• Overview: If you intend to purchase a second-hand Paper Tiger, it is wise to check it over thoroughly prior to purchasing. This will help to ensure you get many years of enjoyment out of your boat.

Plywood boats are very common, probably more so than the foam sandwich ones. Plywood boats can be excellent boats and very competitive. A 25 year old one (2634) won the 2006 International Championships. As long as they have been looked after, they can serve you very well.Some things you should look for when considering the purchase of a boat:


  • Splitting of the grain in the deck, indicating that the boat has been out in the weather or not maintained.
  • Press adjacent flat panels (such as side and bottom) to see if the 'chine' (the join between the two panels) opens up at all. If there are splits developing along the chine, this could cause problems.
  • Check that the panels are reasonably stiff. They won't be rock solid, but they shouldn't have too much give in them.
  • Check that the trailer supports the boat by its beams. This is the correct way to do it. Even so, check the bottom chine for deformation due to previous incorrect storage/transport.
  • Take a close look inside the centrecase for splits. Vertical splits inside the case can be difficult to fix and can let water in.
  • Look inside the hulls (use a torch) to see any evidence of cracking, splitting or rotting.


  • Check the mast and boom for excessive pitting from salt corrosion.
  • Check where stainless steel fittings are attached to the aluminium for telltale signs of corrosion and destruction of the aluminium.
  • Look for splits in the webbing of the sail track.
  • Check that the mast is straight and that it bends a similar amount each side.


  • Check for splitting along the front and rear edge of the centreboards and rudders.
  • Check the rudder boxes for strength, corrosion and sloppiness.
  • Check for fairness of the surfaces and for dings, scratches, etc.


  • Check the condition of the stitching.
  • Check for any rips or worn spots.
  • Check for rust stains (only a cosmetic problem).
  • Check that all the battens are there (should be 7) and that they are not permanently twisted.
  • Look along the length of the bolt ropes (mast and boom) to see if they are starting to part company with the sail.

This is not an exhaustive list, but should cover most of the main issues. Most of these problems could be fixed and you would expect that a boat of ten years old or more would show at least some of these. If it has too many of them, or you could be up for many hours (or dollars) in repair work.Don't forget that you are not buying a new boat, but if some of these problems are evident, then use them as bargaining power. It is also worth checking the trailer (and even the trolley) for obvious problems as well.