Originally written in 2005 for Marine Modelling International
These little one foot long sailing boats are a load of fun and much enjoyed by many sailors from young kids with free sailing ‘Choppa’s to keen radio sailors and newcomers from many different backgrounds in several countries. They provide a starting point for newcomers to sail because of the small size, low-cost and freedom to design and build with few restrictions. Scale modellers can create ‘cartoons’ of traditional craft or racing boats, whilst budding designers can create original designs and have an equal amount of fun at a small scale.
The MYA Council is keen to encourage children amongst these newcomers. Prompted by design and technology teacher, Vic Bellerson, the Council asked the Technical Team to investigate what rules for this class existed and create a suitable set of parameters for a children’s school model sailing project. Boats about a foot long are about the maximum size that can be acceptable on schools’ vacuum forming equipment etc and about the minimum size to accommodate basic radio gear. The objectives set by the Council for these parameters were for the newcomers to:
and for the tech team to:
There have been many foot long boats in model yachting’s history both one-designs and those to rules long forgotten. Some were extreme as in Australia at the beginning of the last century with very deep keels and clouds of sail. The free sailing ‘Choppa’ was designed for young children in the 1970s. Its simple moulding and basic gear made it a focus for at least one school’s design and technology project. As a result several hundred have been built as a one-design after testing a series of una and other experiment rigs, including swing rigs for sailing under radio.
The idea for a Footy Class was first devised in 2000 by Richard Webb for sailing in small demo pools because a foot long boat is about the smallest boat into which standard radio gear would fit. Richard set some very basic parameters for boats used at the Weymouth Model Festival and from an article in this magazine it spread to other parts of the world. Richard has a very popular ‘Footie’ kit that developed from this initial idea and several hundred have been built often by scale modellers. The MYA is keen to promote this class as part of a need to attract newcomers to the sport of radio sailing.
In New Zealand, Brett McCormack has produced some really good one-foot long designs such as ‘Bobabout’ and ‘Pip Squeak’ and plans and kits are available. He developed a New Zealand version of the Footy rules, which have more restrictions on keel depth, rig height, 3 rig maximum, rudder overhangs, sail numbers etc. In the USA yet another set of rules were created, building on Brett’s New Zealand rules, but with more and different restrictions, including rig overhang limits and a taller maximum rig height, reflecting the lighter wind conditions. Leading enthusiast Bill Hagerup has been equally creative in his variety of beautiful wide and narrow Footy boats, ‘Minime’ and ‘Half Pint’. After a lot of e-mail discussions and work with these and other Footy enthusiasts, compromises were reached on radio gear, rig height restriction, numbers of rigs. A universal set of rules has been worked out and agreed to cover existing boats and provide a uniform set of parameters for the future.
The rules are presented in two different ways. So that children and newcomers alike are not put off by a set of written rules, a rules summary in diagrammatic form, with notes, covers the essence of the rule in very simple terms. Then for the more technically minded there is just a single page of class rules providing the detail that relates to the summary rules. These are set out like any other modern rule in sections using the defined terms of the ISAF Equipment Rules of Sailing. The latter is basically a dictionary defining what you mean by a hull or mast, to be used if there is a need to interpret the written rules.
The basic rule is very simple. It is an open or development rule where anything not prohibited or restricted is permitted. All but the rig, rigging and sails etc shall fit in a measurement box whose inside dimensions are 305 x 305 x153 millimetres. The rudder may overhang 51mm and bowsprits and bumpkins may project through slots on the centreline of the measurement box. Radio gear is restricted to 2 channels, but must be powered by 4 AA batteries. Only 2 rigs can be used at an event ensuring minimum cost, but the capability to race in both light and strong wind conditions. The smaller rig and sails must not project more than 305mm above the top of the box.
The summary rules were published on the MYA website in August as part of the parameters for the annual Chris Dicks Design Award. Despite the short time several Footy designs were presented, some of existing boats and others that were brand new designs. The current publicity has created a great deal of enthusiasm for these little boats with lots of new designs being developed and plenty of school children making them! The summary rules are published here and these together with the Class Rules for both radio and free sailing versions are available from the MYA website, www.mya-uk.org.uk .
As a result of the current work on the class rules, a Footy Class Association has been established with the initial basic task of creating a register for existing and new Footy boats. Owners should contact the registrars in their country for a registration number. Membership is achieved by merely registering your Footy.