The original concept was to take Alf Last’s rowing dinghy and add a simple lug rig to make a stable boat that could carry well but also be a satisfying boat for novice or expert alike to mess around in. Some Smacks Boats have been rigged with bowsprits, jibs and standing rigging, but the version that continues to be the most popular is the simple unstayed mast single lugsail. This can be rigged in 2-3 minutes. The whole idea is a boat that is fun to sail, simple to use and economical to own.
The Smacks Boat sails well, is very stable, rarely having to be sat out, and is dry in a sea. She can be sailed three up, being a very good weight carrier. If the wind dies or she is being used as a tender she can easily be rowed or an outboard motor can be fitted. She is large enough to live on a mooring and small enough to be easily trailer sailed. The East Coast Area of the Old Gaffers Association runs races for Smacks Boats at their small boat rallies. She can be towed by a smack or larger yacht and I know of an instance of a Smacks Boat being towed across the North Sea to Holland.
Smacks Boats started out as the tenders for the local Maldon sailing smacks and for those who want a solid dinghy that carries and looks well with a traditional feel it would be difficult to find anything better, the fact that they are good sailing boats too is a bonus. Some people keep their boats on tidal moorings and others have launching trailers and keep them ashore. There are some that are sailed on lakes and inland waters. Most people who buy them nowadays do not use them as tenders but as sailing dinghies in their own right. I know of several that have been bought in conjunction with a camper van and subsequently trailer/sailed all over the British Isles.