Various classes of model yachts are raced in the UK and these are controlled by the MYA (Model Yacht Association). Classes of model yachts are shown below.
This is an MYA national class, which is particularly suitable for lakes with restricted depth and sheltered wind conditions. It offers virtually complete freedom in design provided that the boat, in racing trim and with the exception of fittings, rig and sails, fits completely into a rectangular measurement box 940mm (37”) long, 229mm (9”) wide and 279mm (1l”) deep. Some designs with very simple rigs are ideal for youngsters to rig and race. The measurement of these boats takes only a few minutes and is simplicity itself. Despite the freedom that this rule permits, many boat designs stay competitive for many years. Vane steered free sailing 36”s made a comeback in 2003.
These boats are light, responsive and fun to sail. This is the most popular of the four international classes and is sailed at most MYA clubs. The class rule is ‘closed’ and many aspects of design, materials and construction are restricted in an attempt to promote close competition. However the rule is designed to allow the DIY enthusiast some freedom to construct an inexpensive and competitive boat. The important speed related criteria of length, draught, displacement and sail plan are limited to a maximum of 1000mm, 420mm, 4kg and 3 prescribed rigs.
This popular class is usually the starting point for most club skippers. The model is only 1m loa, 1.7m high and 4kgs in weight. The rigs are easily de-mountable and the fin and ballast must be removable, thus making this an extremely easy yacht to transport.
This class of yacht originated at Marblehead in the USA and had an overall length of 50ins suitable to fit across the rear seat of a car. These boats too are light, responsive and very fast. This ISAF RSD international class rule is ‘open’ allowing great design and construction freedom within the main speed determining parameters restricted to 1290mm length, 700mm draught and 0.5161 square metres of measured sail. Ultimate efficiency and excellent performance has developed within these simple limits.
Current hull designs are very narrow with stability coming largely from the deep fins. This has allowed most post-1991 designs to remain competitive and give very close racing. Simple swing rigs allow some designs to be rigged very easily. Based on the width of the back seat of a car, the rule makes these boats easy to transport. Second hand boats are good value for money. This class is also free sailed under vane controlled steering.
Today this class is the Formula 1 of yachts and this is where hi-tech is the norm, with virtually no limits on the hull, rigging, construction material, design or fittings.
These boats are not limited in length and have overhangs beyond their waterline endings making them light, sleek, seaworthy and fast. This ISAF RSD international rule is based on the 1887 ‘length and sail area rule’ which allows short waterline length boats to have a big sail area and longer LWL boats have smaller sails. It is an ‘open’ rule with great freedom to develop design and construction, particularly in rigs and sail plans. Any boat can be a 10 rater and several Marbleheads have been successful in the class by conversion with just one larger rig giving 40% extra sail area. A typical 10 rater is approximately 1600mm long, weighs 6kg and carries one square metre of sail.
This MYA national class is a scaled down version of its full sized counterpart and offers a traditionally graceful appearance with steady performance and handling. Boats are typically about one metre on the waterline with long overhangs. The draught is restricted to around 230 mm (9 ins) with the displacement typically 12 kg (26 Ibs) and the sail area relatively large at about .7 square metres (1100 sq.ins). The class rules are ‘open’ allowing design development and variety. They are maintained by the MYA in conjunction with the 6M Owner’s Association, which also handles the registration of the class. Boats enjoy a long competitive life and events include some match racing.
Boats in this ISAF RSD international ‘open’ class are also not limited in length, but are controlled by a formula which demands a balance between waterline length, displacement and sail area. Sails get smaller as displacement reduces and as waterline length increases. The formula was devised in 1922 by the editor of the Yachting Monthly as a testing ground for later use in the full sized 5.5 Metre class rule. Although boats are of a heavy ‘type’ there is more flexibility to create lighter ‘models’. Nevertheless they are big boats and a fleet of radio ‘A’ boats are an impressive and awesome sight! Boats are typically 2 metres long, weigh between 14 and 25kg, carry about one square metre of sail and enjoy a long competitive life. This class is also keenly free sailed under vane controlled steering. The week’s racing alternately sailed at Gosport and Fleetwood currently has the youngest competitor profile of any national championship.
RC Laser, available as a "ready to sail package", is gaining in popularity. The Class Association organises a series of events including a national championship each year.
The official American Model Yachting Association one design class is now available in the U.K. This model is designed with the beginner in mind and features simple construction and excellent performance.
She is a semi-scale version of the world famous Olympic Soling one design racing yacht. The Soling One Meter is now the most popular class in the U.S.A. and is sailed by both beginners and experienced.
The Fiesta is simply the best of the small yachts in the Uk and probably the world, it has qualities few others can even come close to. It is quick, easily the quickest of the small yachts, it is responsive and yet forgiving, can sail in almost any wind with one suit of sails and it will fit into the smallest of cars without de-rigging, what more could anyone ask for.
There is an interest in sailing multihulls - catamarans and trimarans. The MYA has no recognised class for these, but the British Model Multihull Association has adopted the MINI 40 rule as a standard from which to work. This rule allows a catamaran or trimaran with a maximum length and beam of 1.2 metres and a maximum sail area of 0.9 square metres. The larger 2M class has also been recognised by the BMMA. Further details of the boats, events and the BMMA can be obtained from its Secretary.