The Flying Dutchman is one of those designs that will quickly grab your attention. The lines of the hull are sleek and elegant. As you look closer key design features stand out: a hull nearly 20 foot in length and 6 foot beam, but weighs as little as 287 pounds (130 kilos). A fine entry point with a flat back end that easily promotes planing upwind. Underway, the FD is quite distinctive with its large, overlapping genoa dominating the powerful rig, crew on the trapeze wire and skipper hiked out. In a breeze the Flying Dutchman does fly, launching off wave crests or slicing through others. Forgiving to new sailors, stable and easily controlled by knowledgeable sailors, particularly in high winds, when it becomes the fastest of monohull dinghies and the ride becomes magical. This is the thrill of sailing.
Look inside the boat and the number of control lines is what you will first notice. Don’t be fooled. Most control lines on the FD are double ended so they can be constantly tweaked by the skipper from a hiked position. On an FD, ease of adjustment is critical to squeezing all possible speed out of the rig. During the heyday of the FD’s Olympic career, Sail magazine wrote, “The helmsman’s feel needs to be ‘pedal to the metal’ fast in all conditions and his touch on the myriad of rig-tweaking control lines must be slightly clairvoyant.” Sailors who want a constant challenge of learning how sometimes minor adjustments in sail shape can make dramatic differences in boat speed are always attracted to the FD.
On the front end of the boat the crew’s challenge is to bring the whole program together. Wrestling the large genoa into place while moving out onto the trapeze wire to balance the boat takes strength and endurance, plus a cool head to watch the racecourse and communicate the wind, seaway and race situations to the helm. Off the wind, the crew controls the spinnaker and with sufficient breeze can do that on the wire as the FD reaches its highest speeds, taking in the occasional glimpse of the centerboard slicing through the water as the boat skips along, water flying everywhere.
Speed, beauty, elegance, excitement. You provide the skill, mental challenge, strength and endurance.
Or maybe not all that strength and endurance. The FD, with radical depowering abilities and now lighter carbon spars is a great choice for lighter and less athletic crews. While the Class provides excellent regional, National and International competition, many find local sailing to be just as exhilarating without the bruises and regular workout regiment. And when lighter crews want to be competitive the wide range of tuning adjustments can make that a reality.
Just the beauty of the boat is sufficient to attract many sailors. There is a growing number of owners who have purchased older boats and refurbished them to near original condition. Truly a labor of love that is rewarded by many smiles of FD sailors or others who can’t help but appreciate the elegance of an old woodie keeping up with newer boats on flatter water.
So there you have it. Excitement. Beauty. Challenge. That’s what the Flying Dutchman offers. In these web pages we are collecting all the information we can – about the new, the old, the good ideas, and not so good – to help you enjoy what so many of us have discovered.
The joy of Flying Dutchman sailing.