Prepping Your Boat For the 2022 Season

There’s nothing worse than having something go wrong with your boat when you’re out at sea - cutting your trip short and making any fixes a lot more difficult and time-consuming. This is why it’s always worth taking the time to prep your dinghy ready for the sailing season ahead as delaying any work can often end up being more expensive and could result in ruining your sailing plans for 2022.

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A great start is to write up a list of chores that you can complete on the boat, such as deep cleans and revamping the interior and exterior, and then one for work that will need to be done by a contractor or at a local chandlery. You can make a start on your list, however, bear in mind that there are certain times of the year when your local chandlery are particularly busy and you will need to consider lead times of three or four months for work to be completed. It’s definitely worth getting in there in plenty of time to ensure that your boat is prepped and ready for the sailing season in 2022.

As well as your personal list of checks for your own boat, there are a few standard checks that would be well-worth carrying out:

Deck and Hull

When looking at making repairs to your sailing dinghy, the deck and hull can often feature quite heavily. These areas are going to take the brunt of the wear and tear and will need to be thoroughly checked over to see where any issues may lie. You may find surface grazing and discolouration that need attention, there may also be cracks that need looking at and filling with gelcoat, as long as they’re not too deep. Make sure you check deck fittings aren’t too tight and causing damage, that any grazes on gunwales are attended to and always take advice if you’re not sure on how best to fix an issue. For example, cutting an inspection hole could actually weaken the boat and a simple filler job may be the best course of action.

It’s important to make sure that before any repairs take place, the boat’s surface has been correctly prepared, so sanding surfaces and checking any scratches that have been filled are now flush to the surface. At this point, you can then start to repaint and add the finishing touches to the boat’s surface. 

Mast and Booms

It’s important to give your aluminium mast a regular check to look for any signs of wear and tear. If a mast isn’t checked it may lead to extensive damage or even result in it breaking.  

It’s a good idea to start with the head sheave block to make sure it isn’t worn out and is rotating correctly, with no sign that the halyard isn’t going down the side of the sheave. Next check that the spinnaker halyard block (the same applies for the jib halyard block) - is it rotating properly, with the bearings still functioning?  Are there any signs of corrosion around screws or rivets, for example? It’s important to ensure that everything is tightened and can’t simply be unscrewed by hand. 

Corrosion can be a huge problem if left, so ensure that you check all areas for potential corrosion damage. These areas will include, shroud terminals, the spreader brackets (spreaders are often covered in tape which can hide problems, so it’s important to check them), the gooseneck will need a good check as it’s a high load area on the mast and it’s also worth checking any eyelets near the base of the mast. The base of the mast is an area that can become filled with sand and mud so it’s advisable to keep on top of cleaning this area. 

The boom will need to be cleaned regularly and it’s a good idea to use some metal polish to revive it to its original glory and keep it in good condition.

Foil Damage

To keep your foils in good working order, it’s the daggerboards and rudders that will need regular checks as they can suffer most from impact damage. Any maintenance that does need to take place, however, doesn’t need to be a big job as it’s possible to build them up with the help of specialised products, such as gelcoat filler and marine epoxy filler which can be power-sanded to shape and then painted the same colour.

Another area of potential concern for foils is the raising ropes, securing rope and shock cord on the centreboard, so these will need to be checked and evaluated.

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Ensuring that all rigging on board is fulfilling its potential is essential. Checks should be carried out to see that the jib halyard, outhaul, downhaul and kicking strap ropes are clean and functioning properly. Are the halyard wires in good working condition? Are the mainsheet and jib sheets in good order? Is the running rigging for the spinnaker in order? It’s also worth noting any changes that need to take place inside of the cockpit as well, for example, are the toestraps and shock cord systems set up correctly and functioning properly?

If you find that there is rigging and ropes that need replacing, find reputable retailers to source your materials, such as Pinbax and Sailing Fast and if you’re not completely sure you can complete the rigging improvements or replacements yourself, then seek advice or help to complete the work.


As well as keeping on top of boat care, it’s important not to forget about your trailer care. You’ll no doubt be using an un-braked trailer model for transporting your dinghy and these models are quite simple to deal with as they have fewer moving parts than other models.

The main things to check are the wheel bearings - these should be checked for any signs of wear and tear, such as rust or pitting. If these signs do show up on your checks then they will need to be replaced, checking that the other wheel fittings (washers, castle nuts etc.)  are in good working order as you go. 

Whilst the wheels are off, this is the ideal time to complete wheel checks. Are the tyres in a good condition or are there cuts, splits or excessive wear? It’s important to make sure you’re in line with the motoring regulations regarding wheel tread, by law it needs to be 2mm with at least ⅔ tread width.

The coupling should then be checked to make sure it’s working correctly, with a relatively tight connection, greased coupling cup and all moving parts lubricated for a better, smoother performance. 

The final trailer checks are usually to ensure that the nuts and bolts are all tight and fixed on correctly, lights are working, winch ropes are showing no signs of fraying and to give the trailer a good wash with soapy water to remove any salt deposits if it’s been immersed in saltwater.

These few steps can help you check over your sailing dinghy and associated equipment before heading out to sea but if you’re in any doubt when carrying out these steps, it’s always worth seeking advice from a professional or consulting your boat’s manual to ensure that all checks are carried out correctly.

Want to learn more about the ins and outs of dinghy racing? Watch our exclusive interview with National Champions Sam Whaley and Jack Graham-Troll to learn more about their journeys in this competitive industry.

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sam whaley and jack graham-troll

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