Death of a development class

In a not dissimilar way to the thrust of comments – why would anyone still want to compete for such things:

… there is the demise of the C Class catamaran:

In the 60s, 70s and even into the 80s, the ‘hyper’ development classes, or largely unrestricted, were the C Class, the A Class, which I sailed, and the Moth, which I also sailed. At one stage I had a B Class cat.

These classes were where the real tech development was going on, with everyone looking for that half knot edge over the other. An exciting, a grand time, and the C Class was king. Yes, there was a D Class, not a long way from today’s America’s Cup craft:

… but they were largely leisure craft for the well-heeled.

Politics, I’m afraid, got to the C Class, the fastest craft of their time under sail. Wiki:

The story of the races goes back to 1959 when the American periodical “Yachting” sponsored a ‘One of a Kind’ regatta. The most successful catamaran in this event was “Tigercat” designed by Bob Harris of New York, which was considered by many to be the best in the world. In Great Britain, John Fisk, together with Rod MacAlpine-Downey, had won the R.Y.A. ‘One of a Kind’ series with their Thai Mk IV.

Downey and Fisk considered their boat superior to the upstart Americans, and thought that, as far as catamaran design was concerned, “the old world could still show the new world a thing or two”. A friendly challenge was issued, and the format’s similarity to the America’s Cup resulted in the competition’s unofficial nickname: the ‘Little America’s Cup’.

Sea Cliff Yacht Club, Long Island, NY, held the deeds and everyone was happy enough until about a decade ago when they suddenly announced that they were removing the rights from the C Class and giving them to a piddly 18 foot production catamaran, the type you buy off the shelf with no development.

Yes OK, the monsters of old had got just so expensive and challenges were becoming more rare, but the real killer was Dennis Conner in the America’s Cup itself, who went over to catamarans as some might recall.

That was virtually the end of the C Class as a serious challenger as the fastest sailboat afloat.  To me, it was devastating – the C Class, at 25 feet in length, were at least accessible on beaches – the public could get up close and see the whole thing happening – it was a grand time.  Festive.

The last genuine British challenger was Invictus:

I loved those boats but as commenters on the land speed post said – things move on, other craft are faster, them’s the breaks.

Deep respect to the French in this field – they’ve always been at the forefront, at the cutting edge of speed events. Such a shame that it’s now died out.

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