Assymetric option for the Vortex


If you own (or are considering) a Standard Vortex (i.e. one without an asymmetric spinnaker), it is worth considering what a kite could do for you...... The Asymmetric Kite adds a new and exhilarating downwind performance to this already wonderful boat. Smooth and fast upwind and now very fast and tactical downwind.


The asymmetric system was developed in 2004 for and on behalf of the Vortex Class Association by four times National Champion Keith Escritt. The system went through several design – test – modify cycles but the final version uses a retractable pole and overall weight has been kept to a practical minimum with the use of a carbon fibre composite pole and chute. The complete kit is available to purchase from Mike Saul at MSDS and can be retrofitted to any standard Vortex.{youtube}20GXnohUjew{/youtube}

After trials and testing of several shapes and sizes, and following feedback from Keith and several other 'test pilots' a 15 square metre spinnaker was specifically developed for the Vortex by Colin Goodman and Paul Austin at "" supply the carbon fibre spinnaker pole (all the way from New Zealand) - modified and strengthened especially for the Vortex.

The Association would like to extend a special thank you to Dave Winder at "" (Custom Carbon Chute) and Ashley at "">Bairstow Engineering (Custom Bow Frame) for their invaluable design contributions.

Thanks also to Mike Saul of" MSDS for his advice about fittings and Richard Towers of for designing and making the spinnaker socks.

For more information, pricing details or to place an order please contact Mike Saul (see the link for Spare Parts in the menu on the left)

To comply with class rules and for optimal performance, the system needs fitting with care and some accuracy. Please read the instructions&nbsp (available in the Association Members area) carefully & nbsp;and fully before starting to fit your system. If anything in the instructions does not make sense or you get stuck please contact either Keith Escritt directly or, preferably, via the Class Association website / discussion forum..

For those of you who are new to the class or who weren’t aware of it, the document pasted below gives an insight as to the development of the the Vortex Asymmetric System Jim Swinburn first rigged an asymmetric on a Vortex in 2001 - there was little interest to start with but this slowly grew and at the 2002 AGM the class agreed to develop a system - essentially for evaluation purposes.


At the 2003 AGM there was strong support for the development and some funds were allocated towards taking it further, with the intention was to have a system ready by Spring 2004. That was almost achieved as by May 2004 the prototype was sailing pretty much as it is today.

By then, the system had been through several changes – in particular, the kite grew from around 11sqM to 12.5 then 13.5 and finally 15sqM. The first few fixed pole systems were replaced by a retractable pole and some modifications were made to create a single forestay system, with the addition of a carbon chute to replace the initial metal hoop</p>

By the end of 2004 several people had ‘had a go’ on the various prototypes and feedback was generally enthusiastic..

The prototype has sailed off a handicap of 930 (30 less than standard) which seemed ok in light winds (F0-1), favourable in medium (F2-3) and harsh in windy (F4-6). This changes with course and conditions (in F1 you want to reach, rather than dead run and in F4 you want to do v broad reaches everywhere.) and of course there’s quite a learning curve..

So what have we ended up with?

The kite itself is a 15m2 radial cut developed by the class and Hydes. It is available in white only but with a choice of colour for the ‘star’ in the middle. For colours available see the photos in the gallery!

The pole is carbon and supplied by SuperSpars although they source them in New Zealand!We have a unique, aircraft grade, tempered aluminium frame between the bows. This performs 3 functions;

It acts as a support/guide for the pole

it gives additional stiffening between the hulls

It also acts as an initial ‘chute’ to collect the kite without it ever having to be dragged around the forestay (thus saving one of the major causes of tears and early deterioration of the kite).

There is a custom made Carbon chute especially developed by the class and Winder boats together with a made to measure self draining sock. And finally, of course there are the fittings, rope, wire etc to make it all work.

The 2004 AGM approved the Asymmetric Option which officially marked the acceptance of Asymmetric boats into the class. To date the Standard and Asymmetric Vortexes make up the class association and still race alongside each other at events. Prizes are awarded to the leaders in each category to ensure boats without spinnakers aren't at a disadvantage.

Since the 2004 AGM over 100 kits have been fitted to Vortex all over the UK and abroad.


Take a look at the seond hand market now in 2017 and you will see some real bargains on offer. You can get a super fast single hander with asymmetric spinnaker for under £2000.

Two daggerboards

The symmetrical daggerboards are canted inwards and angled forwards to help induce twist. The windward foil is vertical when the hull skims the surface and is designed to act as a gybing board; at the same time the leeward foil generates vertical lift  ingenious!

Rotating Rig

The rig rotates for aerodynamic efficiency. The hi-tech Mylar sail has a "fat head" for power, but a relatively conservative leech for gust response and ease of handling. The enclosed gnav and wrap around luff sleeve further reduce aerodynamic drag. Lower shrouds give precise control of mast stiffness.

Low Friction

The uniquely slim tunnel hull form of the Vortex hull combined with high aspect foils gives a very low wetted surface area, especially when flying a hull. Less drag = more speed!

More Leverage

Righting moment is a function of weight and distance from the centre of buoyancy. Due to the tunnel hull, the centre of buoyancy moves to leeward when the Vortex heels, dramatically increasing the righting moment. More righting moment means that the full power of the rig can be applied, even in stronger winds.

"Handling is direct, precise and incredibly responsive .. this boat was designed for me!"   Says  Phil Whitehead, National Champion 2005,10-13.


So do you want :-

A stong single handed Trapeze dinghy?

A fast and exhilarating sail?

A dinghy that is easy to start trapezing with - yet offers challenges once the basics are mastered.

An inherently stable dinghy? To spend more time on the boat sailing than in the water swimming?

A virtually bullet proof boat that is very economical to run.?

A class that is one design and so will not be out of date next year? (There has been some redesign in the latest boats regarding the mast, Boom and foils; which are now carbon composite build.) but you can easily add these to the original hull. The old boats are still very competitive and the carbon composite additions were allowed because new alloy components were becoming more expensive than the carbon constructed rig.

A dinghy that doesn’t require hours in the gym to sail well?

An active class association and an excellent race circuit?

The option to add an exciting 15m asymmetric?


Those of us that have been sailing the Vortex for the last few years know all of these points to be true. So what do you get for your money? The Vortex is one of the fastest and yet stable dinghy’s currently available on the market today. The tunnel hull design means that all the stability is at the edges of the hull plan, making it difficult to roll a Vortex into a capsize. When things go wrong in a Vortex more often than not you get away without a swim.


Upwind, with ;the windward side ;barely touching the water almost the entire weight of the boat and pilot are acting as righting moment giving significant leverage, power and hence speed. The sleek hull with a trapeze turns those stomach churning long beats to windward from an exhausting slog to a positive pleasure; you are simply wired off the side of the boat concentrating on steering, tactics and setting the efficient mainsail. You can spend your time sailing instead of needing hours in the gym to be competitive. More importantly for those who have never trapezed before, the Vortex stability comes to the fore; it simply feels even more ‘right’ once you are out on the wire. Tacking is quick and easy - there is a technique to be mastered but once that's done, you won't look back..


How about gybing? Again the stability (getting the message yet?) means that a Vortex gybes effortlessly and without drama. Simply grab a handful of main sheet when you are dead down wind, steer and flick the boom over, then set off on your new course.


Even after five years of good use many of the original owners are still using their first sails, most have only had to replace bits of string and rarely carry out routine gel coat repairs on minor damage. The daggerboards are virtually bomb proof and everything on the boat works well. There are some tweaks to make - details in the tuning guide available to association members via the;members section of the website.


The wetted surface area is minimal so it flies through the water quickly and quietly. In fact, other boats often only spot you as you shoot past! In a breeze the offwind legs are a blast. A fine spray flies up from up from the bow giving a fantastic impression of warp speed! As a consequence of the very low wetted area and sleek shape there is little water noise – especially offwind. Partly because of this and in common with most single sail dinghies, in very light winds the Vortex’s performance on runs could sometimes feel comparatively pedestrian - at least compared to asymmetric boats - even though it is actually travelling quite quickly .


So the class decided that more excitement was needed for those lighter wind legs and for those who had mastered the single sail rig in a lot of wind.


It was for this reason the class association put it’s weight behind the development of an asymmetric kite – one design, naturally. The resulting class supplied asymmetric kit is an elegant solution carefully designed using high quality components from Hyde, Superspars, Winder boats and others. The addition of the asymmetric transforms the Vortex into a downwind pocket rocket. 

Even in 10mph winds it starts to really travel due to the large amount of apparent wind generated. So now offwind tactics and light wind trapezing fun have added to the appeal of the class. Most boats have already added this exciting option..

Want one? Even only thinking about one?

Contact the class association or Vortex facebook group for details of the nearest owner who will be pleased to give you a demo sail.

New boats are available via Mike Saul Dinghy Spares (MSDS). The hulls are made by White's Formula, And Mike Saul supplies and fits the boats out.