Minnow Buyers Guide

Where to buy a minnow

Used:
On this website is a for sale section, this is probably the best place to start as there is usually a wide variety of secondhand minnows available here.
 
Various sailing clubs have their own online or physical noticeboard listings of used boats. Gumtree and eBay are also options.

New:
You can buy a new fibreglass Minnow from the Victorian Minnow Association. The new fibreglass boat is made by Frecheville Heaney Boatbuilders in Paynesville. The cost fully rigged is $5,300. Email us at minnowsailing@gmail.com and we can confirm pricing and availability. The Minnow Association also can sell you a kit to build your own wooden minnow.
 
General price guidelines

Starter boat
Price Guide: Up to $1,500
 
In this price range you will find a wooden boat at least 8 to 10 years old. This would see the kids through from learning to sail their minnow in their first year to their first year starting to participate in novice club racing. At the upper end this boat would be appropriate even after novice fleet racing for the first year of open fleet racing. A cheap boat in this range can be a wise choice in green group as sometimes the kids can end up in a few on water collisions.
 
Racing Boat
Price Guide: $1,500 to $3,000
 
In this price range the boats should be appropriate for open fleet racing. The boats will be wooden or fibreglass/wooden combination such as the Boterill boats. Secondhand all fibreglass boats tend to be more than $3,000. A boat in this price range will probably have been raced previously. 
 
Top End Racing Boat
Price Guide: $3,000+
 
Boats in this category would typically be raced regularly in club races and regattas by kids towards the top of the open fleet. These boats could be fibreglass, or a wooden boat built to a very high level by a recognised boat builder, or a very new wooden boat built using the Minnow Association "Griffin" templates. The boat will likely have a history of good racing results if you are buying used. These boats may come with a spare sail as well as a trolley and cover.
 
Low Maintenance Boat
Modern fibreglass boats require less maintenance than wooden boats. Wooden boats tend to require repainting and varnishing every few years. There are not many all fibreglass boats on the secondhand market, although when they do come up they tend to be $3,500 and up. A new fibreglass boat can be ordered through the Victorian Minnow Association for $5,300.
 
Assessing the Condition of a Used Minnow
Obviously price is going to reflect condition, but there are a few things to check for while looking over a prospective minnow which include:
  • the condition of the paint and the varnish of the hull
  • whether there is any visible damage to the hull or evidence of poor repairs
  • the condition of the foils (centreboard and rudder)
  • does the hull have a self bailer and can it be opened and closed fairly easily?
  • condition of the ropes (main and halyard) and stays. Ropes are easy to replace, stays are a bit harder.
  • condition of the main block, does it still ratchet?
  • how used or worn does the sail look?
  • what is the condition of the mast and boom and the blocks attached to the boom?
  • check the condition of the trolley and cover
When was it built?
The hull number can be used as a guide because historically these numbers have been allocated sequentially. The allocation though often took place prior to construction (there are exceptions) so the actual completion dates can vary a lot as some boats were allocated numbers and completed in a very short period, and others may have taken years to finish. With those caveats in mind, here are some boat numbers with the (estimated) years they were launched to act as a rough guide:
#1217 - 2016
#1210 - 2015
#1202 - 2014
#1180 - 2013
#1173 - 2012
#1165 - 2011
#1160 - 2010
#1143 - 2009
#1106 - 2007
#1066 - 2006
#1001 - 2005?
#990 - 2004?
#920 - 1996?
#866 - 1989?
#707 - 1983?
 
What is the hull constructed of?
The two possible materials minnow hulls are made of are wood and fibreglass. Most minnows are made of all plywood. Starting from around 2000 there were are some made of a combination of fibreglass hull and wooden deck (usually made by "Botterill" and have sail numbers between 900 and 1100). Finally there are modern all fibreglass foam sandwich boats most of which have sail number 1180 or higher. All fibreglass boats with sail numbers of 1180 and up are out of a mould taken from the shape of a wooden boat #1106 "Griffin" made by Glen Collings in about 2008. The prevailing wisdom and the weight of results indicate is that this is a fast shape.

Fibreglass is lower maintenance than wood as it doesn't require regular painting or varnishing. Of course it's not indestructible and when it is damaged might require more specialised skills to repair than a wooden boat does. As a result it may not be a wise choice for a first year sailor when collisions tend to happen more often.

Wooden boats tend to require repainting and varnishing every few years to maintain their condition.

How competitive (fast) is it?
If your child will participate in club racing, particularly in open fleet racing, you may want to consider how competitive or fast the boat is. The difference in speed between the mid level wooden boats (say $1,500 ones) and the fastest $5,000 fibreglass boats actually isn't very much, the difference in a sailors ability is a far bigger factor in how fast they can get around a course. However you do tend to find that the best sailors tend to be the ones sailing the $3,000+ boats at the front of the fleet.
 
How much does it weigh?
Lighter weight is usually better. Both from a practical handling point of view to enable the kids to pull it around on a trolley easily and adults to lift it onto roof racks for transport. Also lighter is usually better for boat speed, although sometimes this is at the expense of downwind stability in heavy winds.

The minnow association have recently revised the minimum hull weight up from 20.25kg to 22.25kg for boats competing in regattas. This makes some of the older boats more competitive now with the newer fiberglass boats having to add on lead correctors to bring them up to the new minimum.

If the boat has been sailed in a recent nationals or state titles the boat will have been weighed and the owner hopefully remembers it.

Accessories?
Does it come with useful accessories such as a boat cover, spare sail, spare foils, foil cover, or beach trolley?
 
 
Additional Resources
Website: minnow.org.au
Newsletter: Sign up to our Minnow newsletter from the front page of our website minnow.org.au

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