There has been dinghy sailing in the bay since long before the construction of the barrage and the formation of the bay. A visit to Mermaid quay on a Wednesday evening or Sunday morning is enhanced by the white sails and spinnakers of small sailing dinghies. It is true that they enhance the environment for those supping coffee on the harbour front or walking the barrage. What is not obvious is the competitive nature of those taking part! Forget the pleasant banter floating across the water, there are no prisoners taken here.
The racing originates from the two principal sailing clubs in the bay, Cardiff Yacht Club and Cardiff Bay Yacht Club. Despite their names they have significant dinghy fleets, CYC's fleet is enhanced by the university sailing club. It has to be said that the level of sailing from the academic fraternity is of a very high standard with a collection of RS 200's that are always at the front of the fleet! Add to that the outstanding performances put in by the RS 800 and their huge spinnaker and they are more than a match for CBYC.
The principal dinghy in this fleet is the Flying Fifteen, being a classic boat designed by Uffa Fox (who used to sail early boats with Prince Charles); it is not therefore surprising that the main components of that fleet are of the Classic sub class, though there is a smattering of boats from the silver class. There is an annual regatta for these superb little keelboats, who raced in the Bristol Channel when the Bay was a tidal mud flat.
A spirit of cooperation exists in the bay with the two clubs combining twice a week to race. The rescue boat duties and race officiating is shared between the two clubs giving maximum opportunities to race.
Annualy there is a dinghy race for the hardy on New Years Day. The Two Rivers Race combines the River Taff and The River Ely as part of the course, all sizes of dinghy participate, with the Flying Fifteens always having a good showing!
Single handers include the laser in its guise as the laser radial and standard laser. You can even find a Rooster 8.1 sailed even in decent breezes, which given the size of the sail on such a small boat is no small achievement. Recent commercial antics involving Laser mean that we may have to rename this highly popular dinghy the Kirby Torch! A couple of phantoms race regularly, together with another Uffa Fox design, the firefly.
Double handers are now dominated by Laser 2000s; these have also been subject to a recent name change now being known as the 2000 class. They are present in both clubs and with their asymmetric spinnakers are easy to sail.