Transitioning Into The Class

The best advice is to seek out a boat & get a sail in one, and this is one of the reasons that we have association boats available for use by young sailors looking to transition into the class. (Charter a boat HERE).
The 420 is a stable boat to sail which planes upwind easily and provides a high performance sailing experience that is exhilarating. The rig is particularly adjustable so that light weight crew partnerships can go out in surprisingly strong breezes, possibly even stronger winds than they would be happy with in junior classes!  A sub 45kg sailor can right a 420 from turtled after capsize which is not the case with all youth boats and importantly the built in buoyancy tanks make the boat very safe even when inverted keeping the hull floating above the water.

Second hand boat availability is good with competition in the new boat market from a variety of boat manufacturers. (-Here is a link to boat and equipment for sale ). There are also several specialist chandlers who are happy to offer advice. The 420 is also an extremely affordable choice.


When should I transition?

There is no single answer to this question; it comes down to each individual sailor and their circumstances.  Many junior classes are recommending that sailors aged 13/14 start to consider their next boat; many sailors aged 13 successfully sail their junior boat whilst starting their transition into a youth class.  Some sailors find that they are too big for their junior class boat by age 13 or 14 and make a move to a youth boat early whilst others wait until later; when you should transition is individual to each sailor but what we will say is that the sooner you start your transition, the easier it will be.


How big do I need to be?

Successful pairings have ranged form about 110kg to 135kg.  The RYA website in the UK suggests that “the ideal combination weight is 130kg with the helm weighing between 50-60kg and the crew at 60-70kg” but this is only guideline and many pairings when first joining the class are below these levels.  The female/male ratio varies but in early 2022  56% of the sailors were boys and 46% girls.  Most sailors are in the 14-19 age range, but in other countries the class has many older competitors.  The 420 rig is very easy to control and adjust, so can be optimised for light or heavy pairings, allowing them to be competitive in all wind conditions.

Finding a crew

Double handed sailing isn’t always easy and that’s not the on-water-activity; finding a suitable partnership is often the biggest challenge, especially if sailors and parents have spent all their sailing experience to date in single handed boats.  Some people are really lucky to find a partnership that is local to them but many successful partnerships have worked where the crew and helm live a good distance from each other.  The key to finding the right combination is to stay open minded and don’t get hung up on finding your perfect partner from the start – once you are in a double handed boat it can often feel like “speed dating” as crews/helms regularly switch, not because they have fallen out but for the good of the boat if the sailors have different levels of experience and would benefit from a change of partnership.

Probably the most important parts of a successful double handed boat is actually how the parents get on!  There are many ways to make a successful partnership work; no one way is the right way – you need to find your way.  Speak to others within the class to understand what they did and take the pieces that work for you and your sailor.


So once you have decided to become a 420 sailor….

What a great choice!  The experience of sailing a 420 will not disappoint and our website is designed to help you access as much information as possible. The key to enjoying the class is joining our open training and taking part in events.

Although parents are often superfluous to requirements for most youth sailors some parents do enjoy the buzz around the boat park and do tend to stay around, there are shore-based duties to cover and inevitable boat repairs to undertake. There is also the social side of meeting other parents and learning from their experiences in the class.

The overall feel of our 420 events are that they are relaxed and enjoyable for sailors and parents.

What next?

Check out our website and contact us for assistance in getting started in the class.

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