IOM Class

Radio sailing at Seattle Model Yacht Club is as vibrant as ever, and it has a great vane and radio sailing history. 2010 marks the addition of an active International One Meter (IOM) fleet, in addition to the well-established Victoria fleet on Greenlake. Our first Can-Am regatta was in March, and we have had regular regattas locally and regionally since. Locally we’re having fun sailing these thoroughbred yachts cleanly and competitively in three special radio sailing venues. At each venue we’re on a walkway away from shore, every month March – October. Then in winter it is limited to Whidbey Island where they just don’t know when to stop. Our local venues:

  • Coulon Park in Renton, WA:   This exceptional Lake Washington park is our SMYC home for IOMs. We sail on big deep open water. Often we are more of a “speed” course, but wind shifts and powerboat waves keep it all interesting enough.
  • Surprise Lake in Milton, WA:   Gig Harbor MYC’s long-time home is a large pond with frequent “surprising” wind shifts. Twist the sails off a little and play those shifts. Joe D’Amico loves it here.
  • Cranberry Lake on Whidbey Is., WA:   The ARCS (Anacortes RC Sailors) home is a good-sized lake off the Straits in timeless Deception Pass State Park. Great sailing, great views, and a great WPA built head to boot.

After nearly every race we’re together having a late lunch and laughing at ourselves in a pub and somehow helping each other sail better. This is a key part of our sailing program. We have a photo intensive bi-monthly newsletter, The IOM Update, keeping us current on schedules, results and more. After one year, we can say that all our Washington IOM skippers first sailed in another class, and nobody has dropped their previous class sailing to participate in IOMs.

Contact:     Fleet Captain Bob Wells @ 206-232-9036 -or-

Rod Carr, Carr Sails, @ 425-881-2846.

What is an IOM? It is an ISAF sanctioned box rule that has created the most popular radio sailboat in the world with hundreds of different designs and thousands of yachts since its introduction in 1984. Why is this class so popular? Versatility is a key component. The rules allow for three rigs, ranging in size from 800 square inches to 400 square inches for the smallest rig. This allows the boat to be competitively sailed in winds ranging from drifters to 40 mph with chop (Hood River Marina at the Gorge is our regional big breeze example). The rule encourages yachts that withstand the elements – no eggshell hulls here. Others may outperform the IOM in isolated conditions, but a well sailed IOM is consistently fast in all conditions. The thrill one derives from having a boat blast down the back of a wave, disappear save for the top of the mast, and reappear down the course is addictive!

How do I get one? The rules allow for home construction as long as the boats are built to the rather strict IOM box rule. Hull and foil design is open within the rule parameters. Rigs are highly standardized. After 25 plus years it is well established that different hulls and foils can all perform well, plus it allows the tinkerers an outlet to design and build their own boat. For the rest of us, there are many designers and builders around the world who produce quality boats, both in kit form and ready to sail. The cost is say $500 – $5,000 depending on if you build it from scratch, purchased a used one, or purchase the latest hot Euro design pre-assembled. In our first year two skippers assembled their own in the $500 range with one rig. The rest of us purchased used in the $700 – $1,800 range. In BC many competitive IOMs are home built/designed, and we know as we have seen too much of their transoms. The Oregon skippers tend to assemble theirs from Euro kits. We have one local builder in Sequim, Joe Damico, on the cusp of providing new IOMs commercially. Joe’s sail trials are going well so we know he is producing a fast boat.

If you like to travel, this yacht was conceived to travel well and you will have many opportunities. We found in our first year that we mix particularly well with the established fleets in BC and Oregon, and wives and girlfriends tag along because the venues are fun places. This quickly led to forming the 2011 Western CanAm Series with four regattas; including Renton’s Coulon Park, Hood River Marina, and at Ganges Harbor on Saltspring Island. Already well established in the US and Canada is consistent, high quality Regional racing. These are fun regattas with quality race management and competition. Group outings after racing are the norm. It’s not unusual to have competitors from six states or provinces attend a Regional event. US (and CAN) Nationals draw people from further afar, including those from overseas.

IOM racing is not only for the hardcore racer – far from it. Good battles occur in all areas of the fleet, making it fun for everyone. We find that the top guys will willingly help the folks new to the class and those wanting to increase their proficiency. Not that most of us will ever qualify, but the class ISAF World Championship is held bi-annually bringing sailors from all parts of the globe together for five days of competitive racing. We’ll have a better opportunity to participate in Continental Championships, which are held on alternate years. Past Worlds venues are include Canada (Vancouver ‘03), Malta, Australia, Croatia, France, England, and Barbados.

This will get you to a video by Tom Howell of our October 2010 Coulon Park regatta on big Lake washington. It proves that IOMs can move in the light stuff:

This 2011 World Championship regatta in West Kirby, England, shows a higher level of proficincy in higher wind. This 6-day championship with 76 competitors included a visit by the Duke of Edinburgh in celebration of 100 years for GBR’s Model Yacht Association:

Download the Washington state IOM sailing schedule for 2011

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