About the Sabre class
Welcome to the Sabre – one of Australia’s most popular single handed racing dinghies. At 3.7m in length, the Sabre is similar in length to the popular Laser class, although has a little less sail area. It is amazingly light-weight, with a minimum hull weight of just 41kg. The boat is easily launched single-handedly, with most boats using a beach trolley for easy storage, rigging and launching. The boats are easy to sail, and can offer lively performance in downwind planing conditions. They are also a comfortable boat to sail, with their deep cockpits and rounded side tanks. – this is a boat you sit in, not on.
The Sabres can be built in plywood, fibreglass, or fibreglass with plywood decks. They can be home built in plywood, professionally built and home painted and fitted-out; or fully professionally built. It is a ‘one-design’ class, with a series of measurement rules that ensure that one Sabre is the same as all the rest. The Sabres are an Australian class, and 1900 have been built so far.
Who can sail a Sabre ?
You will struggle to find a boat that can be competitively sailed by a more diverse range of people. In fact, Sabres are sailed by people from 14 to 80 in age; and in weights from 45 to 95kg. And don’t forget – you don’t need a crew – so you won’t be left on the beach when your crew can’t sail.
Unlike say the Laser class, the Sabre is not an Olympic class, and the less serious nature of the racing and the sailors reflects this. The Sabre class therefore appeals to the 99% of sailors who aren’t aspiring to the Olympics ! The Sabre with its hard chines was designed for Port Phillip Bay (and its signature ‘chop’), and this makes for greater stability, and a boat that rides waves and responds well. It is often noted that other key points in the Sabre’s favour are that it does not much require as much crew weight, strength or stamina as the Laser. Additionally, Sabre sailors are not as prone to lower back problems due to more upright position when hiking..
As you might have guessed then, that leaves a fairly large proportion of the population suited to the Sabre ! A couple of groups deserve special mention – teenagers and women. The Sabre over the years has proved to be a great boat for teenagers making their first move out of training classes like Minnows or Sabots once they reach say 50kg.. It’s also a great women’s boat – as with teenagers, it is a boat that isn’t going to over-power you.
So whether you have never sailed before, if you are coming back into sailing after a long break, you want to change gears after years in another class, or you just want great fleet racing – think Sabre.
And why just sit on the beach watching your kids or spouse sail!
What is the racing like ?
So why is Sabre racing so good, and why do we enjoy it so much ? There are quite a few factors that make all the difference when it comes to providing great sail racing.
We are a one-design class where it is the skill of the skipper that is the deciding factor. In turn, we sail as our own class, rather than in mixed-class fleets. This means that we enjoy great, close racing. Don’t under-estimate how enjoyable it is to participate in racing where you find yourself within a couple of boat lengths of other boats right around the course !
We offer amongst the biggest fleet sizes in Australia – with 100 boats for example taking part in the 2003/04 championships at Blairgowrie, and 95 boats in the Victorian championships.
Races are a mixture of ‘scratch’ and handicap – with the latter providing a means by which up & coming sailors can get some recognition for their achievements.
Never raced before ? We all started sometime – give it a try ! There is a broad range of experience across the fleet, and you’ll always find yourself competing against boats no matter what your standard.
And finally, we’re a friendly bunch – sailors socialise well before and after the race.
Where are Sabres sailed ?
The big three states for the Sabre are Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, with smaller fleets in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney. In Victoria there are large fleets at Black Rock in Melbourne and at Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula. Good sized Victorian fleets are also racing at Williamstown, Elwood, Sugarloaf, Albert Park, Mordialloc and McCrae.
In Adelaide, the home base is Brighton & Seacliff, and in Tasmania there are strong fleets at Lindisfarne and Midway Point in Hobart, and Deviot near Launceston. In Queensland, Cleveland and RQYS on Moreton Bay are home base; and a 20 boat fleet has recently been established in WA split between East Fremantle and perth Dinghy Sailing Club
In Victoria, a very popular event is the annual winter series, which runs between May and September. Races are held at a variety of clubs, with Albert Park Lake in Melbourne being the place for racing in the real depths of winter.
How do you buy a boat ?
Most people new to the class will start out with a second hand boat. Prices start at maybe just $1,000 for a boat with a lot of miles on the speedo, and climb to maybe $8,000 or more for a ‘late-model’ boat.
A great place to be looking for boats is the ‘for sale’ page on the Sabre Association website. sabre.org.au. Don’t forget the notice-boards at Sabre clubs. Try putting up a wanted to buy sign too if Sabres are scarce.
For new Sabres, you have lots of options. The Sabre website lists the contact details of several builders of new plywood and fibreglass boats. These can be supplied as hull only, or all the way to ‘ready to sail’ complete with trailer and beach trolley.
There is no clear outcome as to whether the plywood or the fibreglass boats are faster – so it comes down to personal preference.
The Sabre Class Association
The Association organises a national championship each year which rotates through Victoria, Tasmania, SA (Adelaide) Queensland, (Brisbane) and Perth. It is held at Xmas / New Year. Numbers range from 60 to 100 depending on the state.
There are also a state championship held in each state. Additionally, there is an an excellent coaching weekend at Black Rock in Vic in Oct, and a club-based teams event in late November. Championships are a superb opportunity to gain experience in bigger fleets, and they attract sailors across all skill levels (ie not just the hot-shots!). They also feature a series of championships within the championships such as the Juniors, Masters and Womens events, as well as Divisional sections.
How do you find out more ?
The Sabre website – sabre.org.au – contains a wealth of information on all things Sabre. Better still why not also come and have a chat with some Sabre sailors at one of the Sabre clubs ?