Lessons of the Sabot Dinghy

Steve Hunt applies his self-help skills to his Sabot. His methodical approach to understanding the nuances of the classic Southern California dinghy allowed him to better understand what is fast in certain conditions.

Steve Hunt applies his self-help skills to his Sabot. His methodical approach to understanding the nuances of the classic Southern California dinghy allowed him to better understand what is fast in certain conditions. (Stacy Childers/)

This past spring, I started ­sailing a Naples Sabot, which is a Southern California kids’ boat, somewhat like an Opti. There have always been adults, as well as kids, in this class, but when the pandemic hit, a lot of other adults jumped into the class, if nothing else, just to get on the water. As a result, San Diego YC’s Monday night fleet ­rapidly grew to around 25 very ­competitive boats.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Sabot, it’s an 8-foot, 95-pound cat-rigged dinghy, with a leeboard hanging off on the starboard side. They’ve been around since 1946. I didn’t sail Sabots or Optis growing up, so this was new territory for me—and light-years from the big J/70, Etchells and Melges 20 programs I’ve been involved in lately…

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