At the club
The P Class is one of the options available to sailors as a next step after the Optimist, with most skippers making the transition between the ages of 14 and 15 years. The maximum age for competing in the P Class is 16 years. This class is helps young sailors to develop their knowledge and skills in sail trimming and boat handling.
The P Class offers a challenging platform on which to develop sailing skills. It is also very rewarding, as sailors learn the benefits of body position, boating handling, sail trim and rig tuning: aspects which are not as critical on the more stable and simply-rigged Optimist.
The number of P Class sailors has started to grow again around the country, although only a few sailors have transitioned to this class in recent years at WBBC club level. The club runs an active training programme for the sailors’ general development as well as their build-up towards the Nationals in January each year.
About the class
The P-Class was designed by New Zealander, Harry Highet, an engineer, as a simple vessel in which children and young people could learn to sail. It is a 2.13 metre long, single hull, single sail Bermuda rigged dinghy, and is designed to be sailed by one person. The bermudan rig took over from a gaff rig in the 1950s.
The first example appeared at Onerahi near Whangarei on New Year’s Day, 1920. However it was not until Highet and his family moved to Tauranga that the full potential of his design became apparent. Soon a fleet of a dozen or so boats were racing each weekend on Tauranga Harbour. The P-Class was initially known as the “Tauranga Class”. Boats carried the letter “P” on their sails, to indicate they were primary trainers.
By 1940, an Inter-Provincial Competition had been established for the P Class, but this was held only in 1940 and 1941, before lapsing for the rest of World War Two. The competition resumed in 1945, with sailors racing for the Tanner Cup, a trophy donated by Mr George Tanner. A separate Inter-Club competition for the Tauranga Cup began at about the same time. Both competitions are still held annually.