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New Olympic Womens skiff off to a fast start - sailing in 19 countries

by Sail-World on 24 Oct 2012
FX sailing off Takapuna, Auckland with Alex Maloney and Molly Meech © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Since its selection as the new Olympic Women's Skiff in may, the 49erFX has experienced phenomenal growth, and is already sailing in 19 countries.

By the end of October 135 rigs will have been shipped, to 21 countries, with an apportionment scheme still in place, as is normal with the start of a new Olympic class.

At the end of September there were already FX sailing in 19 different countries. The initial aim was to ship four rigs per country, but as the demand matures, Mackay Boats who have been leading the project report that several countries have more than the standard allocation of four rigs.

In Britain, ten rigs have been shipped and nine have gone to Australia.

One of the Class builders, Dave Mackay says the concept of the 49erFX has been well received and they have had a lot of positive feedback.

'ISAF made absolutely the best decision to use the 49er platform for the Womens skiff because the class is up and running within six months of the decision. The equipment was supplied and allocated in a controlled manner with equal opportunity for every country.'

A class association has been established under the auspices of the Olympic 49er. The 49erFX Vice President is Kristen Lane (USA) and she sits on the 49er class Board. She has a background in skiffs has included the 29er, 29erXX

The class rules have also been finalised.

'The women have been given the option of staying within the 49er class, or running their class as a separate entity', says Mackay. So far the joint arrangement seems to have worked well and the two classes will have a joint world championship in Marseille, France in September 2013.

Several of top women sailors have opted to try the 49erFX ahead of the 2016 Olympics.

'The fact that they can put a 49erFX rig onto a second hand 49er hull has really lowered the entry price,'says Mackay, 'to the point where the second hand 49er market has been virtually cleaned out.'

The concept of supplying a rig costing only USD7,000 has meant that with a good second hand market in operation, then entry price of a boat is less than $15,000.

In her first newsletter to the class, Kristen Lane reports on the rapid take-up for the new class.

'As teams awaited the arrival of the first FX rigs, many took the water in standard 49ers - some used modified sails, other used a third trapeze line, but it’s clear the selection of the 49erFX has encouraged many women around the world to go for the skiff in 2016.'

'A measure of the excitement for the FX can be seen on Facebook where 'FX Team Pages' are popping up like flowers in spring. Even more prevalent on the Facebook landscape are photos of teams on their 'first sail' in their new 49erFX. It’s inspiring to see fellow athletes heading out on their new Olympic equipment. As a competitor, I look forward to Sail Melbourne, Miami OCR, and Palma where we expect the FX to make a big splash on the ISAF Sailing World Cup. We could see large fleets at each event' Lane says.

2013 class championships have been approved and include:
Europeans – June 29 – July 7, Aarhus, Denmark
World Championship – September 21 – 29, Marseille, France

The 49er FX is going to use Social Media to help sailors, fans, and family members stay in touch with the latest class news, information and event results.

Here are some important addresses:

Class Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/49ersailing?ref=ts
49erFX/49er Class Website: http://www.49er.org/
Class Blog (where lively discussions are taking place right now): http://www.49er.org/index.php/blogs

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