if you’re lucky, a road trailer as well (PICTURE). In general, when buying any boat, you should always carry out a thorough inspection of the hull, mast and boom, rigging, foils and sails, as well as the launching trolley and road trailer. Ideally you should get the owner to take you out in the boat, but this is not always practical or possible. Be aware that price is not always a guarantee of quality. Also, a cheap boat may cost you more overall for better sails, a launching trolley (can cost £250 for a new one!) and other repairs, than a slightly more expensive boat in good order, with good sails and a trolley.
Wood or plastic? Boat builder? Our current fleet mainly consists of GRP boats built by Holt (PICTURE OF TRANSOM PLATE), as these are usually readily available and cheap to buy second-hand, as well as being robust and easy to maintain. During our AGM, the experienced sailors expressed the opinion that the difference in speed between wooden boats and plastic boats (GRP/FRP) was marginal. However, it was noted that some manufacturers are considered better than others, and more information about this can be found in a short article written by one of our expert members (12. Link). Older GRP boats are generally cheap to buy in a good, seaworthy condition. They are easy to repair and maintain, capable of withstanding a few knocks, and are therefore ideal for beginners. However, they may become “softer” with age and perhaps more sluggish and less buoyant as a result. Preferably, they should have built in buoyancy tanks, rather than buoyancy bags, as the tanks provide greater rigidity and strength to the boat.
Wooden boats, when maintained, certainly look beautiful and are generally stiffer than their older GRP counterparts. They are usually lighter than the older GRP boats (though a minimum weigh is required in the International Enterprise Class Rules 3. LInk), and often have buoyancy bags, rather than tanks. However, they may be less robust, require more maintenance and can be more difficult to repair. Wooden boats can still be purchased cheaply, but a seaworthy boat in good order will likely cost a bit more.
The more recent FRP boats retain their stiffness, whilst being lighter than the older GRP models. They require little maintenance, but will be much more costly (£2000 +). Also, in the event of a capsize, these lighter boats will sit higher in the water when on their side, making them more difficult to right, harder to get back into and increases the chances of the boat rolling fully over (turning turtle).
Does the boat have a certificate? Many of the measurement certificates will have been lost over the years, and the boat is likely to have had several owners. It’s worth asking the vendor if your boat has been measured, but don’t be surprised if they don’t have a certificate or know if one has been issued. The lack of a certificate should not put you off buying the boat, especially if the boat is not costing very much. (See above section on Certification, to find out how to get a certificate).
Overall, the choice of boat depends on your budget, availability, the look of the boat, and how much effort you wish to put in with maintenance!
Getting the boat and storage. The last things to consider are getting your boat home and where you to put it? There are several options for transporting the boat. Sometimes, the vendor will offer to deliver for a fee (usually for the cost of the petrol), or there are companies that will collect and deliver boats. Alternatively, you can collect yourself or perhaps ask around the club if someone is willing to help you. There are rules for towing a boat (13. Link), and you will need to ensure that the road trailer is in good order and everything is tied down properly. If the boat does not come with a road trailer and you do not have one, then ask at the club as there will be plenty around that you may be able to borrow.
Storing the boat at home will save you money and makes it easier to maintain the boat, but does mean you have to tow it to the water every time you want to use it, and during the summer months our beaches and roads become very busy. Obviously, you will need room for this and we are not all lucky enough to have space for a boat. At the club we have rack space for members’ boats, but you will need to check first that there are spaces available before you purchase your boat. Contact the LSC Rack Officer to for availability and cost.