Redesign a daggerboard with a ballast?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by aimee0742, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. aimee0742
    Joined: Mar 2011
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    aimee0742 New Member

    I’d like to redesign a daggerboard, probably specified to the Optimist dinghy class to aid young and novice sailors to gain more experience more quickly and efficiently without the fear or worry of heeling and capsizing.

    Many young and new sailors learn to sail in Optimists, due to their hull design and durable characteristics. I’ve instructed many people to learn how to sail and found at least 1 or 2 in each class will give up the sport due to an unexpected gybe which usually leads to the boat capsizing. I’d like to reduce this fear, to stop the children leaving the sport prematurely. I know that some people aren’t suited to the sport, and that’s fine, but if I recall learning to sail, I would have really liked the ‘training wheels’ or stabilisers so to speak to help me to sail more comfortably with more control.

    I’d be really interested on anyone’s thoughts on the concept.

    I would want the design to be able to fit in the current housing of the daggerboard slot. Anyone any thoughts on how the daggerboard could be designed with more stability? I’ve been looking at lead attachments onto the bottom of daggerboard? Or a rubber casing which takes on water as the dinghy gathers momentum creating a ballast. Again more ideas would be much appreciated.

    I think there is a potential for marketing a product like this, but only for recreational users as the Optimist is a one-design and would not be acceptable in a competitive level. Maybe it could be used by Mirror sailors also. The daggerboard could be sold to clubs that teach the young how to sail rather than to the individual users as most money spent on sailing dinghies would be in the racing stages, however this is only my assumptions.

    Thanks for your time and advice,

  2. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Opti keel?

    Ballast is probably the last thing you'd want to add to an Optimist! You might wind up with a boat that could sink right out from under the young ones. Ballast won't eliminate capsize and could wind up making the results far more dangerous.
    Handling heeling and learning to sail with the characteristics of the wind acting on the boat is one of the most important learning aspects of the Optimist.
    There are several designs of small catamarans suitable for Optimist kids to learn on but capsize will always be a possibility.
    There might be a possibility of adding removable outriggers(training wheels) or some buoyancy around the sheer line like a RIB but this would require experimentation.
    Good luck and please let us know what you decide to do.
  3. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Doug is correct. In order to gain any meaningful stability, the board would have to be very deep and very heavy. By deep I mean something like 5 or 6 feet. You would need more weight at the bottom of the board than a small person could manipulate. Sorry to rain on your parade. Ballast is not only impractical for a boat like the opti, but also dangerous. Good try. Keep thinking.
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Rig a large diameter "pool noodle" along each rail on the Opti. It will not prevent capsizes, but will offer a final, last ditch bit of reserve buoyancy, before the crap hits the fan and over she goes. Think of them as training wheels they'll out grow fairly quickly.

    Lastly, some will just not like going slow and or getting wet, while others will attempt to convince every ounce of wind pressure, out of the handkerchief of a sail. This is a normal aspect of sail training, you just can't keep them all interested. The one's you do manage to keep are usually also the ones, that jump in every mud puddle they see, on their way home from school on a rainy day. They're the one's I like as they're most like me.
  5. keith66
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    keith66 Senior Member

    Having been involved with a yacht club cadet week for many years i dont think a ballasted dagger board is of any practical merit.
    The kids start at 7 years old & for the rank beginers our instructors normally put two of them in the oppy sitting either side at the back, they then swop between steering & mainsheet. If its at all windy they take the sprit out halving the sail area. We get a fair few collisions but very few capsizes.
    Once they have the hang of it they get put in a boat on their own, by the end of the week most of them are flying about loving it.
    Some kids are just not cut out for it & are going to get scared whatever you do.

  6. JRD
    Joined: May 2010
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    JRD Senior Member

    Hi Aimee, its all true. Also Opti's tend to take on quite alot of water punching through even small waves and any kind of ballast would make this worse.

    When our club is doing learn to sail kids training, they pick a warm day early on and get them to have capsize games in the shallows. They get wet, muddy and make lots of noise. The worst thing about the first ever capsize for kids is when it comes as a surprise and they don't feel like theyre in a safe location.
    If they are going to sail centreboard boats, capsizing is a fact of life. Best get the first one out of the way sooner than later. If they are too nervous it may be they are too young or just not cut out for it. If they are nervous disposition and young they should be introduced to boats when they get older. Too many parents push kids into sailing before they are ready, and as a result they quit and try something else..... like motocross or rock climbing!
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