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|Crew||2 (double trapeze)|
|LOA||4,876 mm (16 ft)|
1,752 mm (5 ft 9 in)
2,743 mm (9 ft 0 in)
|Draft||1,447 mm (4 ft 9 in)|
|Hull weight||74.25 kg (163.7 lb)|
|Main & Jib area||19.97 m2 (215 sq ft)|
|Spinnaker area||37.16 m2 (400 sq ft)|
The 49er is a newer one-design class of small sailing dinghy. It is a double handed twin trapeze boat, meaning that it is sailed by a helm and a crew, the helm making many tactical decisions, as well as steering, and the crew doing most of the sail control. The design, by Julian Bethwaite, the son of Frank Bethwaite, (the designer of the popular Tasar and Laser 2 classes), is revolutionary. The boat is experiencing an increase in popularity due to its selection as an Olympic class starting with the Sydney Olympics of 2000. The boat has recently received a new rig design, including a larger fully carbon mast and square top mainsail.
The 49er marked an advance in dinghy engineering. Based on the Aussie 18s, Julian Bethwaite made several changes to the evolution of high performance sailing. By replacing the spinnaker pole with an asymmetrical spinnaker system which comes straight out of the bow, it facilitates higher speeds and greater ease at flying it.
Another innovative feature is the gust response built into the rig. The deflection of the mast progressively from the top downwards due to the increase in the wind speed causes the sail to flatten, reducing the sail forces. This is an important part of the 49er design and is now used on many skiff designs. The use of solid wings, rather than tubes as on similar boats (RS 800 etc), aids sailors new to the world of skiff racing whilst facilitating rapid movement across the 49er during maneuvers.
The 49er's performance is impressive: In upwind+downwind short course racing on enclosed waters in moderate to fresh winds, the best-sailed 49ers will comfortably keep up with the best-sailed 18 ft skiffs. The 49er is only 15'8" in water line length, and has only 85% of the power to weight of the 18 ft skiff. It can achieve such high performance thanks mostly to its low drag design.
The 49er made its first olympic appearance at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and has continued to grow in popularity ever since.
With a Portsmouth yardstick Handicap of 688 the 49er is the fastest two person one-design monohull dinghy.
The 29er is a smaller, single trapeze trainer to the 49er. It has become popular in North America, Europe and Australia as a fast exciting youth boat. Recently the 29erXX, a twin trapeze version of the 29er, has been produced with a rig very similar to the 49er.
Other International sailing dinghies