The metre boats continue to delight, over 100 years since they first sailed. Fleet racing at Cowes Classics Week will be organised for the Daring class (glass 5.5mRs) classic and modern 6mR, 8mR and 12mR. Never fear - all metre boats are welcome and appropriate racing will be organised for 5mR, 5.5mR and 10mR if they wish to enter.
In 1906 in London, a uniform measurement rule was agreed to. The yachtsmen who conferred in London were enthusiastic at their success and in 1907 the sailing rules were adopted, and the International Yacht Racing Union was formed, comprising all the maritime nations of Europe interested in yachting.
The original International Rule for Measurement of Yachts, also known as the Metre Rule, was created to provide a means whereby yachts of similar size could race together on level terms without the need for handicaps or time allowances, but at the same time be flexible enough to allow the development of yacht design. The measurements of a yacht wishing to compete in one of the several different sized classes has to equal the figure set for that class by the International Rule's mathematical formula. In addition, the light construction of yachts then racing had proved unsatisfactory and the Rule required, as the latest version of the Rule still does, that boats be built to scantling rules, construction methods, panel weights and materials specified by Lloyd's, thus ensuring that boats were built to last. Changes in rig, mast and sail material mean that Classic boats are now much more powerful than originally envisaged and it says a lot for the original formation of the Rule, the designs, and the love of owners for their boats, that the Classics are still able to race competitively.
Since the first rule was written, metre boats have been at the forefront of yacht development - they were amongst the first boats sailing in the Olympics, right from the 1908 London Olympics (where the sailing took place from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club off Ryde on the Isle of Wight) until 1968 in Mexico; the 6mR were used for the British - American Cup through the 1930’s (team racing and an event far more prestigious than the America's Cup in its day), some of the 23mR were converted to 'J' Class yachts and the 12mR were the boats used to challenge for the America's Cup once racing started again after the Second World War and until a more modern derivative was designed 30 years later. The 8mR have been the first choice boat for many European royalty.
There has been a real resurgence of interest in The Metre Boats with many old boats being restored, new boats being built and some of the mega-stars of the sailing world choosing metre boats for their personal sailing.