For better or for worse 2010 brought us the first exclusively multihull Americas Cup and the promise of more to come. The old mug reaches deep into the subconscious of every racing sailor but is it possible that this turn of events is already starting to change the demographic for racing sailors?
Again this year I have ranked the top 25 One-Design classes in North America based on a three year average number of participants at class championships. I say welcome to the first One-Design Survey of the new epoch, year 1 AM (After Monohulls). Yes it’s a bold and not particularly well founded statement but maybe it’s possible that all of your previous experiences have taken place in the epoch Before Catamarans (BC). Maybe this year’s survey begins to support my capricious assertion that we are at the dawning of a new era. If not it will at least make for some good forum fodder.
While not exactly crowding out the top of the list, catamarans have made a measurable surge this year with three classes (up from one) in the top 25. The three classes are the Hobie Cat 16, Formula 18 and the A Class Catamaran.
Complete results are below followed by an explanation of how the ranking is calculated.
Let me review the un-scientific method for determining this list of the top twenty five one-design classes in North America. What I have done is taken the number of boats competing in each class North American or National Championships for each year. The location of the championship is also included. I think this is a good measure of relative class size and activity. To rank the classes I use the average number of boats over the last three years. Classes don’t technically need to be strict one-design so long as all the boats are designed to a rule and not a handicap.
This list has some notable exceptions. The first is that there are no junior classes on the list. I define a junior class as a class that has a maximum age requirement in their rules. Both the 29er and the Butterfly slip under the bar on this one.
I have also not included ice boats. If I had the DN would be at the top of the list every year and is by far the worlds most popular ice boat.
I have excluded jr classes and ice boats not because I have any inherent prejudice against them but because you don't need a survey to tell you what classes are at the top of these segments of the sport. As I mentioned the DN is the top ice boat every year and since it is sailed on a different surface than soft water boats they are not really in competition with the classes on this list. A similar thing is true with jr classes. There is a small number of them and it's relatively easy to figure out what jr boats are most widely sailed.
In my opinion the list that I've presented here is where the class warfare is taking place. These classes are more or less in direct competition with one another for market share in the one-design racing world.
Another metric I’m looking at as of last year is what I call a One-Design Index. It sums the top 25 National or North American events by participation to come up with the number. Results from 2003 are below.