The Trials and Tribulations of Rigging a DragonFlite 95 Radio Controlled Yacht.
Last summer, word arrived at Chew about a new phenomenon that was storming the world of radio controlled yachts. It was the DragonFlite 95, a 95cm mass produced mould made in China and was on sale for £330 with everything (almost) that you needed to sail. There was plenty of information about this new class available on the internet including lots of videos on YouTube. This all seemed too good to be true and warranted further investigation.
Roll on into the autumn of 2019 and the DF95 arrived at Chew Valley Lake. The race was on as to who would have a DF95 built and launched first. John Smalley won that race closely followed by John Shimmell.
I was lucky when I found an unbuilt, still in original packaging DF95, advertised on Facebook for sale in Huntingdon. After a few e-mails, a telephone call and a day’s drive to Huntingdon and back, I became the owner of a DF95.
Looking through the contents of the box and reading the building instructions, my first thoughts were, what have I taken on here?
The next step was to get as much information as I could about building the boat. Thankfully there was a lot of information on the internet. FaceBook groups and YouTube were all very helpful. There were people from all over the world willing to give support and advice when I asked for building tips.
Not having a lot of space at home, I decided to put the boat together in the clubhouse bar. Wednesdays was an ideal day, plenty of people around willing to give an opinion and a hand if asked. Although I could see that the 2 Johns had completed their boats and had launched, I felt that I was being pressured to complete building and join them on the water. But then came Christmas, and a bout of flu and a chest infection halted things for a while.
By the beginning of March, I was prepared to launch, but weather was against me. Only having the supplied A rig sail, meant that the boat could only be sailed in winds of 12mph or less. I was beginning to think about building a second smaller rig for the stronger winds.
I did some research and found that there are 3 other rigs of varying sizes for different wind speeds. Think of it like a Laser class dinghy with Rooster 8.1, Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs. One boat with a rig for virtually all wind speeds.
I found also that not only could sails be purchased form Joysway, the boat manufacturer, but from several model yacht sailmakers here in the UK and abroad.
I decided on buying a slightly smaller B rig from Catsails, a small company based in Southampton. Unlike the sails supplied by the boat manufacturer, there was a wide choice of colours available for the corner finger tapes and the jib luff tape. Choices, choices! Each rig for the DF95 has a different sized mast and different main and jib booms. These are only available from Joysway or their agent in the UK, RC Yachts.
The sail arrived at home a week after I ordered it and the spars and other bits all available as a kit, arrived the following day. This was the day that the country was told to lockdown and the realisation that life as we knew it would not be returning for some time. So, week one of lockdown was spent coming to terms with the situation and trying to distract my thoughts away from the virus by building a DF95 B rig. I had plenty of time on my hands, so I took my time and carefully followed the instructions from the original manual. A few adjustments were required to some of the control lines and it eventually all came together without any problems. Although the manual says that a rig can be assembled in a couple of hours, I found 4 to 6 hours to be a more realistic figure!
With the lockdown now being enforced and plenty of time on my hands whilst confined to barracks, I thought next about the 2 other rigs available for the DF95. Catsails had announced that they were still open for business, so I bit the bullet and ordered another 2 sails and rig kits from RC Yachts. The rigs came the following day and the sails 10 days later.
I was initially quite surprised at how small the C and D rig sails were. The D rig mainsail was smaller than the jib of the B rig! I also noticed that the Mylar material used to make the sails of the B,C and D sails were made from a Mylar material that was 75 microns thick. The A rig sail is made from Mylar that is 50 microns thick.
I worked methodically through the instructions again, this time finding that the process was getting slightly easier through familiarity.
I was quite proud of the D rig I built first. I posted a photo of it on a FaceBook DF95 group only to be told quite quickly by a Canadian that I had made a mistake with the jib hook down line. It had been threaded through the foremost of the 2 deck eyes as is correct for the A and B rigs, but the C and D rigs just use the second eye on the deck. John Smalley and John Shimell both failed to notice it in the photos that they saw!
So now with 4 rigs built, all that remains is to launch the boat and make all the fine adjustments needed to get them sailing efficiently. It’s going to be fun racing these little yachts at Chew when we are eventually allowed to sail again. There are at least 5 members of the club that have a DF95. Several others are expressing interest in getting one. If you are locked down and confined to barracks, think about spending some time and building one yourself!
Top Building Tips
- Read instructions thoroughly at least twice.
- Have the right tools.
- Work in a quiet environment with minimal distractions.
- Work in good lighting conditions.
- Avoid working when you are tired, late in the evening or after a heavy meal/alcoholic drink.
- Take your time.
- Have a practice tying knots and threading bowsies before you start the rigging process.
- Thin nose pliers
- Good quality scalpel/craft knife and spare blades
- 40cm x 30cm cutting mat
- Metal ruler, 15cm and 30cm
- Tape measure
- Fine tipped permanent ink marker pen.
Additional tools that I found useful
- Reading glasses
- Reading lamp.
- Acetone….Superglue antidote!
- Small sharp scissors
- Emery board/nail file
- Cigarette lighter
Solo Fleet Captain and totally inexperienced Dragonflite 95 sailor!
Useful Links :
Dragonflite 95 Class Info pages.
Model boat sailmaker
Model boat sailmaker
Model Yacht Association