May / June 2021

Gaffling 4.1

An old gaffer for a new generation
OGA Dinghy

Gil Hayward sails the Gaffling 4.1 on the River Dart. British designer Andrew Wolstenholme designed the gaff-rigged dinghy to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Old Gaffers Association in 2018.

Gil Hayward had one simple instruction from his wife when he went to the Beale Park Boat Show near Pangbourne, England, in June 2011: “Do not buy a boat!” However, once they got to the show Hayward happened to spot a boat on exhibit that had been built to a design called Kite, a new 21' trailer-sailer by Andrew Wolstenholme. Andrew himself happened to be in the booth, and Hayward couldn’t resist having a chat with him. One thing led to another, as these things do, and a few weeks later Gil and Carolyn had a test sail on the Kite on the river off Lymington. Even Carolyn was won over by the spacious cockpit and attractive teak trim and, despite her earlier instruction, the couple soon ordered what was only the second boat built to the design from Dorset boatbuilder Dick Phillips.

Ten years later, Hayward says he’s never regretted that decision. Despite having owned a range of boats, from an 18' gaffer to a 36' modern cruising yacht, he says the Kite is his favorite. But setting up, sailing, and then stowing a 21' boat on a mooring can be a time-consuming affair, so Hayward decided to buy a smaller boat for more impromptu sailing. It helped that the back garden of his house at Dittisham on the River Dart in Devon opens directly onto the dinghy park of the local sailing club, meaning he could keep a boat on a trailer just a few feet from his back gate. Hayward duly bought a pretty little lapstrake dinghy built by McNulty Boats in Newcastle, secondhand, in which he enjoyed pottering around on the river for a couple of years, with or without visiting children and grandchildren.

At about this time, the Old Gaffers Association (OGA), of which Hayward was a member, launched a new project to celebrate its 55th anniversary: a 13' 6" kit boat also designed by Wolstenholme. Despite its modest size, the new OGA dinghy had an important mission at its heart: to promote the gaff rig. The OGA has always been a campaigning organization and has had remarkable success, mainly through regattas and social events, in raising awareness of what was once an endangered boat species. The organization’s 50th anniversary bash in Cowes in 2013 was attended by nearly 200 gaffers.

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