2010 Best Boats Dinghy: Topaz
We were impressed by the potential of the 12 foot Topaz dinghy as well as by its existing features. The boat has developed quickly into an active racing class in Europe and it could do the same here, given proper organization and promotion.
The Topaz is a generation beyond fiberglass in construction. The hull is rotomolded of polyethylene, a process that's expensive to set up initially but cheap to run, with the cost dropping rapidly as more boats are sold. Uniquely, the hull is double-molded, with a bonded layer of foam between the two layers. This adds rigidity and flotation all at once, while keeping the weight down. At 132 pounds, this will be an easy hull to move, store or cartop.
There are four variants of the Topaz. The Uno is a simple entry-level catboat with 60 square feet of sail on an unstayed mast, suitable for casual daysailing. Add a jib and you have the Uno Plus with 79 square feet. That's just right for a couple of kids or one average adult. In a breeze, the boat will plane if you don't overload it. For more power, the Topaz Race version has a larger sloop rig (93 square feet) and epoxy laminate rudder blade. If you're strong enough to handle it, the Race X version has a stayed mast, Mylar full-battened sail and asymmetric spinnaker which will up the area to 180 square feet downwind. That's a pretty hot boat.
Want more? The Topaz Tres carries a single-spreader rig, a reefing main, a furling jib and a spinnaker on a sprit. To hold all this upright, there's a trapeze for the crew. If this doesn't get your hormones pumping, you need some sort of medical infusion. For more information, visit topazsailing.com
LOA: 12ft 6in
Beam: 4ft 9in
Displacement: 132 lbs.
Sail area: 180 sq. ft.
Design: Rob White