A few months ago, SAIL ran a story in which we considered exactly what it is that makes for a great small boat. And as fate would have it, the Topaz Argo from the UK’s Topper International meets an awful lot of the standards we came up with. Fast, well mannered, easy to sail and good looking, this is the kind of a boat that will appeal to sailors of all ages and backgrounds. Better still, because it is built using Topper’s proprietary TRILAM rotomolding technique—which sandwiches a foam core between and inner and out skins of super tough Metalicene polyethylene—the boat is virtually unsinkable and more than up to the task of withstanding years of use and abuse.
Like the venerable Flying Scot, the boat is exceedingly stable for its 14ft 4in LOA, thanks to an aggressive chine and a generous 6ft of beam that also provides for plenty of sail-carrying ability. The rig has been configured for easy singlehanding, but the boat can also be raced by a crew of two, and there is plenty of room in the cockpit for three or even four sailors, making it an excellent trainer. For those in search of more horsepower on the racecourse, a “Sport” version is available with a single trapeze and A-sail flown from a sprit. Additional touches include a super-slick spinnaker launch and retrieval system, molded-in handholds beneath the gunwale for hauling the 243lb hull around before and after sailing, and a nifty channel in the chine designed to further reduce the spray flying up into the crew’s faces. The centerboard and rudder are both fabricated in epoxy: clearly this boat is more than just a learner’s toy.
For years—since the advent of yachting, really—it’s been all too evident that just about anyone can create a high-octane sailing beast that will thrill its crew when the wind is up. Far more challenging, however, is a boat that can give its crews a thrill while not scaring the wits out of less experienced sailors. The Topaz Argo is one of those rare boats that not only does both, but does both well. Let’s hope we see more of these fine little boats on this side of the Atlantic.