The Australian 14' Skate Sailing Dinghy is a two-man dinghy designed in 1956 and was the original performance development class, with the sail plan created by J. Herrick and the hull by Vince Minter. The hull was redesigned and widened in 1971 by Doug Jefkins and the measurement tolerances were tightened, and the size of the mainsail and spinnaker were increased in 1983-84 season. The first fibreglass hulls appeared in 1971, with foam sandwich hulls being produced from 1979.
During the 1990s the rig was lengthened and the sail plan modified to improve the aspect ratio. The class further evolved in 2000 with thoughts of using an asymmetrical spinnaker mounted from a bow pole. At the 2000/2001 nationals the new asymmetric system was voted in, and all competitive Skates are now configured with the taller rig and bow pole (either carbon fibre or aluminium, extendable or fixed depending on personal preference). These changes have made the Skate easier to sail, and crew weight is now less critical, as evidenced by the number of younger sailors competing at a high level in the fleet.
The Skate is a national class which offers high performance for a relatively low price. Fourteen feet long, they have few restrictions and so can be configured to suit individual preferences. Most Skates have a 10-foot long plank for the crew, and an 8-foot plank for the skipper. Planks are slid across the hull from one side to the other when tacking. Other configurations include short wings with two trapezes, longer wings with one trapeze, or trampolines.
Western Australian Skate sailors enjoy competitive sailing between clubs during the State Championships (held at various metropolitan and country clubs, including TCYC Rockingham, MOFSC Mandurah and GBYC Busselton). Both EFYC and SofPYC hold their own Club Championships throughout the season, and compete against each other at the annual Teams Race held at a 'neutral' club (such as NYC). As well as close competition on the water, the Skates also enjoy a reputation for good times and camaraderie off the water, which ensures that the National Championships (to be held at Kangaroo Island, SA in 2004) are enjoyable for competitors and supporters.