Crew: 2 man crew.
Dimensions: 4.75 meters in length and ±120kg.
Sail Area: Main & Jib: 6.78 square meters, spinnaker is 5.57 square meters.
Class: Restricted (hull shape remains the same from year to year)
Characteristics: Stable and easy to sail and suitable for family.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
The designer's declared intention was to provide a boat that was roomy, stable and easy to sail, suitable for family cruising yet with a performance to put it on close terms with all but the out and out racing craft. Since it was first exhibited in 1956 the Kestrel has consistently shown that it more successfully combines these apparently conflicting requirements of a stable roomy cruising boat and a fast high performance racing dinghy than any other recognised class design. Its well mannered sailing characteristics and roomy cockpit with a large stowage area under the foredeck make it an excellent cruising day sailer which is well suited for family outings. At the same time it is one of the fastest non trapeze racing dinghies capable of tremendous performance off the wind and an almost uncanny ability to climb to windward of other classes particularly in light winds.
The Kestrel seems to go best in open water with winds between force 2 and 3 both to windward and on the run. However, the combination of a stable yet easily driven hull form, moderate to large sail area and lack of any vice in handling, make it possible to achieve good results in almost any wind condition on all points of sailing. At first sight the Kestrel does not look built for speed with its high freeboard and well rounded stem. A more discerning examination will reveal some other secrets as:
1. The sloping profile of the stem which, while it may sacrifice some waterline length, gains greatly in improving the steering qualities particularly downwind in rough conditions.
2 . The depth of the hull below the mast and firm bilges which contribute to the windward ability. This is a careful compromise between the very simple semicircular shape which is the optimum for speed (but which lacks stability) and a square or hard chine which has good initial stability (but large wetted area and therefore increased drag).
3 . The combination of a strongly built bow section, the high freeboard, the moderately fine entry and the well rounded bilges together with the long run aft, produce a hull shape capable of coping with rough sea conditions quite manageably.
The Kestrel was the first sailing boat to be built in the UK entirely of glass reinforced plastics. The Kestrel didn’t really prosper in the plastic form until John Gmachs firm took over the building and created high quality boats for 25 years until Martin Services took over production in 1988. The Kestrel was designed and always intended to be a boat of reasonably high performance, but not a flat-out speed-at-all-costs type. She was intended to appeal to people who wished to race with their families sometimes, and to give them a chance to compete on even terms without needing to have crews of extreme athletic ability.
There are two base designs available for the main and Genoa.
Coastal race - A fuller design to improve power through waves with a slightly greater level of twist to make the sails not only faster in these conditions but also easier to use leaving you more time to make those tactical decisions.
Inshore race - A flatter design with a straighter leech to give a greater performance on flat water.