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RC Sailboat Classes

First, a note about the focus of this blog: I am primarily interested in the RC sailboats themselves, rather than in racing. My interest is almost entirely on boats that you can make, or at least have a large participation in making them. These are very classic looking boats that you can make, rather than plasticy-looking boats that you simply buy. For me, aesthetics is primary, speed is secondary. There are LOADS of RC sailboat racing sites that you can visit if that is your interest. But if you'd rather sip a glass of wine and ponder beautiful wooden RC sailboats, then you've come to the right place.

Some of these boats can be almost entirely hand-made, such as the Star 45 (although you can also buy a manufactured hull), T37, and Vintage Marblehead's (VM). Others, such as the East Coast 12 Meter (EC12) and the Canterbury J (CJ) class, require that you purchase a fiberglass hull but still allow the builder to complete the deck and other parts as you wish. The Star 45, and others like the massive J Class boats, can be bought pre-built, or they can be hand-made so long as they comply with the rules.

Some classes, like the International One Meter class (IOM), allow you to build your own boat according to available plans, but those hand-made boats are rarely ever competitive with the modern carbon fiber boats. Classes like IOM are great if your focus is purely on racing, and if you don't mind spending as much as it takes to acquire the fastest boat. In the end you will have a very fast boat, but one that looks manufactured. The boats in this blog all have some measure of craftsmanship and customization to them. They look... proper.

If you are more interested in sailing fast, and don't really care about the aesthetics of the boat, then you should opt for the many classes that allow or require you to buy the entire boat. IOM is currently the top class in world, but being competitive means that you'll spend thousands on the newest, latest, greatest hull, sails, and other upgrades. To be a top IOM sailor you must both be a talented sailor and be able to spend the money needed. Same with the Marblehead class (other than the Vintage Marblehead class which is mostly older, classic, hand-made hulls). For less money you can buy a Victoria, CR914, Seawind, RC Laser, or many others. There are also boats like the Dragonforce 65 and DragonFlite 95 and such that are gaining popularity and are relatively cheap, and come ready-to-sail. Between the cheaper Victoria's and such, and the very expensive IOM's, are some mid-priced classes such and Soling (which is very popular in parts of the US), Santa Barbara, and a few others.

For a list of ALL sanctioned AMYA classes, please go to: AMYA Classes.

RC Sailboats for Builders:
These are the classes that this blog focuses upon, and that can be completely, or at least largely, hand-built. There are many more classes in the US that are sanctioned by the AMYA. There are also many more classes sanctioned outside the US that are not normally sailed in the US, but are gorgeous boats (A class, 6-meter class, etc...)

The Star 45
(You can build the entire boat, or purchase it in various stages of completion)

Star 45 RC Sailboat Build Blog: A bit of self-promotion here... this is my build blog I ran for both a Star 45 build that I did a few years ago, and for my one-off version that I call the Salish 475.

I also wrote the Star 45 Construction Manual. If interested in purchasing a PDF copy, please email me. For a print copy of the Star 45 Construction Manual, please go to Lulu Press.

Star 45 Class Rules PDF: This is the latest version I can find. If you know of an updated version please let me know.

Star 45 Yahoo Group: Loads of great pictures and other information. Worth joining even though Yahoo Groups are notorious for logging you off and not working correctly.

Ken Bauser pictures: Ken must clearly be the best Star 45 builder out there! This is his Flickr page but there are some other pictures of boats he's built on the Yahoo Group page.

How to build a Star 45 blog: This is another blog by people who are really into the Star 45. Loads of good info but randomly organized. You have to really sort through it, but if you do you'll find loads of good stuff!

Stevens AeroModel: They produce the laser-cut frames for the Star 45. They also make the keel and rudder kit (you should get it) as well as the Radio Tray kit (you should get it if you plan to use the RMG SmartWinch as your winch).

Chesapeake Performance Models: They make the lead bulb that many of us use on the Star 45. They also offer fiberglass hulls, fins, rudders, and other parts for the Star 45. If you want to purchase a complete Star 45, they will be your source. He is very down on wooden hulls though, but that's understandable because 1) he's trying to sell you his fiberglass hulls, and 2) he's entirely focused on speed and not on aesthetics. He is an incredible sailor and has won numerous National Championships in a number of classes, so he knows what he's talking about. However, if your focus is, like mine, on aesthetics and you want the classic look of a wood sailboat, then make your own! Buy his bulbs though!

Tippecanoe T37
(You build the entire boat)
The Tippecanoe T37 may be the perfect introductory boat for someone new to building a wooden model RC sailboat! Thousands have been built, it is a very simple design, it sails very well, everything you need comes with the kit including the radio and electronics, and if you're in the Pacific Northwest, there is a very active fleet. It is easily the boat I would recommend that you start with to see if this hobby is for you.

AMYA T37 page

T37 Sailboat Blog: A little bit more self-promotion. This is my build blog that I ran while making my T37. Hope it's helpful to you in your build! I'm not contributing to it any more but it's still there in case you wish to read it, or to contribute any comments.

Tippecanoe Boats: Go here to find out about the T37 and Tippecanoe's other great boats. A possible future build may be their T50MOD (A 50" Maidenhead One Design). Pretty cool boat. They also have a boat that is an enlarged version of the T37 called the T52. If you want a much larger boat they have a T65 racing sloop, although their website has very limited pictures of it. If your sailboat ever needs a rescue, then their T24 Tugboat might a nice thing to have! Cute too.

PNMYC (Pacific Northwest Model Yacht Club): This is the local fleet that runs most of the T37 races. Lots of pictures and information.

RC Groups Tippencanoe thread: Posts on various T37 topics by builders. Many good ideas and pictures

Another Seattle area T37 build blog: Pete appears to be very talented. His Pygmy kayak looks great and I'm very excited to see his T37 when finished!

Vintage Marblehead 
(You can build the entire boat)

Most of the main parts of my blog are on this class! This is an entire division of boats, and not just one model. It is a "development" class, so you have a lot of flexibility in your designs. You simply have to conform to the rules, but otherwise you can do what you want. All the other boats listed here are "One Design", meaning that they are all, more or less, the same within their class. VM boats vary quite a bit.

Vintage Marblehead Website: Some useful information, although it is rarely updated.

"Until you get it right!" - An essay on building a free-sailing (Not RC) Riptide VM. It's not the style that I use, but is an interesting read nonetheless!

IOM (International One Meter)
(You can build the entire boat)

The IOM's are currently one of the most popular, and most competitive, classes in RC sail-boating. The top end IOM's can cost many thousands, and you will need to "keep up with the Jones" quite a bit to remain competitive. There is however a sub-strata of IOM's that still builds them out of wood and successfully races them. You have to be particularly careful in watching your weight, and you'd have to be a very experienced sailor, but you might do OK! 

East Coast 12 Meter 
(Must purchase the hull, but the rest can be built by you)

I still have not built one of these, but hopefully will at some point.

The East Coast 12 Meter website

Website on some rigging ideas: This is an EC12 ("East Coast 12-meter") RC site that gives some good ideas for how to make the standing rigging.

Canterbury J
(Must purchase the hull, but the rest can be built by you)

I still have not built one of these, but may at some point.

The Canterbury J class if mostly raced in the UK and New Zealand. US sites for the CJ class are few and far between. For information on buying a hull, contact:

Hans S. Berger
144 Cooke St
Plainville, Ct. 06062
(860) 212-4522


Popular posts from this blog

Riptide RC Sailboat

Well I just hit the R/C Sailboat jackpot! Rod Carr, of Carr Sails in Redmond, WA, and the second ever member of the AMYA, just gifted me a Marblehead "Riptide" hull and many of the parts and templates to finish it! Thank you Rod!

I'm not sure when I'll be able to work on this, but hopefully it will turn into a fantastic vintage Marblehead. The gentleman who started it did a fantastic job. He was a true artist and I will do my best to get as close as I can to his workmanship but it will be a challenge.

Here are some pictures...

He even cast his own bulb and the mold came with the hull! I could probably start making my own fleet of Riptides as he also gave me many of the templates and such. I will only need to pin and epoxy the bulb to the fin and fair it smooth. It will be easy to do.

The frames look and feel like he hand cut them on a scroll saw, but they are very close to perfect. He used thicker plywood than I may have but they are very sturdy. The bow is very squ…

R/C Sailboat Builds

Here are the other boats I've built in the past few years:

1. A Tippecanoe T37. These are kits available from Tippecanoe Boats in Washington State.

2. A classic, wooden, Star 45. It has been officially measured and is class legal. The Star 45 is a pretty, classy, builders boat that has withstood the test of time.

3. A Salish 475. It's my own variation on the Star 45. It was built from the same laser cut frames as the Star with a number of modifications aft of frame 6. It is an update of the classic look and was an attempt to mimic a modern ocean racing yacht.

I've also built four Pygmy kayaks and many other projects. It's all fun... right?!


Radio controlled sailboats

Sun Wind RC Sailboat 3D Model

One of my current projects is to 3D model Gus Lassel's 1949 "Sun Wind" Vintage Marblehead (VM) sailboat. Apparently it was originally called the "Sun Daze", as in fun sailing on Sundays, according to Adrian Olson whose father had a connection to the original designer. (By the way, check out Adrian's other model yachts too. He does beautiful work!)

Boats back then were free-sailing or vane-sailing. I think this was a free-sailing boat but am not sure. My version will be modified for RC. All I have to go by is an old set of lines, but hopefully I can get a decent model out of it. Eventually I would like to make laser-cut frames from my 3D model and actually recreate the boat in RC.

Adrian Olson offers a modern fiberglass kit for the Sun Wind. The pictures look beautiful! My intention is to create frames so that a builder can make their own wood & fiberglass version. I really doubt that many people will want to go through the effort it can take to make a …

Vintage Marblehead Riptide electronic files

UPDATE: As of 12/8/2017, I was sent a much better TIFF file of the original plans by Ted Houk. See my updated post

When Rod Carr gifted to me an unfinished wooden Riptide hull, it came with a CD of files from the gentleman (a man named Roger, I believe) who made it. I finally got a chance to look at the files and what a great discovery!

Roger created not only several very helpful PDF files, but .dxf files too. With some work I could make files for laser cut frames, fin and rudder!

NOTE: I am not the creator of these files and cannot vouch for the accuracy of them. The creator of the electronic files is unknown but the original plans for the Riptide go back to 1949 and are most likely in the public domain. One version of the Riptide lines is being freely distributed. These files are the only ones I've seen other than the original 1949 hand-drawn lines. I put them here under an assumed Creative Commons license for NON-commercial work. You are free to make your own Riptide but only…