Bringing the TBYC ‘Oppie’ fleet back up to spec


Over the past 20 years, Thorpe Bay Yacht Club (TBYC) has successfully used the Optimist dinghy as an introductory training craft for Cadet Weeks and for the first stages of Sail Training. In this ‘Your Project’, TBYC’s Toby Speller tells us about the recent renovation work of their ‘Oppie’ fleet.

TBYC has acquired ex-RYA training fleet boats of both polypropylene construction and GRP. These boats are used extensively throughout the seasons. Over the New Year of 2016, a plan was formulated to once again bring the TBYC ‘Oppie’ fleet back up to spec, with 12 fully functional boats.  

oppie fleet

The fleet of boats were each surveyed for hull damage and assessed as to what could be economically repaired. This resulted in five GRP hulls all needing various degrees of repair. Unfortunately, two polypropylene hulls were deemed to be scrap due to prolonged storage and the effects of UV light on the hull skins.

The five GRP hulls were moved to the rear of the Clubhouse, where the hulls were cleaned down and stripped of all fittings. We utilised the Sail Training Room as a workshop during the dark winter evenings in order to progress the work and left the major preparations for our Saturday morning sessions.

boat repairThe repairs required were mainly boat-to-boat impact damage around the gunwhales, bow corners and transom corners, plus some general crazing probably caused by the enthusiastic Royal Tournament race during Cadet Week!

The work we carried out included the following:

  • Assessing the damage
  • Preparing the affected area with the help of an angle grinder
  • Adding epoxy using gaffer tape as a loose mould
  • Adding the magic ingredient of ‘peel ply’ over the surface on lay-up to give good compression, exclude air pockets and give a good key for surface finishing
  • Repairing holes and battle scars ready for finishing
  • Adding hard-wearing flow-coat to the surface following the structural epoxy repairs, to give a nice smooth white surface
  • A new coat of non-slip on the interior floor surface
  • Rudder and daggerboard refurbishment
  • New sails/re-rigging
  • New trollies

We’d like to say a huge thank you to our ‘Composites Guru’, David Johnson, for the excellent advice at the start of the project; to West System International for the kind donation of epoxy resin materials; and to CYB based on Canvey Island who supplied all the flow-coat materials.



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