Learning from experience

The rules of the 49er class, arguably today’s most tightly controlled one-design, took much of their inspiration from some of the ‘loosest’ classes of all. Julian Berwaite explains

Sailing wise, the late 20th century in Australia was a fascinating place to live. There were around seven or eight large open classes active, including the three skiffs – 12ft, 16ft and 18ft. The 18ft skiff rule was basically if it is 18ft long, is not a catamaran and is on the starting line at 2:30pm, it is legal. In the 12-footers a very adventurous designer did arrive with the Kitty Cat, a 12ft long cat that went on to win the 12ft skiffs one year, so the no-cat rule came into being across all the classes.

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