The Tech Dinghy is a wonderful training boat which was first designed by Professor George Owen in 1935 and built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company in Bristol, RI. They were the first dinghy built exclusively for college sailing and were rigged with the mast forward in cat rig as well as in sloop rig with the mast stepped farther aft and using a jib. The MIT Sailing Pavilion has taught about 3000 students annually how to sail in these boats and they are responsive for the novice and quirky for the experienced racer.
The sixth generation boat was designed by Penn Edmonds (MIT ’84) and has retained many of the classic attributes but actually makes learning easier with many innovative modifications. Working with Whitecap Composites the boats are now made back to the original designed sailing weight on the plans in 1935. Cored and infused vinyl-ester with a carbon skin on the inside of the hull has made the tech dinghy strong and robust as well as 100lbs lighter than the fifth generation boats. Molded in rubbing strakes on the bottom of the hull make dragging onto a dock easier, almost without friction.
Durability is critical and these boats can take a beating. Sailed into the granite seawall, other boats and the occasional bridge abutment which sneaks up on beginner sailors, the turbo tech never needs to be repaired. Panels are strong so sailors can step or fall on any surface and not break anything. A sail plan with two reef points allows lessons or racing to be conducted in any breeze with no additional moving parts and eliminates the need for storm sails.
The tech dinghy is a masterful design executed with modern technology to be extremely durable but also fun and exhilarating for sailors of all skill levels. Sailboats don’t have to be slow and heavy anymore.