What is a Six-Metre sailboat and why is it often actually 12 meters long?
Six-Metre sailboats are a construction class. This means that the boats are not identical but are all designed to meet a specific measurement formula, called the International Rule, which came about in 1907. The International Rule was created for the measuring and rating of yachts to allow different designs of yachts to race together under a handicap system. It is important to note the term metre does not refer to the length of the yacht; it is the product of a formula and denotes the class. A Six Metre yacht can be from 10 metres to 12 metres in length.
The Six-Metre class became very popular, and was chosen as an Olympic class in 1908 Summer Olympics.
The 1920-1930s was the “golden age' of the Six-Metre Class, attracting top sailors and designers. However, Sixes were later criticized as too expensive and towards the end of 1930s they became more so, making the class too exclusive.
Already in 1929, 5.5 Metre class was established as a cheaper and
smaller alternative for Sixes, and the last year the Sixes was an event in the Olympics was in 1952.
The U.S. competed in the first Olympic Yachting events held in 1900, but not again until 1928. Their first medal was won in 1932.
The sailing events in the very first modern Olympics in 1886 were cancelled due to weather. The only other year there were no sailing events (other than war time) was in 1904 in St. Louis.
Boothbay Harbor Shipyard is sponsoring the building of the Cherokee, a Six-Metre sailboat at the Museum of Yachting, in Newport this summer. The boat will be completed in time for it to compete in the World Championships for Six-Metre sailing yachts in October 2009 hosted by The Museum of Yachting at Newport, Rhode Island. This will be the first time the United States has hosted the international event since 1987.
We also, have an Olin Stephens designed Six-Metre here at the shipyard ready to be restored. Ciocca II is a 1948 Sparkman & Stevens International Six M. NO 794. There is time to restore this Six-Metre and compete in the 2009 World Championships in Newport.