The Mirror occupies a unique place amongst the many different classes of sailing dinghy. Anyone at virtually any age can start their sailing in a Mirror. You can skipper a Mirror at 10 or 70 and crew it at virtually any age. It is a stable and easy to sail dinghy with the benefit of a full suite of sails. Yet whilst anyone can sail it, it takes a very good sailor to sail it well.
The Mirror is what is known as an international class. This means that Mirrors are sailed around the world and there State and National Championships every year as well as a World Championship every second year. These are great opportunities for the keen sailors to enjoy higher-level competition.
The British have nominated the Mirror as one of only a small number of Royal Yachting Association Pathway Training Classes which provide a direct route to Youth and Olympic training programs.
Many parents who sailed as children are returning to sailing and introducing their children to sailing through the Mirror. As a result there are many parent-child combinations as well as siblings sailing together on Mirrors ..... and don’t forget, also plenty of kids just having fun sailing with a friend. The adults compete against the youngsters and don’t the kids love beating them!
What is a Mirror?
The Mirror is a 3.3m long sailing dinghy sailed by 2 persons (a skipper and crew). It has 3 sails – a mainsail, a jib and a spinnaker or what we refer to as a full suite of sails. Yachts of all sizes have these 3 types of sail so if you can sail a Mirror you should be able to sail almost anything.
First designed in the early 1960’s there have been over 70,000 Mirrors built around the world. It has been updated over the years to the point that it is now a thoroughly modern fibreglass sailing dinghy incorporating a full alloy rig and centre sheeting.
It is sailed by adults or children new to sailing, young sailors transitioning from Optimists, Minnows etc, and by parents with their children.
Breeding Ground For Champions
You don’t have to be a champion athlete to be a sailing champion. Whilst it can be sailed and enjoyed by anyone, the Mirror class has also been the breeding ground for many champion Australian sailors. Australian Mirror World Champions are Paul Eldrid (1987, Ireland) who went on to be runner up in the 420 in 1990 and Tom King (1991, Holland) who in 2000 claimed an Olympic Gold Medal in the 470. Australian runners up include David Graney (1987) Mark Padgett (1999), Torvar Mirsky (2001) and Nick Davis (2007).
Reigning 49er World Champion and Olympian Ben Austin also entered the sport through the Mirror as did 2008 Olympic 470 Gold Medallist Tessa Parkinson. Tessa started sailing as an eight year old in Mirrors and her first championships were the Western Australian States when she was eleven. Her first Worlds were the Mirror Worlds in Ireland in 2001 and only 7 years later Tessa was an Olympic gold-medallist. 2009 World 29er champion from Perth, Steven Thomas also sailed a Mirror at the same World Championships as Tessa.
In resounding support for the class Perth’s own international young gun Torvar Mirsky said, “Mirrors, for me were the building blocks of my sailing career. I learnt to sail in Mirrors! I think it is important to sail a good youth dinghy class while you are growing up. Mirrors are a great boat to learn all the “ropes”. The racing is always close and the world championships always produce some champion sailors.”
How Do I Get Started?
You will find that both the Mirror Association and sailing clubs are extremely helpful in getting you started or letting you try your hand at Mirror sailing. There are many clubs throughout Perth and Regional WA where the Mirror is sailed. As it is expanding all the time the best way to find a club close to you is in the website Contacts section.
Most clubs have loan boats you can try or rent before deciding to buy a Mirror. The association keeps a register of boats for sale (also check out the website classifieds) and is also happy to offer advice on what to look for when buying a Mirror.
Getting started in something new like sailing can be daunting, so for an obligation-free sail to try out a Mirror contact any of the the MCAWA Committee or club contacts. You’ll be under no pressure to keep going and we’ll try to answer all your questions. We just make it as re- laxed and simple as possible to try it out.
More questions, want to find out more? We are here to help.