What is the worlds favourite sailing dinghy?

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Max McCarthy
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What is the worlds favourite sailing dinghy?

Post by Max McCarthy » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:25 pm

Hi all,

At school, I have been writing something called an extended project, which is a project about anything you choose, in the form of a question.....one which you answer, so I have chosen to embark on the challenge of (with the help of surveys of course) of what is the world's favourite sailing dinghy?

the survey can be found here:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/87ZG2CT

Many thanks, in advance,

Max

EDIT: Just correcting the grammar, in the question....
Last edited by Max McCarthy on Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by Max McCarthy » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:09 pm

Sorry, after posting this somewhere else, I should have made it clear - in the survey, if you choose your most favourite dinghy, so then I could get the numbers correct, as to how I have written the essay....

Many thanks,

Max
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by davidh » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:56 pm

Oh dear Max......... you may have made a hard challenge for yourself.

For starters........ the 'worlds' favourite sailing dinghy - that is a very subjective statement. Do you mean the most populous, or the most active, or would you prefer to somehow quantify things and come up with a 'best boat'..

A couple of years back, I ran a series on the 'Top Ten UK Dinghy Designs' and found this was a huge job (and I had top line access to resources and a background at degree level in Statistics). In the end, the only way I found to do it was to apply a rigourous intellectual discipline, pull together a small 'committee' of well informed fellow sailors and it still took a lot of effort but it worked - the only dissent came from some of the more vocal Int 14 sailors who couldn't believe that their boat did not finish in the top place.

The series was so successful that half way through I got asked if we could run a second series the following year on a global basis and work on this was already well in hand when the magazine was sold to a competitor. From my experience people in the UK have a very blinkered and 'Uk-centric' view on what constitutes the state of the dinghy sailing scene; go to your local sailing club and you can bet that you'll have a fair collection of (as an example) various RS boats. Cross the channel and you'll find that things are very different indeed with the traditional international classes dominating to the point that you'll find yourself surrounded by OKs, Five-Os, 420s, 470s, Snipe, even FDs.

Nor does most populous equate to 'best': if you take the big 2 (Laser and Sunfish) both designs have significant flaws - yet have sold in their 10s of thousands. In the world of 2 person boats the big numbers are found not in super skiffs, but in the 420, Snipe and Vaurien...but even these numbers pale into insignificance when compared to the boat that is numerically the big daddy - yet is a small boat - yes, the Mirror.

I regret to say that my bet is that by asking on the Y&Y forum, you are not going to get 420, Vaurien, Snipe and Mirror featuring strongly, but my guess is that people will vote for boats like the Int Moth and various skiffs - despite the fact that numerically these are just percentage points compared with the Laser, Sunfish and Oppie. Besides, asking people in the UK which is the most favourite 'in the world' simply ignores the fact that other nations may have a very different set of criteria. Finally, you have the very real risk that your own likes/dislikes have influenced your thinking (as in your inclusion of the Int Canoe in your list..... now they may be an amazing dinghy but would they feature on a list of the 'worlds most favourite sailing dinghies'......) - in this case you end up writing a report that simply reflects your own view point and as such looses out in terms of intellectual integrity.

You might be better off therefore ignoring the subjective element and work strictly on the basis of sail numbers but even then, as Jim C will no doubt advise, this is a bit of a minefield as the shift from national numbers to ISAF hull plaques has blurred how many boats are really out there. One thing is certain Max is that any 'data' collected by polling from a base source such as a forum will be heavily skewed and unrepresentative - the old rule going back to the early days of computers (and still just as valid today) is 'Rubbish in, Rubbish out'.
Hence the advice - keep it simple and stick to 'easily' (relatively speaking) collected numbers

D
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by Nigel » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:13 am

Hi Max,

don't be too disheartened by David's reply. Although everything he says is correct, from a purely academic perspective, you will have a dataset to analyse. My suggestion would be to work out what that analysis is and if as part of that, you come to the conclusion that you needed a better question (or some secondary questions) then that is a valid outcome.

I answered "sunfish" and will await the heated debate :).

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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by davidh » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:23 am

Nigel,

I wrote this to Max for the simple reason (as I stated in my reply) is that I've been through this particular exercise - what started as a good idea for a quick 10 part series (with the promise of a second 10 parter the following year) ended up with far more work than the monetary value of the writing!

In the realms of statistics, there is wonderful 'case study' that highlights the points I was making to Max. Years ago, some researchers had the job of finding out the public view on steeplechasing. Now in those days the trick was to board a train and ask every passenger - you had a captive audience who were probably bored (this has now been stopped except for the train companies themselves...) So off they go and get a very illuminating set of data - except for the fact that the train they had been on was heading North early on Grand National day.... in short, you are asking people heading for a race meeting if they like horse racing - rotten data in = rotten results out.

Taking your comments to Max as 'advice' then you are going to be asking a small, vocal group of people who think that any boat that doesn't set an acre of sail, with multiple trapezes and built of some high tech material is 'old and boring'......(the latest boat to get slagged off is the 420.... despite it being a superb youth boat that remains highly popular out on the continent and elsewhere and is in the top 5 of 2 person boats - worldwide) so your answers will - as I warned, be competely unrepresentative of here in the UK - let alone 'World wide'. How is he going to establish what the 'favourite' is in Germany which has a great dinghy sailing scene - or in the Nordics - or in Australia where they have their own clearly identifiable range of equally great boats that are different to those in the UK.

My children might be older than Max now but they too had 'interesting' projects when at school and college. My advice to them back them and to Max now is the same: Anything that even 'hints' at a survey has to start with an overview of the methodology used, so the reader knows how the results were obtained. As I understand it max wants to head here to Southampton Uni to get on their marine architecture course which is a fantastic goal to aim at - however we'd not be helping him along the way by saying that things are okay when they are not. He might get away with that where he is now, but he'd come a cropper at Southampton!

D
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by JB9 » Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:08 pm

I could be wrong but I suspect the project is about the collection and analysis of data itself rather than the actual answer. I would have a thought a well researched work concluding its the Ovington Aura would score equally as well as Sunfish.
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by Michael Brigg » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:23 pm

This is clearly a question about how to construct an argument and interpret data. The answer is irrelevant, is more about how you convince people.

An increasing amount of weight today is given to "Evidence based" statements, and with it an industry has been built around providing that evidence. Everything from How much Horsemeat is good for you, to how many Plebs Andrew Mitchell is actually aquainted with. As an honest man from the Street of Shame, David will know all about this.

"In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king."...until he discovers that they conduct all of their business at night, with the lights out. Politics was always about this, and I suspect this essay is part of your "Critical thinking" exam.

We hear of the so called "Wisdom of Crowds," and we are told that populations instinctively know what is best for them, but we repeatedly see nations and individuals making the same mistakes wether that be taking holidays in France, invading Afghanistan, or creating Investment bubbles. From this fact comes the justification for teaching History, The science of population and nation behaviour. The argument is that "Those who do not know their History are condemned to spend their lives repeating it."

Wikipedia is said to be able to correct any wrong fact within 1.4minutes of incorrect information being posted....Wisdom of crowds again.

...and yet there is almost twice as much information on Wikipedia about the Star-drive of Federation star fighters than there is about NASA.

The CVRDA is also a crowd.

Oh, ...I like International Canoes as well!
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by Bill-Conner » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:48 pm

Two thousand years ago give or take we are asked to believe that the crowd(Mob?) chosr Barrabus over the son of God the polirticians we like to berate are chosen by a similar popular vote I submit both these example demonstrate crowds have little wisdom and evidence based is nearly always a misleading result.

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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by trebor » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:43 pm

Hi Max, How I read request, is that you want the opinion of forum users, who are a very wide strata, ages, backgrounds, areas where they live, boats they own or have owned, I would think cvrda people have the widest range of boats on any forum in uk, ie very old to new and one offs and one remaining etc, if you get 100 replies from forum (not counting y&y) you have an opinion of what cvrda users think is the best boat in the world. I posted Mirror ( only my opinion ).
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Re: What is the worlds favourite sailing dinghy?

Post by Max McCarthy » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:21 pm

Hi David,

That sounds like good advice....perhaps I need to rethink my research a bit....I have seen your top 10 uk dinghy designs article, and it was very well written, so I can see what you mean by saying it is a lot of work, as you said, you needed a panel of judges! And all I have got is one survey, but I am hoping to do a lot more research into the matter, atleast before I decide to go with something else....

And David, just to clarify, what I mean, is that I want to somehow put all the data together, to get an idea, of what the worlds favourite dinghy is, so I could see that for whatever reason people have for liking their class, what the general view is of what the worlds favourite dinghy is...and get this, by getting a generalised view, of what people think is THEIR favourite dinghy, not what they feel the worlds favourite dinghy is, so I get better data rather then the bad data, and hopefully get good results. However, I have already made a mistake, and this is in the wording of the question....

Your right, it doesn't necessarily mean most popular or fastest or slowest, or which is the biggest bandit. But it is a subjective matter, and that (I am guessing) is what makes writing something like this so tricky!

Thank you for your advice, I guess I will have to think of another way of getting data for this project (and perhaps wording it better!)

Many thanks, and best wishes,

Max

Ps, just had a thought; what if I made a longer survey, to get what people feel is their favourite boat for; cruising, racing, fleet racing, social side etc...so then I could get less 'tarnished' data? What do you think?
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by Max McCarthy » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:22 pm

Nigel wrote:Hi Max,

don't be too disheartened by David's reply. Although everything he says is correct, from a purely academic perspective, you will have a dataset to analyse. My suggestion would be to work out what that analysis is and if as part of that, you come to the conclusion that you needed a better question (or some secondary questions) then that is a valid outcome.

I answered "sunfish" and will await the heated debate :).
Good idea, Nigel, I will have a think, and then (most likely) write a longer survey...

Many thanks,

Max
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by Max McCarthy » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:24 pm

JB9 wrote:I could be wrong but I suspect the project is about the collection and analysis of data itself rather than the actual answer. I would have a thought a well researched work concluding its the Ovington Aura would score equally as well as Sunfish.
Yes, JB9, I asked my teacher today, who mentioned it is mainly how you collect your data, and make a comparison, so it isn't so much the conclusion you make....

Many thanks,

Max
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Re: What is the worlds favourite sailing dinghy?

Post by Max McCarthy » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:26 pm

Hi Michael,

Yes thank you for the advice, I will have a re-think of how my essay is structured...and I will have more of a think about what you mention about wisdom in crowds, which I guess is very true, considering two people have a wealth more of knowledge, then one alone, and more people even more so...

Many thanks,

Max
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by Max McCarthy » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:29 pm

Bill-Conner wrote:Two thousand years ago give or take we are asked to believe that the crowd(Mob?) chosr Barrabus over the son of God the polirticians we like to berate are chosen by a similar popular vote I submit both these example demonstrate crowds have little wisdom and evidence based is nearly always a misleading result.
Yes, Bill-Conner,

We almost always believe what we are told to believe, and not what is now considered wrong....and almost no one questions it...

Many thanks,

Max
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Re: What is the worlds most favourite sailing dinghy.....

Post by Max McCarthy » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:30 pm

trebor wrote:Hi Max, How I read request, is that you want the opinion of forum users, who are a very wide strata, ages, backgrounds, areas where they live, boats they own or have owned, I would think cvrda people have the widest range of boats on any forum in uk, ie very old to new and one offs and one remaining etc, if you get 100 replies from forum (not counting y&y) you have an opinion of what cvrda users think is the best boat in the world. I posted Mirror ( only my opinion ).
That is exactly it Rob! You said it better then I could.

Thanks for pointing that out,

Best wishes,

Max
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