THE HISTORY OF THE 8mRs
by Daniel Gilles
Created in 1906 in London by the International Rating Authorities, the 8mR Class is placed between the 6m the 8mR Class. In fact, these sailboats are approximately 14 meters long. The 8 meter rating is the result of a mathematical formula which factors in elements pertaining to the hull and the sails such as length at waterline, sail area, freeboard dimensions or the dimension of the immersed hull. The formula is comprehensive since it establishes the yacht’s overall design, including her many sails, capable of moving powerfully as she stays beautifully close to the wind. Its power and elegance make for an exceptional sailboat to be manned with a crew of 6 or 7, a top choice in the traditional regatta environment.
The 8mR were, and remain, the choice of kings. During the 1920s, several sovereigns ran against their subjects in fabulous races in Norway (“Sira” -1927- belongs to King Harald V), in Denmark, in England and in Spain (“Hispania IV” -1927- is owned by Tan Raffray, coordinator of the 2014 World Cup at la Trinité sur Mer). A number of aristocrats and captains of industry have maintained a passionate relationship with outstanding regatta yacht, amongst whom the Rothschild family, Baron Alfred Krupp of Germany, Marcus Wallenberg of Sweden, Carl Siemens … In France, Virginie Hériot, the famous “Madame la mer” won a gold medal at the 1928 Olympics on board the 8mR “Aile VI” which today, having been completely restored in 1994, still sails under the flag of the Perrin family.
In 1908 the 8mR was designated an Olympic boat and retained this status until 1936. 170 boats; located in 22 countries are accounted for today. There are those in northern Europe, mostly in England, as well as in southern Europe including Switzerland, Italy, Spain and France. Fleets are developing in North America; mostly on Lake Ontario in Rochester, New York and in Toronto, Canada. The geographical distribution of this fabulous fleet is such that it has dictated the organization of two main World Cups which are alternately held on each side of the Atlantic.
During the course of its evolution, the 8mR Class has adapted itself to new technology while remaining loyal to the spirit which prevailed at the time of its creation. The International Eight Metre Association (IEMA), directing the Class organization worldwide, has established three separate series to allow for the cohabitation de boats different in age and in technology. The first two series include entities built before 1960 which are divided into two categories: Vintage and Classic/Sira.The Modern series is comprised of boats built since 1960. Simply stated, the Vintage series are boats which have been restored identically to initial specifications, neither their sails nor their riggings are made of composite materials. Although the Siras have retained their old hull, some of the boats have had recourse to contemporary technology as regards their rigging, that is, Kevlar and Mylar for the sails, aluminum mast, and hydraulic mast setting mechanisms. As regards the Modern series, built since 1960, the boats take advantage of the latest technological discoveries such as finned keels, huge two-meter deep rudders, aluminum and composite materials for the hull (use of carbon is forbidden).
Average characteristics of the Contemporary (Modern) 8mR (This is not a series boat, its specifications comply with its rating criteria, thus each boat is different)
Length overall (LOA): about 14 m
Length waterline (LWL): 9.50 to 9.75 m
Beam: 2.45 m
Draught : 2 m
Displacement: 8600 to 9200 kg of which 75% ballast
Sail Area: approximately 80 sq.m. close hauled (210 sq.m. off the wind)