International Mirror Class Association of Tasmania.
The Origin and Development of the Mirror Dinghy.
The Mirror Dinghy originated in England in 1963, after the Daily Mirror newspaper conducted a competition for the design of a sailing craft that would be popular for use by all ages, easy to build and easy to transport.
Jack Holt, the renowned yacht designer, together with his colleague Barry Bucknell, submitted the winning design which incorporated the new (at the time) stitch-and-glue method of construction.
The Mirror Newspaper then set up an organisation to market and promote the boat in the UK. All boats had to be built from a standard kit supplied by a licensed “ kit manufacturer”, thereby ensuring the one-design nature of the craft. The newspaper proprietors saw this as an excellent advertising medium and they provided staff to control the development of the class. As copyright holders, the Daily Mirror maintained firm control of the class until 1987 when a formal world organisation was established.
Popularity of the class among a wide cross-section of ages resulted in a rapid spread throughout the UK and overseas. By 1970, over 15,000 boats had been built throughout the world, most being in the UK, but 2,000 were in Australia. There are now over 71,000 built throughout the world.
In 1987 control of the class passed to the newly formed International Mirror Class Association under the leadership of two Tasmanians and President and Secretary. For the first time, a properly formulated constitution was developed and agreed upon internationally, and the rules and measurements were refined to meet IYRU requirements. This lead to the class being formally accepted by the IYRU in 1989 as an International Class under their jurisdiction. At this stage the Daily Mirror withdrew its involvement.
Development in Australia
As already indicated, the Mirror quickly became the most popular sailing dinghy in Australia. By 1980 over 5,000 had been built here, after Frank Buxton of Victoria imported the first kit in 1964. Frank, an ex naval officer and businessman, then 45 years of age and with a family of six, selected the Mirror Dinghy as the best small boat suited for family enjoyment. And so it has become to many thousands of families since.
In Tasmania from 1966 onwards, Mirrors developed steadily, first at Montrose Bay Yacht Club and then at nine other clubs throughout the State. In 1967-68, the first Tasmanian Mirror State Titles were conducted. The first National Championships were held in Tasmania in 1973/74, and following year two Tassie boats travelled to Victoria to contest the Nationals.
Since then Tasmania has become recognised as the leader at National level with Mike Adams, Nick Rogers, David Graney, Steve McElwee and Mark Padgett Mark Barrington and David Moore winning national titles, as well as many others finishing in the top 10 placings. Many of these sailors have gone on to do well in other classes.
The first World Championships were held in Holland in 1976, where only two Australian crews participated. Titles were held every three years until 1995, when the frequency was changed to every two years. National teams are limited in size on a pro rata basis, with the host country having a greater entitlement. There is a ceiling of 100 on the total number of entries.
From 1983 onwards, the International Mirror Class of Australia resolved to send a full team of five boats to World Championships. Team selection is always on the basis of performance at National Titles and Tasmania has always had good representation, due in no small part to our philosophy of sharing knowledge.
In 1983 Mitch Ranson of Launceston finished in second place.
In Ireland in 1987, Australia gained the first four placings with Paul Eldred, W.A., Dave Graney (Tas.), Dean Dixon, W.A., and Nick Rogers, Tas.
In 1991, Tom King from Victoria won the World Championships. Tom moved into 470s and in went on to win the World Championships and the Gold Medal at the Olympic Games. Also, a former UK champion, Ian Walker, won the Silver Medal in the Star Class.
In 1999, in South Africa, Mark Padgett ran a very close second and Norm Deane and Jenny Graney, won the Masters Title for the second time. Mark consequently was awarded the Tasmanian Sailor of the Year and subsequently went into 470s to represent Australia in the world titles.
In 2001, in Ireland, Torvar Mersky from Western Australia finished 2nd.
In 2003 the International Mirror Class of Tasmania hosted the World Titles at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, and David Moore of Tasmania finished in 2nd position.
In 2007 in South Africa, Nick Davis and John Collover of W.A. finished in 2nd position.
The International Mirror continues to appeal to sailors of all ages as a craft that encourages family participation in an environment of enjoyment, whilst offering opportunities for sailors to attain the highest levels in their sport. The sharing of the knowledge of experienced sailors with those less experienced is common in the class in Australia. It helps learners and increases the level of comradeship.
The loose-footed mainsail gives an added degree of flexibility of settings, and having a spinnaker enables all aspects of sailing to be learnt. Recently the International Rules of the class have been modified to include the use of the Bermudan Rig as well as the traditional gaff rig.