The Cadet

Sail emblem
Length over all: 3.22 m
Beam: 1.27 m
Draft: (without centerboard) 0.16 m
Mast height: 5.22 m
Hull weight: 54 kg
Sail area
Mainsail: 3.9 m²
Jib: 1.26 m²
Spinnaker: 4.25 m²

The Cadet is a junior class of boat which is sailed by two children in the age from 7 to 17 years. With its wide distribution over more than 18 countries and 4 continents, the Cadet is a truly international racing dinghy. The boat provides a three sail experience where the helm and the crew must work together as a team to obtain the best results.

Cadet MK IV

The Cadet dinghy

The first Cadet was designed by the British boat builder Jack Holt in 1947. Originally intended for self-assembly, the boat soon became very popular and spread over the whole world. Through the years, the Cadet evolved from the wooden MK I to the modern MK IV, that is made of glass fibre. Today it has all the attributes of a racing dingy and even includes a spinnaker. In its more than 60 year old history, the Cadet introduced thousands of children to the joy of sailing, and also afforded several Olympic Sailing medallists.

The Cadet is a one-design boat and therefore all Cadets have the same, strictly controlled, measurements. While material and appearance changed over time, the hull shape remained the same. Today, wooden MK II and GRP MK IV compete in the same races. The boat itself is 3.2m long, weighs 61.2 kg and has a sail area of 4.65 square metres.

Cadet drawing


Typically, crews start sailing the Cadet at the age of 7 or 8 years. They quickly learn to sail under the guidance of an older and more experienced helm and finally begin to helm themselves at 11 or 12 years. Since it is a junior class of boat, children can sail the Cadet only until they turn 17 years.

The Cadet is not just about learning to sail. A racing day is physically exhausting and demands a great deal of concentration from the sailors. Furthermore, the helms have to learn very early to take on responsibility for their decisions and their younger crews. The crews, in turn, benefit from the knowledge and experience of their helms and therefore learn very quickly. Both sailors have to work together as a team in order to win a race.

Races all around the world

As soon as helms and crews are comfortable with the basic skills of sailing, they can try their hand at racing. Depending on the country, races range from small regional regattas to National Championships and international events like the Central European Cadet Cup. Besides the opportunity to practice racing, these regattas also provide a fantastic chance for the children to meet new friends and enjoy the various social activities.

Procession at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Cadet World Championships in Medemblik

The height of the season are the World Championships where hundreds of Cadet sailors from more than 15 countries compete for the trophy. The World Championships are hosted by a different country each year and have taken place in Australia, Argentina, India and various European countries. In a series of indicator events every national Cadet Class Association determines its seven best teams to compete in this event. For the children, this is not only a unique sporting challenge but also a great occasion to visit countries they have never been before and practice foreign languages.