6 Metre (keelboat)

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International Six Metre Class are class of racing yachts. Six Metre boats (often called 6mR) are a construction class, meaning that the boats are not identical but are all designed to meet specific measurement formula, in this case International Rule. At their heyday, Sixes were the most important international yacht racing class, and they are still actively raced around the world. "Six metre" in class name does not, somewhat confusingly, refer to length of the boat, but product of the formula; 6mR boats are, on average, 10-11 metres long.


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France Mac Miche. Gold medalist at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm
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Danish Nurdug II. Silver medalist at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm

The International Rule was set up in 1907 to replace earlier, simpler handicap system which were often local or at best, national, and often also fairly simple, producing extreme boats which were fast but lightly constructed and impractical. Six Metre class was the smallest rating established under the rule and thus most popular, and they were chosen as an Olympic class in 1908 Summer Olympics. However, it was not until revision of the Rule in 1920 when the Sixes really became popular international racing class. 1920s and '30s were 'golden age' of the Metre Rule boats and Sixes were most popular class, attracting top sailors and designers to compete from prestigious trophies such as Scandinavian Gold Cup and Olympic medals.

Alexander Robertson and Sons Ltd (Yachtbuilders) produced a total of five 6-Metre yachts between 1921 and 1953. In 1937 their young naval architect David Boyd designed the sleek 6-Metre racing yacht Circe, which was described by many as the most successful racing yacht produced at the yard. Mr J. Herbert Thom, one of the Clyde's best helmsmen sailed the yacht with tremendous success in America in 1938 and brought back the Seawanhaka Cup, which was successfully defended in home waters the following year. In later years Circe represented Russia in the 1952 Summer Olympics.

However, Sixes were also criticized as too expensive and towards the end of 1930s they became more so, making the class too exclusive. Already in 1929, 5 Metre class was established as a cheaper and smaller alternative for Sixes, but the final blow was creation of International 5.5 metre class in 1949. 5.5 m soon replaced 6mR as the premier international racing class, and after 1952 Helsinki Olympics Sixes were dropped from Olympic regattas. The Gold Cup was also transferred to 5.5 m class from 1953 onwards.

Despite this, class continued to exist, and new boats were made utilising newest contemporary technologies, although sparingly. During 1980s, many old sailboat classes experienced revival of interest and Sixes were at the forefront of this development. The Class has undergone a renaissance which has continued to the day, with many old yachts restored or rebuilt to racing condition, and 6mR competition is once again thriving. Performance differences between classic and modern era Sixes are usually small and they can be raced together.

The 6 Metre Class is one of the potential Vintage Yachting Classes for the 2012 Vintage Yachting Games.


Several variations of the rule have been developed to meet specific criteria. Perhaps the best known is International One Design class, which was based on 6mR boat Saga.

See also

External links

is:6 mR fi:6mR sv:R 6