This year so far, two more Australian boats have launched and are currently sailing with another
due to splash soon. Dozens more are in various stages of their own i550 builds down under. In
the States and in Canada, there are currently about 18 or more in building, and one launched this
past summer in North America. And there are at least three more very close to seeing the water
here in the States.
Many of the European builds are going along quietly and we look forward to
learning of the first and subsequent launches there. Korea has a group of enthusiasts, with one
boat in construction with more to follow.
Worldwide, there are now close to 250 sets of plans in 28 or more countries. All this activity has
taken place virally in a bit more than two years. By our count more than 10 percent of the plan
sets are in build stages. We don’t know what the statistics are for home built boat completion is,
but the focus these builders have brought to the class is the essence of Anarchy. And
remarkably, most of the growth of the i550 class can be directly linked back to those wild and
crazy visionaries at Sailing Anarchy.
Our builders are an interesting group, willing to share knowledge and sources without
reservation. Discussions on keels, masts, nylon cable ties versus copper wire for stitching
plywood panels before gluing, bow sprit arrangements for fixed or articulated poles and on and
on . . . everything is offered up freely. Check out the i550.org site for the forums, build blogs,
the rules and most everything i550. The i550 is sort of a phenomenon, for the very reason that in
this age of ready-made everything, it has found fertile ground within the sailing community and
has grown faster than H1N1 is mutating.
Is there any other boat, especially one that you have to build yourself, that has enjoyed this kind
of mania in its early stages? And what makes the i550 so attractive that someone wold commit to
a winter’s worth of evenings and weekends? Beyond low cost, the prime motivation is a way-
cool, stinkin-fast ride.