Which design of sailing dinghy weighs only 50 kg, can be sailed with one, two, three or even four people aboard, can be sailed with a cat rig or a sloop rig and carries a spinnaker, can be rowed very comfortably, can be powered by an outboard motor, can be raced in State, National and World championships and can be easily and cheaply built from a kit or bought second hand for less than $1,000?

Oh, yes, and can be sailed from England to the Black Sea while living aboard?

There is only one answer to this lengthy question; the Mirror Dinghy.

For our May sailing day at APYC the call went out to gather Mirror dinghies and their owners and followers for a day of "Reflections on the Mirror dinghy". My first peep out the window at 7am on this day revealed a cold wet and generally miserable weather scene. Still, sailing is all about getting wet so with raincoat donned, the trailer was hitched up and we were off to the lake. The stalwarts of our club, Chris Kelly and Penny Braybrook were there early to ensure everything was set up for members and guests, and to welcome everyone with conversation and plenty of refreshments from the galley.

Five Mirror dinghies were rigged outside APYC as the rain eased and a light north wind spread across the lake. In addition, Jim Stockton launched his double ended rowing skiff and the St Ayles skiff crew from Mordialloc Yacht Club launched their boat for a vigorous warm up row from the ramp around to APYC.

In the middle of the day the clouds lifted a little and we even had brief moments of sunshine as the five Mirrors gently moved across the northern end of the lake.
The five Mirrors in attendance were:-

* Alan Murfett's No. 30513. A fully restored boat donated to Alan by fellow WBA member David Gibson as a "project" that needed a new gunwhale and repairs to nearly every panel. The boat is now in very good condition and was used by Alan's grandchildren over the summer. The sails for this boat were given to David Gibson by Alan Chinn. His legacy continues in so many ways.

* Peter Townshend's No. 16069. One of the early Mirrors in Australia and still sailing. Peter sails at Rhyll YC and made the trip to Melbourne for the event.

* Alex Morton's No. 68194 "Boadicea". A boat set up with the latest racing gear including the bermudan rig (not gunter). The only Mirror to set a spinnaker on the day.

* Ruth Morton's No 30353 "Oops not another one" the name is a reference to the family's weakness for adding to their collection of Mirrors (they have 5). The boat is in good sailing condition, but more work is planned.

* Leigh McNolty's No. 57617 "Kokomo" The boat I have owned since 1997. I have tried to keep it set up as a kit Mirror would have been in the late 1970's when it was built. The original Jack Holt sails are still in great condition.

The WBA is fortunate to have a number of members and supporters with a Mirror dinghy somewhere in their past or even their present. Long term member, Alex Pigdon and his son Stewart are restoring a Mirror and should have it ready for the water in the summer. season. They were looking closely at how the boats were fitted out to assist them with their project. Past president Geoff Carroll dropped by with an article to add to the memorabilia collection and had stories to tell of his early days of dinghy sailing.

Ex Mirror owner and leader of the dinghy cruising group, Gary Hardy, stayed for a while to take a few photos and admire the collection of Mirror dinghies.

Peter and Kirsty Batchelor shared lunch with us and spent some time looking at the assembled Mirrors and other boats. They are about to move house to a waterfront location so it was good to see them before the logistical challenge commences.

David Lawry and Ian Knell, regulars at the Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta, heard about our event through the social media networks. They were involved in the beginnings of the class in the 1960s. David, as a very successful racing skipper, remembers when 80 Mirrors would regularly line up for the weekly Saturday Club race at APYC. He spoke about State championships with 150 entries.

Ian Knell worked with Blockey the boat builder, the original agent for the class. He remembers seeing the Bell Woodworking kit arrive from England to be used as the template for the kits and boats they sold. Ian built over 30 Mirrors in his workshop. The kits would be dropped off in his driveway so he could start work on them for the numerous eager buyers.

A display of Mirror memorabilia was set up in the APYC hall with contributions from a number of participants. The instruction books for building the kit and the instruction books for rigging and sailing the boat were of particular interest. Sandy McKinnon's book "The Unlikely Voyage of Jack De Crow" is a well-known favourite among Mirror sailors telling the story of his voyage from England to the Black Sea aboard his Mirror named Jack de Crow. There were books on racing the Mirror and magazine articles from the long history of the class. A tea towel with a Mirror dinghy theme added to the collection of Mirrorphenalia.

In addition to all the Mirror dinghy activity we had a visit from the Mordialloc Sailing Club and their St Ayles skiff group to liven up the lake with the noise and energy of four rowers and a helmsman carving a wake through the placid lake. They were definitely making much more pace than the sailing boats. Geoffrey Daniels from MSC organised a number of their members to come along and take hold of an oar in the boat at various times during the day. Some of our WBA members also took a turn at the oars.

The rain returned at the end of the day as we were unrigging and packing up to give all our gear a rinse. Despite the less than ideal conditions we agreed that the day had been successful in bringing together a varied collection of Mirror dinghies and inspired us to keep them going and spread the word about how Mirrors are such versatile, long lasting, practical, cheap and beautiful boats. (The last point is sometimes debated.)

We felt we had played a small part in keeping the class alive and had continued its history.

Leigh McNolty  
Photos by Peter Batchelor, Leigh McNolty, Penny Braybrook