The 49er is a type of skiff sailboat
. It is 4.9 meters in length, hence its name. It recently made its Olympic debut at the Summer games in Sydney. Its full specs are:
The 49er was desiggned primarily by Julian Bethwaite and his father Frank. Both have been involved in Australian 18ft Skiff racing for many years. The 49er is a direct outgrowth of their 18ft designs. It main feature is its hull shape, which has very low resistance to planning, this is what makes it a true skiff. What this means is that as the hull accelerates through the water there is not a large jump in drag before the boat planes. This so called "speed hump" is a common feature of most hulls.
The boat itself is fairly radical looking. It is crewed by two people, both on trapezes. It features an assymetrical spinaker with a retracting bowsprit. The boat is capable of travelling faster than 25 knots. This isn't very fast compared to land based vehicles, but when you are on the boat it is an incredible feeling.