News Just a few Reasons why the 420 Leads as the Boat of Choice for Youth Sailors

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Just a few Reasons why the 420 Leads as the Boat of Choice for Youth Sailors

Apr 2015

The International 420 Class has been the boat of choice for youth sailor for many years, both as a performance two-person spinnaker racing dinghy for youth and a learn-to-sail boat.

Over that time the build of the boat and materials used have evolved to ensure it uses modern materials and building techinques. The class has evolved to the point where there are no significant breakthroughs to be made within the rules and equipment is therefore very much one-design - there is no arms race in the 420. Equipment develops over time on a proven basis and the 420 class does not suffer from the teething and prototype problems of “new” equipment.

Choosing the 420 pathway provides sailors with the essential skills they will need whatever their next step in sailing. It is the perfect boat to develop skill in strategy, tactics, boat handling, tuning and technique and as the 420 is so accessible, these skills can easily be obtained by sailors in developing nations.

Whilst the 420 is accessible and easy to start to sail – it is also a performance boat which demands excellent skills to compete at the top level. MNAs and sailing clubs can invest knowing their investment will last both across the generations of sailors (for young and old) and as current sailors progress through their careers.

Track Record
There is a well-organized International 420 Class Association that arranges World, Ladies, European, Junior European and Team Racing Championships. The International 420 is well-established worldwide, particularly in youth sailing programmes. The 420 provides equal opportunity to compete at 420 Championships for girls and boys crews and mixed crews.

The 420 has been by far the most popular two-person dinghy at the Youth Sailing World Championships over the last forty years and continues to be selected.

Sailed in well over 45 countries, the 420 is proven as a great training boat, and an ideal class whatever your next step in sailing. Many sailors successfully move to the Olympic two-person classes, and former 420 sailors are World Champions in many dinghy and yacht classes, as well as pursuing offshore, match racing and team racing sailing careers. Just a few of today's well-known sailors who learnt their skills in the 420 are: Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL), Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS), Peter Burling (NZL), Lucas Calabrese (ARG), Taylor Canfield (ISV), Paul Campbell-James (GBR), Asenathi Jim/Roger Hudson (RSA), Peter Lang (DEN), Hannah Mills (GBR), Nathan Outteridge (AUS), Luke Patience (GBR) .... and many more.

The International 420 is the natural progression from the junior racing classes, such as the Optimist and Cadet. Young sailors moving up, or those new to racing, will find the rig easy to master. On the water, the 420 planes easily, yet the hull shape gives a measure of stability. Should a capsize occur, the 420 is easy to right and comes up with little water in it. The controls allow for a variety of crew weights to get maximum speed on the water, as well as enabling sailing in higher wind strengths and in choppy sea states.

The 420 is a proven transition class which provides sailors with excellent skills in strategy, tactics, boat handling, tuning and technique.

There are 420 builders all over the world and equipment is easily available, with a 420 ready to sail costing on average EUR5,500.

Choosing your Crew
As with any two-person boat, finding a crew is important. Sailing with a good crew is part of the fun of the International 420, but also a vital learning process for future sailing. When starting out, a good sailing friend is probably a sensible start! In due course, you may need a partner who has the same sailing ambitions as you.

Sailing the International 420 often leads to Olympic Class sailing, as the quality of the racing and international competition is very high. Ideally, the combined weight should be in the 110-145 kilo range. But at first, learning to work in partnership is important, with both roles mutually dependent, as well as learning the controls of the boat. When these are mastered, it may be time to get the lighter sailor on the helm and the heavier sailor “on the wire”.

Training Resources
There are a wide range of online training resources to help you learn how to sail the 420 and improve your performance. Visit where you can find coaching and training tips for both the beginner and experienced 420 sailor through our online video guides:
420 to the Max - shows you how to master specific techniques in different wind and sea conditions and is available in English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese.
420 Exercise e-Book - introduces performance improvement techniques for coaches and sailors, with step by step instructions, video, commmentary and guidance on how to evaluate performance.

The 420 Class runs regional training clinics and pre-Championship Clinics, led by expert coaches. The 420 Class has also partnered with World Sailing to support the “Youth Worlds Emerging Nations Programme”.

Most importantly – 420 Sailors Have Fun!

Take a look at our 420 Flyer and Powerpoint Presentation on the 420 Class

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