on the way to evil

“Racing, no doubt, has improved the form and build of yachts, for racing means competition and therefore improvement. It is only when competition is not properly controlled that it becomes evil. Just as the English turf’s undue encouragement of short races gave us a wretched weedy class of thoroughbred, so in yachting a badly considered rule of measurement has resulted in our racing yachts becoming ‘junks of lead bolted on to a superstructure of wood’ that I venture to say, at least among the decked class, are not perfectly seaworthy.

We have heard of three-tonners being built on the Clyde, 60 feet overall with only 3 or 4 feet beam, and 11 feet depth. We may as well go to sea on the back of a knife as in a craft of that sort. Seeing that this infection has reached our doors it behooves our racing authorities to see that it does not spread.”

Keel Issues – The Sydney Mail (1884)

(Appeals to the authorities to ban or penalize extreme design developments through handicapping are as old as the sport itself. The narrow-beamed, deep-keeled “breadboard” sloops certainly provoked controversy, but they also gave Australia such classic little racing yachts as Kelpie – above – and Sao.)