MG14: Moulding the future

The ‘Manly Graduate’ 14ft sailing skiff has been on the Australian sailing scene for a long time now, and while many other ‘traditional’ classes have dwindled and almost disappeared, the MG is embracing its development roots and forging ahead. The past few seasons have seen upwards of 50 boats registered for Association events, and strong fleets and intense racing at State and National Events.

While the MG still maintains close links with its cousin the NS14 in sharing basic hull and rig dimensions, the need for hull designs more suited to the higher average speeds of the MG, due to the powerful asymmetric spinnaker and trapeze, is resulting in a flurry of off-season development.

There are now four hull designs in the pipeline, both commercially and privately.

The ‘Tiger’ – Mark Thorpe Boatbuilding is continuing to produce the all-conquering ‘Tiger’ design hull – the boat that has won nearly every title in the class in the past decade, and is the benchmark to which performance is judged.

‘Midnight’ – a new design from Stuart Friezer (who also penned the Tiger) – a semi-production build led by Bernard Parker. This hull design is a progression of the Tiger lines, incorporating volume distribution changes to better suit heavier crews and attempt to improve light air planing transition.

Aero 12(b) – Michael Nash has been a long-time designer of successful NS14s, and many of these have also made winning MGs. The Aero 12 has always been a front runner, but has never quite clinched a title. Dave Dillon and Neil Murphy have teamed up to produce an evolution of the original Aero 12 design, incorporating deck and foil geometry changes which have demonstrated some performance in achieving an overall podium at the last NS14 state titles.

There is also another completely new Aero design currently in build – again with Michael Nash involved, this is sure to be a competitive boat – all eyes will be on it once it hits the racecourse!

Home building has been, and always will be an option for the MG class and many of the top boats over the years have come out of backyard sheds. The female moulds for the highly successful ‘Moondance’ design are available for those with the skills, and there is also the opportunity for a completely home-designed, built and rigged one-off as demonstrated with Aaron Gores Scurvy Rascal.

We have been fortunate in the past to have had some of Australia’s best boat builders servicing the class, and this results in extremely long competitive life and resale value for the boats. With all the new boatbuilding activity, there is increasing availability of second hand MGs at all levels of budget. A fantastic entry level boat can be found starting at around $2500, competitive highly specc’d setups from $4-5K, right thru to championship contenders at $8-10K. New boat setups vary depending on fitout level and rig options, as well as professionally and homebuilt variables. But the best thing is that you can decide exactly what you want – right down to picking the colours!

The MG is certainly a class to watch, as it is carving its own niche in the Australian skiff and dinghy sailing scene. It’s a class where time and dedication to learning the boat counts, where youth and exuberance is often upset by age and experience! It is this mix which is proving such a driving force in recent times, as generations move in and on from 12/14/16/18ft skiffs, young teen crews move on from Flying 11s/29ers/Cherubs, and parent/child combos who enjoy the ride and performance only a trapeze and spinnaker can provide.

The coming 2016/2017 season sees the MG14s holding the NSW Titles at Gosford Sailing Club in November. This series will serve as the ideal warm up for the Australian Championships, which are being held at Mannering Park on Lake Macquarie from December 27 to 31, 2016. A record fleet is anticipated and with accommodation available right next to the club, the social activities are sure to be as enjoyable as the sailing.

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Jeanneau JY60