There were 13 designs in Santander for the recent ISAF evaluation trials, all competing for just two spots for the 2016 Olympic Games: Women's Skiff and Mixed Multihull. The skiffs saw a six-way battle with four of the boats being completely new designs, while the multihulls saw seven contenders, but just one brand-new specifically-designed boat. The Evaluation Panel has recommended just four boats should go through…

RS900 and Mackay FX top the skiffs
ISAF's report states: "The Evaluation Panel is unanimous in recommending that one of two boats is selected as the Equipment for the Women’s Skiff event in the 2016 Olympic Sailing competition. These two boats are: Mackay FX and RS900. It is recommended that none of the remaining boats presented in the 2012 Evaluation Event is considered
for selection as Olympic equipment at this time."

Looking at the statistics following the sailor feedback, this decision makes sense. Of the completely new designs the 900 was the only one to make a real impact, while the Mackay FX (a 49er hull with a smaller rig and a few little tweaks) scored very well. Looking at the sailor feedback the FX looks like the definite favourite as it has the advantage of using the existing 49er hull.


Shortlisted: our favourite, but will it make the cut?

Plus points and minus points
ISAF's report states that both boats fit the established criteria, require skillsets which exactly parallel those for the Men’s Skiff, have visual and practical affinity with the Men’s Skiff equipment and have suppliers with a proven track-record for quality and global supply.

It points out that the Mackay FX: "Offers the advantages of a providing a common platform with the Men’s Skiff event," but that, "The Mackay FX is bigger and heavier. It will suit crews at the upper end of weight range criteria."

Of the 900 it points out that it was "designed specifically to fit the published criteria for the Women’s Skiff event... is lighter and smaller... is expected to suit a crew weight well within the critera."

Multihull shortlist: Nacra 17 and Viper
ISAF's report on the mulitihull classes states: The Evaluation Panel recommend consideration of two of the entrants, the Nacra 17 and the Viper. The clear preference of the MNA Sailors and the Evaluation Panel was the innovative new Nacra 17.
Designed specifically for the Mixed Multihull criteria the Evaluation Panel concluded the Nacra 17 is seen as the best option." The report goes on to say: "Of the six other entrants, the Viper was the second choice of the MNA Sailors. As an existing ISAF Class,
with over 50 boats waiting in stock, the Viper offers a rapid implementation. The MNA sailor feedback was that some felt that they were at the upper limit of the competitive combined crew weight."

Nacra 17

The sailors' choice - the Nacra 17

Taking a punt
My personal take would be that the 900 is the better boat for purpose, but the FX is likely to be ISAF's selection due to price considerations. I would vote 900.

With regards to the multihull, I think the Nacra 17 really should be selected, but ISAF could be swayed by the existing Viper fleets. I would vote Nacra.

However, this is ISAF, and many times in the past we have seen politics get in the way of what the sailors or the individual panels or committees recommend. ISAF's May meeting isn't far away… the bets are on.

To read more about the skiff designs that took part in the trials see An Olympic Skiff for women: the six contenders, and to see details of all the multihulls see Seven multihulls line up in Santander.


Written by: Gael Pawson
Gael Pawson is the editor of Yachts & Yachting Magazine and the founder of Creating Waves. A keen racer, she has sailed all her life, and started writing about the subject whilst studying journalism at university. Dinghies and small keelboats are her first loves, but she has cruised and raced a huge variety of boats in locations across the world.