In the area of strictly serious leading-edge racing, things become more complicated. There is more pressure making it hard for the one-design principle to work but the reward of close racing without handicap is equally attractive.
In the past there have been a number of offshore racing one-designs, and the excellent ones have remained popular for a number of years before their appeal has declined. In Britain, the [ OOD 34 ] , designed by Doug Petersen, had an enthusiastic acceptance by members of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) during the late 1970s and for 10 years after remained popular and competitive. Receiving bad press after the disastrous 1979 Fastnet Race, it was claimed that light and beamy boats of this type had the tendency of rolling right over and not righting themselves.
Paradoxically, by 1990s standards the OOD 34, was neither particularly light nor particularly beamy, but this jolted the RORC into introducing a stability screening test to ensure all boats entering its races had sufficient stability for safety. The yachts were required to be built by an 'approved' builder who was to ensure that all the hulls were as close in weight as possible and the equipment fitted was to an extent, the same.
It was imperative that such a boat as this should have an 'afterlife' and not suddenly lose value when raced as a one-design class. The OOD 34 was successful in achieving this and owners still race their yachts today under handicap.
The story of the [ Mumm 36 ] is different, where the RORC promoted it from the beginning as a boat suitable to race in the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup. A design competition produced the winner - a Bruce Farr design being leading edge and capable of winning at the highest level under handicap as well as sailing as a one-design. This resulted in characteristics that do not make the boat eye-catching to the private owner and go against the boat having an 'afterlife'.
The Mumm 36 to race successfully, needed to carry the maximum permitted crew weight and crew selection entailed carefully weighing all candidates and selecting a team with the correct total weight. The fin keel is exceptionally narrow and deep and limits the areas where the boat can be moored and raced. The unraked keel with a bulb at the base has a tendency to pick up weed and the accommodation is limited not allowing the boat to be adapted as a cruiser-racer.
When the Mumm 36 made its debut, it inspired professional skippers and crews. The standard of sailing is so high that owners were relegated to the position of paymaster. One sign of this exclusivity is that Mumm 36s very seldom turn out for weekend events as it is expensive to put the boat into commission and the owner is not inclined to do this except for a fairly major event.
In normal mixed racing, they have difficulty beating yachts which have handicap advantages such as cruiser-racer allowances, age allowance and polyester sail allowance. Their status as a pure racer leaves them somewhat disadvantaged in the rigours of ordinary racing where they are expected to win and are rebuked when failing to do so.
It is a different proposition for larger sizes of one-design where the [ Corel 45 ] has sufficient size that the crew weight does not consist of a high a proportion of the displacement. A high ratio of ballast to displacement and the crew weigh factor combines to make the yacht less sensitive to crew weight changes. In a size and price range that makes it usual to have a proportion of non-professional crew, enables the owner to play a part in the boat’s operation.
Costs associated with in the campaign of a yacht of this class are alarming, especially when involved in a kind of circuit of racing internationally. This usually involves transporting the boat from regatta to regatta, and where schedules make it impossible to transport a boat by water will involve shipping or overland trucking. When racing the crew normally expects the owner to pay for travel and accommodation and there is the continuous expenditure on berthing, maintenance, and a supply of new sails.
Leading-edge racing boats tend to lose value very quickly but if the designer and the sponsoring club have taken all the contingencies in to consideration, then the racing life will extend for some years and considerable enduring value.