Boats

2011 Best Boats Best Dinghy: Topaz TAZ

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Although it can be easily singlehanded, the 9ft 8in TAZ, from Topper International, can handle an adult and child, making it ideal for training or parent/offspring daysails.

Better still, this is a boat with a Bermudian rig that both prepares beginners for the rigs they will be handling as adolescents and adapts to their needs as they develop as sailors. Specifically, the basic rig flies a 48ft2 main, while a higher-performance “race” version includes an 11ft2 headsail. Combine the race rig with the TAZ’s slippery hull form (with a true “pointy bow instead of a square one” as one young sailor described it to us), and flared topsides that cry out for aggressive hiking, and you have a boat that will keep kids excited for years.

The TAZ weighs just 88 pounds and features Topper’s Trilam construction, in which a foam core is incorporated during the rotomolding process to create a hull that is stiff, light and durable. The TAZ is so buoyant that the cockpit stays well out of the water when the boat is capsized, making it a piece of cake to get it back on its feet again.

For decades, designers and boatbuilders have been striving to create a dinghy to challenge or at least join the ubiquitous Optimist as the trainer of choice. With the creation of the TAZ, Topper International may have done it. For more information, visit topazsailing.com

SPECS

LOA: 9ft 8in LWL: 9ft 8in BEAM: 15ft 11in DRAFT: 3ft 11in WEIGHT: 88lb SAIL AREA: 47ft

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