I am looking at buying a plastic/GRP Mirror as apposed to wood as I have no winter storage options. Would I be correct in thinking the only choices are between a Trident and a Winder?
What are the merits of each please?
There have been 3 all GRP Mirrors produced in the UK over the years. They are,in order of appearance:
1) Bell Woodworking from 1986. Constructed using chopped strand mat. Similar deck layout to most wooden Mirrors (i.e. Mk2 interior) but no inner gunwales, no bow shapes or quarter knees. The deck moulding goes up to the gunwale and wraps over onto the hull mould. The topsides are very thick and hollow. Some of the buoyancy tanks may be connected via the hollow topsides (one boat had the bow tank connected to the stern tank !). There is a lip on the deck around the cockpit. Not very many of these were made and they are very heavy (one recorded at 85Kg, minimum hull weight is 45Kg). As they are chopped strand mat they are not very stiff. The come up on sites like e-bay from time to time for around £500. Best avoided.
2) Trident from around 2001. Constructed using foam sandwich (Form Reinforced Plastic (FRP) = thin GRP skin, then foam, then another GRP skin). Identical deck layout to most wooden Mirrors (i.e. Mk2 interior) with a gunwale moulding to give inner gunwales, bow shapes and quarter knees. The deck mould stops at deck level. Until Winder started production in 2007, this was the only game in town if you wanted GRP, so quite a few made and the "Mirror Race" version was pretty well down to weight, stiff and on the pace with the best wooden boats. Note that the "Weekender" version may be heavy and not measure if you were thinking of using one for racing (one example I looked at was too wide at sheerline on two stations). To get this GRP boat to have all the features of the wooden boat required a large number of mouldings (about 12 I think) to be glued together. For example the skeg is partly hull mould and the rest a seperate moulding. This was the only way a skeg with a hole could be produced in GRP. Needless to say, this is not the ideal way to build a GRP boat, the joins can look unsightly and can be prone to fail or have other problems. However, this was the only option available in 2001 when the moulds were produced. Older Tridents were gaff rigged, later ones were Bermuda (and some older ones converted to Bermuda) Pretty good boats, rare to see one for under £2000.
3) Winder from 2007. Constructed using foam sandwich (FRP). The Mirror Class Association asked Phil Morrison to restyle the interior for GRP construction. The result is know as a Mk 3 interior which has no cuddies, dished decks, curved bulkheads, a raised platform for the mast step, and wrap over gunwales. The requirement for a hole in the skeg was also removed so the skeg could be formed as part of the hull mould. The result is a boat which is made from just 3 moulds - hull, deck and thwart/daggerboard case top. Winder Boats were the first builder to make moulds for Mk3s (now two other builders in Australia). Widely regarded as the best Mirror available with a price tag new to match and they hold their value, so not much cheaper 2nd hand.