Olympic 49er - Adrenaline Junkies Need Only Apply


MadforSailing took the Olympic Skiff for a jog round the park, and came back breathless
The 49er has come a long way since its launch in 1996. The top 18 Foot Skiff designer, Julian Bethwaite, conceived the boat as a global grand prix racing machine. It was quickly earmarked for Olympic selection, and that status was achieved soon after. In mid-2000 the boat is just weeks away from its first Games appearance. In the natural amphitheatre of Sydney Harbour, everything that Bethwaite dreamed should come to pass. MadforSailing reviewer Peter Bentley originally looked at the 49er in 1996, when Tim Robinson and Gareth Kelly did the sailing in some pretty fresh conditions. That was before its Olympic selection, and a subsequent series of improvements. Many of the 49er's modifications were forced by the pressure following on from Olympic selection. With the world’s top skiff and dinghy sailors pounding on the boats seven-days-a-week, even the most minor flaws showed up. The mast has been improved, the metal riveted top section replaced with a glassfibre glued on section. Changes have been made to mouldings and the bow area, with the wings now made in one complete piece instead of two. As a consequence, ISAF has ruled that only 49ers built after March 1999 can be used for the Olympics. That will ensure that all boats are identical. The UK builder, Ovington Boats, told us that these modifications were quite minor and cosmetic, and class racing for all generations of boat remains extremely level. We guess you could regard the differences as being unacceptable at Olympic level, but lesser mortals needn’t worry too much. The 49er looks as if she has been designed by a deranged powerboat stylist in one of his wackier moods. And those radical looks are easily matched by the performance. There was never any doubt about where this puppy was going to score high MadforSailing marks

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