Mirror Dinghy

About the Mirror Dinghy

Mirror Dinghy SymbolThe story of the origins of the Mirror dinghy is a remarkable one. Barry Bucknall, a DIY celebrity from the BBC in the 1960s, started developing plans for an affordable dinghy that could be built at home in order to encourage the spread of sailing. The Daily Mirror newspaper picked up on the story and put up the funds to develop the concept on the condition that the boat was named after the paper, and that the sails were the same colour as their logo - red.

Bucknall teamed up with Jack Holt, and the boat they came up with was unusual. The trademark bow was designed in order to make construction easier for less skilled home builders, and the mast was made in such a way that it could easily be taken down and would fit inside the boat for simple storage and transport.

The boat was a huge success and Mirrormania swept Britain for a few years. The class is still hugely popular now, and the boat is ideal for beginners and competitive sailors alike. Teenagers can race with their friends and parents can race with their children. There's a really good short video here (hat tip to Proper Course for highlighting this video) that explains it.

The boat is most popular in the UK where it originated, but it has also found success in Ireland, The United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands and the Phillipines. The class has been updated, with a more modern Bermudan Sloop rig, and racing ranges from fun club races to highly competitive international championships. Many sailors have gone on from the Mirror to be hugely successful in sailing, and this is testament to the range of skills that can be learnt from what is a very clever, very simple and very fun boat.

Videos for Mirror Sailing

Accelerating at the start:


Hoisting the spinnaker:

Gybing with the spinnaker:

Dropping the spinnaker:

Footage from the Mirror Worlds in South Africa 2007

Books for Mirror Sailing

Specific for Mirrors

The Mirror Book: Mirror Sailing from Start to Finish by Peter Aitkin and Tim Davison

United States
Great Britain and Ireland

Mirror Racing by Guy Wilkins

Great Britain and Ireland
United States

Sailing The Mirror by Roy Partridge

Great Britain and Ireland
United States

The Unlikely Voyage of Jack De Crow by A. J. Mackinnon

Great Britain and Ireland
United States

General Books Useful for Mirror Dinghy Sailors

Coach Yourself to Win by Jon Emmett

Helming to Win by Nick Craig

Be Your Own Sailing Coach by Jon Emmett

Be Your Own Tactics Coach by Jon Emmett

Start to Win by Eric Twiname

Sail, Race and Win by Eric Twiname

High Performance Sailing by Frank Bethwaite

Higher Performance Sailing by Frank Bethwaite

Fast Handling Techniques by Frank Bethwaite

Go for the Gold by Gary Hoyt

The Psychology of Sailing for Dinghies and Keelboats by Ian Brown

Expert Dinghy Racing by Paul Elvstrom

Advanced Racing Tactics by Stuart H. Walker

Sailing Fitness and Training by Michael Blackburn

Links for Mirror Dinghy Sailors

Class Information

The International Class Association

The ISAF Class Page

Class Associations by Country/Region:

The UK Mirror Class Association
The Irish Mirror Class Association
The Australian Mirror Class Association

The Japanese Mirror Class Association
The US Mirror Dinghy Group
The Dutch Mirror Class Association
The Ontario Mirror Class Association

The Mirror Dinghy Discussion Forum

Free downloadable book: Mirror Sailing in AUS

Boat Set-up, Boat Handling and Other Tips

A very good, basic rigging guide

A really nice article on how to crew a Mirror well

Hints and tips for Mirror sailors from the Western Australia website:

Useful stuff on sail set-up and trim from Walker Sails

How to convert to centre sheeting:

Blogs and Blog Posts

Earwigoagin on Mirror Dinghies

A blog about restoring an old Mirror

The Vital Statistics

Suggested (combined) sailor weight range: 80kg-110kg (ideal weight range is 95kg-110kg)

  • Year Designed: 1962
  • Hull Length 3.3 metres
  • Beam 1.39 metres
  • Mainsail Area 4.6 square metres
  • Jib Area 1.9 square metres
  • Spinnaker 4.4 square metres
  • Hull Weight 45.5 kg

Who's Who in Mirrors

Ian Walker - A National and European champion in Mirrors, Ian Walker has gone on to win two Olympic Silver Medals (in the 470 and the Star), coached Shirley Robertson, Sarah Ayton and sarah webb to Olympic Gold in the Yngling, and has won the Volvo Ocean Race too.

Paul Goodison

Stuart Bithell

Annalise Murphy

Lucy MacGregor

Kate MacGregor

Tom King - 470 Gold Medallist in Sydney 2000

Ben Austin

Tessa Parkinson

2 thoughts on “Mirror Dinghy

  1. Brilliant.

    I wonder if Barry Bucknell ever imagined what an impact his DIY design would have on the world of sailing.

    If you can get an interview with him you will have to ask him. And also ask him if they have RS Aeros yet in heaven because if they don’t, then I don’t want to go there.

  2. It is amazing how some boats just take off – although the Mirror was a particularly clever idea. The RS Aeros seem to be growing at an amazing rate too – I’ll have to get a page up for them pretty soon.

    As for the interview, my connection to the spirit world is weak. Although I think you can assume that RS Aeros will be in heaven – my guess is that it is just one big sailing club up there.

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