Acquiring a Mirror Dinghy

The first thing to decide is whether you want a brand new boat, or will you be happy with a used boat. Maybe a fresh coat of varnish is all you need for that new boat smell!

New Boats

Photo: Mirror Under Construction with Side Panels Attached
Photographer: Lorne Bellamy The copyright for the design of the International Mirror class is owned by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Under ISAF rules, new boats must be built from a kit from an ISAF licenced supplier, either by the kit purchaser or by the kit builder. Mirror Sailing Development is the only kit builder licenced by ISAF in North America at the moment. Boats or kits can also be imported from licenced builder abroad, but this can be quite expensive, as most of the licenced kit builders are in the UK or Australia.

Purchasing a complete ready to sail boat new from the kit builder is the most expensive option, and few people opt for this route: it is generally much cheaper to find a good second hand boat.

Building the boat from the kit is cheaper than purchasing it ready built, and is part of the Mirror tradition: most Mirrors were built from kits by their original owners. There's a certain amount of pride in sailing a boat you built yourself! The Mirror was designed to be an easy project for the first time boat builder, and no elaborate carpentry skills or equipment are necessary.

If your curious as to what is involved, check out some of the websites Mirror builders have posted. Andy Mac, a first time Mirror builder, has has posted an interesting account of his experiences building Mirror 70021 Prime Time and completing it just in time for the 2000 Australian Mirror Championships! Richard Larson has almost finished Mirror 70369, while Mark and Shawn have just started building Mirror 70407 (both these boats are MSD kits).

Used Boats

Photo: Stripping the Old Finish isn't Always this Easy!
Photographer: Gwen ScornsA used boat is probably the easiest way to get into Mirror sailing. Used Mirrors are regularly available. If you are in (or near) Ontario, keep a watch on our Mirrors For Sale page for used boats coming on the market.

If you're outside Ontario, try posting a message on the Mirror Discussion Forum or look for a local class association (see Mirror Dinghy Related Sites and Sources). Mirror class associations in many other countries run similar services.

There are two major categories of used Mirrors: boats in excellant condition and those needing significant repairs. Of course those in need of significant repairs will usually be less costly than those in pristine condition. Don't be put off merely because of the age of the boat: there are quite a few active OMDA members sailing boats over 30 years old (and winning races with them). In many cases the wood is still in good condition and some fresh paint and varnish is all they really need. The Mirror number of a used boat can be used to get a rough idea of its age.

The the UK Mirror Association has a page with some excellent advice on what to look for when considering a second-hand Mirror.

If you find a used boat that is missing some pieces, it may still be a worthwile buy if the price is right. Mirror Sailing Development should be able to supply the missing parts.