Mirror (dinghy)

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Current Specifications
File:Mirror Dinghy on Combs Resevoir.jpg
A Mirror on Combs Reservoir in Derbyshire
Class Symbol
Crew 2
LOA 3.30 m (10 ft 10 in)
LWL 1.38 m (4 ft 6 in) [citation needed]
Beam 1.39 m (4 ft 7 in)
Draft .700 m (2 ft 3.6 in)
Hull weight 45.5 kg (100 lb)
Mainsail area 4.6 m2 (50 sq ft)
Jib / Genoa area 1.9 m2 (20 sq ft)
Spinnaker area 4.4 m2 (47 sq ft)

The Mirror is a highly successful pram dinghy, with more than 70,000 built.

The Mirror was named after the Daily Mirror, a UK newspaper with a largely working class distribution. The Mirror was from the start promoted as an affordable boat, and it has probably done more than any other design to make dinghy sailing in the UK a sport available to anyone.[citation needed] Although most popular in the UK, Mirrors are also used in other countries, notably Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, New Zealand and the Philippines.


The Mirror was designed by Jack Holt and TV do-it-yourself expert Barry Bucknell in 1962[1]. It employed a novel construction method where sheets of marine plywood are held together with copper stitching and fibreglass tape. This is called tack and tape or stitch and glue construction. Buoyancy is provided by four independent integral chambers rather than by bags. It was originally designed to be built with simple tools and little experience, and this meant that the design was quite simple - for example, a daggerboard is used instead of a hinged centreboard. The characteristic pram front reduces the need for the more complicated curved wooden panels and joinery needed for a pointed bow. The result, however, was a robust, versatile and fairly light boat that can be easily maintained and repaired, and can also be got into the water very quickly from storage or transport. Although most experienced sailors would carry a paddle rather than oars, if necessary it rows well. If the transom is strengthened, an outboard motor can be used for propulsion.

The original rig was a Gunter Rig, but in 2006 the class rules were changed to allow a single mast and an alloy boom[2]. Although a Bermudan sloop rig has now been introduced for the Mirror, the original Gunter rig, with a gaff that effectively doubles the height of the mast, meant that all the spars could be packed inside the hull for easy storage or transportation. This same space saving is still available with the Bermudan rig by using an optional two-piece aluminium mast. Mirrors can be sailed without a jib by moving the mast into an optional forward step and moving the shroud attachment points forward. However, in this configuration it can be difficult to tack, so it would mainly be used to de-power the boat for beginners. Most single handers retain the mast in the standard position and because of the Mirror’s small size handle the jib as well.

Mirror class rules permit the use of a spinnaker. This may also be used by single handers as well - although flying a main, jib and spinnaker singlehanded sounds complex, it is quite manageable with a bit of practise.

Mainsail controls permitted by the class are downhaul (Cunningham), outhaul and kicking strap (Vang). The Jib tack fixing may also be adjustable while sailing allowing changes in jib luff tension and tack height.

The Mirror is light and stable enough to be sailed safely by two young teenagers; it is a little cramped for two adults. It is an excellent boat for children or teenagers learning sailing for the first time.[citation needed]


Despite not being a particularly fast dinghy, the Mirror is popular for one-design racing [3]. Because of the very large number that have been made, it is fairly easy to find other Mirror sailors to cruise or race with - at least in the countries where the Mirror is popular.[citation needed] The large fleet of similar boats coupled with the Mirror's stability and relative complexity (for a boat of this size) make it the ideal boat to learn racing skills. It is a recommended UK Olympic pathway boat and many top sailors learned their trade in mirrors. Mirrors are raced competitively worldwide.

The Mirror World Championship is contested biannually by the nations of Ireland, the UK, the Republic of South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Netherlands and Australia. Ireland has been the most successful country of late, winning the championship in 1999 (Marty Moloney and Revelin Minihane), 2001 (Peter Bayly and William Atkinson), 2003 (Chris Clayton and Craig Martin) and 2005 (Ross Kearney and Adam Mc Cullough.) In January 2007 the Mirror World Championship was contested in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.[4] The winners were Anna Mackenzie and Holly Scott from team GBR. They were the first all-female team to win the title, and the first British pairing since 1997[5].


Mirrors have been on coastal cruises - one has even been sailed and rowed singlehanded from Ellesmere (near Liverpool) to the Black Sea[6]. In bad weather, Mirrors remain well behaved and have inspired confidence in many young sailors. Their seaworthiness is excellent for their size.[citation needed]

Mirrors are very similar to the Heron, which are also gunter rigged. The major difference is in the bow. Mirrors have a pram bow, whereas Herons have a pointed bow. Each has its advantages: for example, in areas with swell a Mirror will ride over waves, while a Heron will plough through them. Because of the extra effort that needs to be exerted to travel through the waves rather than over them, the Heron is slowed significantly. On the other hand, the Heron has the advantage in calm waters.

Mirror No 1 may be seen at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall[7]


  1. "History". UK Mirror Class association. http://www.ukmirrorsailing.com/mca/history.htm. 
  2. "Class". UK Mirror Class association. http://www.ukmirrorsailing.com/. 
  3. "Attendance at UK National Championships". http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/classes/?s=44. 
  4. Mirror Worlds 2007
  5. Mirror Class Sailing Race Results Website
  6. The story of this journey is told in the book The Unlikely Voyage of Jack De Crow: A Mirror Odyssey from North Wales to the Black Sea, by A. J. Mackinnon ISBN 978-1574091526)
  7. NMMC website

External links

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