Back in 1988, Richard Hartley, who ran a successful GRP laminating business in Derby, UK, and his son Mark – both very keen Kestrel sailors – were anxious about the future of their favourite dinghy when production ceased. They took the bold step of taking on the boat and commissioning a redesign that would bring it up to modern-day standards and appeal to existing Kestrel sailors and a new generation alike. Building on their success with the Kestrel, they repeated the process with several other classic British dinghy designs – not least the iconic Wayfarer on which so many of us learned to sail – and gradually the laminates business switched over almost entirely to boat-building.
Not content to rest on their laurels, the Hartleys have worked with top designers to create their own line of dinghies, specifically tailored to the training market. The “Hartley” line are made of rotomoulded polyethylene, making them almost bullet-proof and allowing boats to be supplied in a much shorter lead time than is possible for the hand-built GRP laminate models.
Richard & Mark are still very active at the top level of sailing, regularly competing – and becoming champions – in the national championships for the classes they build.