the 29er, to the MUSTO Skiff
By Daniel Henderson
Photo Tania Samus.
When most people look at the MUSTO Skiff,
they think you need 4 arms and super hero abilities
to sail it. The MUSTO Skiff is the fastest single handed
trapeze asymmetric dinghy in the world. It may sound
pretty hard to gybe the kite, steer smoothly through
manoeuvres, and get the main sail across without going
for a swim, but I am here to tell you that coming from
a class such as the 29er, it will give you a great platform
to join the fastest single handed trapeze dinghy in
the world, that is fully ISAF world recognised.
history of 29er sailing started in 2005 as a crew for
David Hopper. We travelled the world doing events in
glorious locations such as San Francisco and Denmark.
Being a crew taught me to improve the key attributes
such as balance and trimming that I would need when
I moved in to the MUSTO Skiff. After a year or so crewing
the 29er, I decided that I wanted to spend some time
sitting at the back of the boat helming, which is where
I felt my strongest. I helmed the 29er for a year which
was my first experience of helming a fast skiff style
My home club of Thorpe Bay in Essex had
a growing fleet of MUSTOís at the time that I was looking
to change classes. However when looking at the MUSTO
Skiff fleet around 2007, the average age in the fleet
was around 42. Now, when you look at this as a 16 year
old, it can be quite daunting to think that you will
loose all of your friends that are around your age,
and go in to a class with a reasonably high average
age. However, I looked at it as a way of learning from
a group of sailors that had obviously had a lot of experience
over their years, from sailors such as Richard Stenhouse,
who was ranked at the top of the Finn class for a number
of years, and also went to the Olympics. In 2009, the
largest age category was 30-34. This shows that the
average age is falling quite dramatically.
In September 2007, I turned up to the Tide Ride at Hayling
Island, which was combined with the 29ers, B14ís, 700ís,
and I14ís. Before that day, I had only sailed the boat
once and didnít have a clue what tensions and mast rake
I would need; only being 65Kg at the time. As I started
to unpack my boat, a number of MUSTO sailors helped
me sort out the things that I was having problems with.
On my first race at the Tide Ride, I finished 2nd, just
beating Richard Stenhouse, the MUSTO Skiff guru.
Looking over the two boats, the 29er is slightly more
unstable than the MUSTO, and where as when the 29er
sails in to a lull, the crew has got to be quite fast
to respond, the MUSTO carries all of its power in the
last 1-2 inches of the main sheet, so when you sail
into a lull, you can afford to keep your body weight
out by grinding on the main.
As for the body weight needed, you can sail the MUSTO
from around 65kg up to about 100kg, so there is a very
large weight range in the class.
After I joined the MUSTO class, a few 29er sailors followed
pursuit to also conquer the MUSTO. Tom Wright, a former
29er crew had never helmed a boat prior to getting in
the MUSTO. He has shown that probably going from crewing
the 29er, to the MUSTO is the more logical transition.
This was also shown by Nick Hollis, who was formerly
ranked 2nd in the world in the 29er as a crew. There
is a growing youth class in the MUSTO, and every event
has separate prizes for the youth class as it is growing
When most people grow or become
too old to sail the 29er, the usual route is up in to
the 49er, the Olympic two man skiff. People forever
ask me why I decided to go in to the MUSTO Skiff, rather
than the 49er. There are a few clear cut reasons why
I chose the MUSTO over the 49er. After a few years in
a two man skiff, it became apparent that two person
sailing wasn't for me. You have to share equal commitments
and both gel to give the best performance. Its hard
to find someone that you get along with both on and
off the water.
The final major reason for going into the MUSTO, was
my choice of further education. In 2009 I chose to go
to Portsmouth University to study Water Sports Science
and Development. Because I knew I was going to go to
university, I felt that having the MUSTO Skiff was a
better option because it means I can go sailing when
I want to, and not have to worry about travelling to
where my crew would be to go training.
From the first race at Hayling up till the present day,
I have always believed that you donít have to be Super
Man to sail the MUSTO, it just takes practice, some
time on the water, and a little more practice to get
to the front of the fleet.
Webmasters note: Dan has twice finished 2nd
overall at the nationals and has been UK Youth National
Champion (under 21) 4 times !!!