Over 20 years ago Hartley Boats were lucky enough to be offered a single-handed race dinghy. With no other-single hander racing boat in our stable, we jumped at the chance to buy the copyright, moulds and tooling for the Supernova.
As many Supernovas were sold each year the class was well supported and we immediately believed if we were to invest in new designs and tooling, we could make this boat into a very special and successful racing class.
After six months of rigorous testing and sailing the boat, we produced a list of changes and improvements we wanted to make to the original boat. We were by this time lucky enough to have worked with Phil Morrison our Naval Architect on other boats and he confirmed that he would be pleased to work with us on the Supernova.
The team goal was to make this already successful boat into a very special racing dinghy with a great future and take the class racing from thirty boats at the Nationals to over a hundred.
At Phil’s request we cut an existing hull in thin slices and returned it to Phil for him to begin his hard work. As with the Wayfarer, Wanderer and Kestrel we believed the boat sailed and handled like a dream and that we should not change the hull. The design changes would be made to the deck, floor, side tanks and the transom.
The final changes and improvements list were given to Phil and after many meetings we agreed the way forward. The list of requirements was by no means an easy challenge for Phil but he liked the boat and became as determined as we were to make it a success.
Make the boat easier to right after a capsize was the number one requirement, reduce the height of the dagger-board when capsized, reduce the size and buoyancy of the side tanks and get rid of that massive enclosed back tank. Move to an open transom, this would stop the fleet complaining that it takes too long to drain the boat after capsize.
Completely re-design the deck and cockpit, make the sitting position more comfortable but most important, we want the boat to look sleek, stylish and a boat you would want to sail, a boat and class that you would want to be part of.
The new boat at the first boat show looked stunning, it was liked and all the changes were successful. The class grew from strength to strength and we were on our way. But we also noticed that the majority of the boats were sold to clubs with existing Supernova fleets and when a boat was sold to a club with no other Supernova Sailors, within a few months the owner would sell the boat on and buy another boat. When we asked the owners “why did they sell the boat?” the same reply was repeated, “I am fed up of being beaten by a Laser sailor on handicap”. They impressed on me that they were better sailors than many of the Laser helms, but the handicap was too aggressive, this resulted in them selling their boat to be able to buy a boat that would give them a chance to win.
Two years later, having worked with the Supernova Committee to encourage clubs to get the results from all Supernova handicap races we set about getting the handicap changed, but we got nowhere, just frustration. Furthermore, Supernova new sailors that loved the boat were selling their boats due to the handicap. It was time to solve the problem. Hartley Boats presented the plan to solve the problem once and for all, to the full Supernova Committee.
The decision was to either call the boat a Nova because there was nothing Super about its performance or stay with the Supernova name but make the boat a Supernova. Hartley Boats plan was to make the boat lighter, stiffer and change from a GRP constructed boat to an epoxy boat. Set a total hull weight of 50kgs, this would produce the results we needed. Improve the foils, stiffen the dagger board case, fair the hull to ensure the new boat sails well to its PY handicap of 1077 and move the boat forward.
The changes were just what was needed, we now had a sleeker Supernova that could compete well in a handicap fleet and win if you are good enough sailor.
Why choose a Supernova over any other single hander?
The boat looks and is stunning, great to sail in big seas and strong winds the boat just goes faster, the hull shape gives you a stable but exciting ride, the side-decks are comfortable, tacking and gybing is easy, with a boom height that is easy to get under, a self-draining cockpit and a fully adjustable rig that you can adjust within seconds to allow you to sail in any conditions without fighting the boat.
Should you get the gybe wrong, with a sealed mast the reduced buoyancy side tanks allows the boat to float lower in the water. You don’t even have to get on the dagger board, just lean on the dagger board and she will come up, no need to go over the side just slide in through the open transom. The boat will be dry, just sheet-in and off you go.
The Supernova class are very friendly, welcoming and helpful, a great family but a very competitive fleet. With ages ranging from teenagers to grandads sailing, competing and enjoying the Supernova with a well-supported full racing calendar and a National Championship held every year and over a hundred boats competing to win that cherished National Champion badge.
When we sell a new boat Hartley Boats likes to complete a full boat handover to ensure that you fully understand how to rig your new boat but most importantly that you get the best from your new investment. We also tune your new Supernova and we go through the boat set-up for a beat, reach and run to ensure you are confident with your new boat.
We at Hartley Boats are very proud of our standards and build quality, to demonstrate that statement we are the only manufacturer to offer a 4-year guarantee. Should it be needed we are able to deliver.