The Heron is a two person dinghy that is sailed in all states of Australia. The Heron was designed in the early 1950s by Jack Holt in the UK. The class was introduced to Australia in the late 1950s and has flourished in its new home.
The Heron offers safe entry level sailing for novices but also provides an ongoing challenge for experienced sailors who are seeking to optimise performance.
The Heron can be built in timber (using traditional framing or stitch and glue construction) or fibreglass. Second hand boats usually range in price from $500 to $8,000. A fully equipped new fibreglass boat bought off the shelf can be put on the water for approximately $12,500.
Herons race in many metropolitan and country sailing clubs in all Australian states. Keenly contested State and National Championship regattas are held each year. All boats are essentially the same shape and weight. Success requires excellent sailing and tuning skills. Older boats remain competitive – the 1971 National champion (7814 Sobraon) won the title again in 2009 and was 4th in 2019.
The Heron has a long and proud history of family involvement. Many of the past class national championships have been won by parent/child crew combinations. A number of sailors who crewed in the Heron in the past have returned to the class with their own children to share the family sailing experience.
The Heron was designed with a two piece (mast/gaff) gunter rig. A one piece (or Bermudan) mast has been introduced in recent years that gives similar performance. Both rigs can be used in competitive sailing with no performance difference. A larger headsail (genoa) has also been introduced for use by crews with a combined weight of 135 kgs or more. Use of this sail has allowed couples to sail together and compete on an even footing with lighter crews.