"The Zephyr was given its name from a similarly titled gentle breeze in the Greek Islands. My boats tended to be gentle little boats, sweet in their line, so I called it a Zephyr."
- Des Townson 2006

The Zephyr yacht is a one person sailing yacht designed by New Zealander Des Townson in 1956. It is one of New Zealand's most popular single person sailing yachts with over 300 wooden boats and a number of the recent fibreglass hull versions being sailed nationwide.

Regular weekend (and sometimes midweek) racing with big fleets is held by yacht clubs in Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland.

With more young and older people getting into sailing, the Zephyr has proven to be an easy boat to learn sailing in and at the same time providing one class design competition for the best of New Zealand sailors.


The Zephyr fleet is composed of sailors from teen years until 70s, men and women.

Zephyrs are an ideal boat for both casual and competitive sailors, with a diverse range of sailing and racing backgrounds throughout the fleet. Boat numbers are strong throughout NZ with enjoyable racing from yacht clubs to National Championships.


After some National Championships, the ZOA takes a look a the distribution of boat weight, skipper weights and finishing position. An approxiamate range of sailor weights is as follows:

  • 58-120kg in the Nationals fleet
  • 65 - 86kg in the top ten
  • 65 - 92kg in the top 20

You can be competitive in a Zephyr at 65-90kg and can enjoy sailing it at anything from 50-120kg!

By comparison, the accepted weight range (kgs) to be competitive for other classess are: Finn 90-105; Laser 78-82; Radial is 65-68; OK is 80-90.

There is also the option of putting a reef in so the really light sailors can be very competitive when it blows.


LENGTH OVERALL: 3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)

MAST LENGTH: 5640 mm max

Single hander yacht, mainsail only.


As a consequence of the different hull builders over the period of sixty years, six distinctive Zephyr hull groups exist and all are regularly raced:

Townson #1-233

Cook #234-240

Adams #251-260

Christchurch #300-331

Brooke #501-529

Fibreglass hull: #600 series

MacKay full GRP: #700 series

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