S12 Club New design – lightweight and efficient plywood racing dinghy

First of all … welcome to those who have picked up a flyer from the Vancouver wooden boat show where the S12 Club prototype is making a first public appearance.

When Rick, who is building the prototype in Canada, delivered it to the show the comments were positive;

Everyone seemed to love the boat.

Comments like ‘art deco’ and beautiful, and love the curves, and ‘if that would have been painted, I’d swear it was plastic’

Judging is tomorrow. We will see what the experts think of it. (see initial sailing trials)

New Efficient dinghy design from Storer boat plans. 12ft about 110lbs


The ideas behind the boat are to show what one of the wholesome low cost, highly efficient, self build plywood dinghies from Australia and NZ in the 1970s might have evolved into if everyone hadn’t got sidetracked by composites, carbon fibre, ball bearing fitouts – for an incremental increase in performance but a huge increase in boat cost.

So this is something lower cost that doesn’t dumb down any of the essentials.

Modern tech has some advantages, even though real innovation will apply to any type of boat equally – things like sail twist control or lighter construction methods (the OZ/NZ standard for plywood boats is between 8 and 10 pounds per foot of length – there are plenty of composite and even carbon sailboats that exceed that substantially.

One example of using modern tech to advantage is the square top mainsail.  Normally a way of cramming sail area up high, here it is used to reduce the mast length to;

  • Save cost of materials by making the mast a foot and a half shorter
  • Save labour
  • Reduce the length of the mast when towing or roofracking
  • Reduce the difficulty of rigging the boat – it should be easier than some 10 foot long boats.

One unusual thing is that the sail must have a reef built into it as standard.  This will allow the standard sail to be reduced down to the popular 4.7 sq metre area made popular by the Laser and other dinghies.  A great idea for learners and lighter sailors (but the lighter sailors are going to be very tempted to use the full sail I think 🙂

New 12ft self build racing dinghy from storer boat plans. Cheap but very cool.


Despite being a svelte looking boat the starting point for the structure is a simple box – much like one of my very nice sailing  OzRacer box shaped boats.  This is also the building frame.  It doesn’t look cool at all … right 🙂  There are a couple of modifications from this photo already incorporated in the plans.

start with a box shape to make a very cool looking, light and fast sailing dinghy from plywood - storerboatplans.com


The building method is an advance over the normal stitch and glue type build.  Stitching is very laborious and leads to an ugly interior join as the epoxy fillet or glass tape has to hop over all the copper wires or cable ties.  In this case the build uses a similar method to the OzRacer RV and the Quick Canoes – the hull is assembled and held together using gaffer tape.

Stitch and glue without the pesky stitches.  Gaffer tape used for a cool looking racing dinghy.


The advantage of this method is that the interior is very clean making the glass taping or epoxy filleting very simple as you have a clean go at it … it is easy to just go through almost the whole boat and fillet/tape everything in one session.  The only timber used is to put the deck on, stiffen the top of the transom, fit the centrecase and the stem.  Everything else is filleted.

Storer plywood racing dinghy.  Gaffer tape building method leaves interior very clean and fast to fillet/glass tape.


12ft plywood racing dinghy - simple to build but fast and light


Now there’s little point of promising easy building if the result is nondescript … so more photos.

Light fast and efficient dinghy with modest sail area

Deck is not trimmed yet in these two photos.

12ft performance plywood sailing dinghy.  Light and efficient with moderate sail area




A photo from Rick varnishing the boat.  He extended the wings from my original drawings “go wide or go home” he said.

I think he was right.  It has catalyzed the appearance.  He is the test pilot anyhow, so if he gets a big dunking … then it’s all his fault! 🙂

New 12ft sailing dinghy plan from storerboats - performance with low cost


The boat has to be rigged and sailed to make sure everything works OK and to get the basic sail design and mast design to co-operate for the gust response we are looking for.  We jump some extra hoops with all my designs to make sure they will sail exceptionally well out of the boatshed/garage/living room.

Then compiling the plans might take a few months.  My advantage (and disadvantage) is the plans are highly detailed and offer a step by step instruction book into building a lean and efficient boat.  Someone once called my plans “A boatbuilding course in a book” – which is pretty accurate.  For this boat they will be about 100 pages and price will be the normal $100 for my more expensive range of cartop/trailerable plans.

I think this boat offers something quite different from the normal building project.

And something quite different on the water.   I think it will kick up a lot of interest wherever it is sailed.

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2 thoughts on “S12 Club New design – lightweight and efficient plywood racing dinghy

  1. There is a lot about this boat I love. The lines, the architectural design.

    I have loved stitch and glue (or tape up) with plywood. But the fact is that the plywood becomes more and more difficult to find where we (Michael and I) live, the Philippines. Good Santa Clara becomes more difficult to find every day. Tuffply seems to have vanished. It is easy to get “marine” plywood that upon close examination is full of serious voids and may quickly delaminate because of poor quality control over the glues and gluing process.

    Plywood becomes less and less viable as a decent boat building material in the Philippines. My solution, not yet perfected, is to make composite panels that can be used like plywood. We, at Tropical Boats in the Philippines, are exploring a variety of natural fibers, bamboo, abaca, sisal combined with fiberglass, carbon and various resins to build panels that take the place of plywood in stitch and glue (or tape up) designs.

    Robert La Quey

    • Hi Robert,

      Options of other materials are always good. I’ll always design in plywood because it is so accessible.

      There is one Goat Island Skiff that was built in Foam Sandwich though – it does add significant labour. If someone wants to change the materials they are welcome to contact me. There are many poor alternative materials and only a few good ones. I can help narrow the choices.

      There is a worldwide market for off-the-shelf composite sheets as that alternative is quite expensive in other countries. The Philippines with its clever but lower cost workforce is a good place to manufacture such products.


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