Identifying an Unknown Boat

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The construction materials give clues regarding the construction date of boats intended for racing. The following is a rough guide.

Timber hull – cotton sails – timber spars – gaff rigged – pre-1920.

Timber hull – cotton sails – timber spars – sloop rigged – pre-1945.

Timber hull – synthetic semi transparent sails with hooks on the luffs – painted metal spars – pre-1965

Glass fibres hull – synthetic opaque sails – aluminium spars – pre-1985

Carbon fibre hull – synthetic opaque sails – carbon spars – pre-1995

Carbon fibre hull – film semi transparent sails – carbon spars – post-1995

Identifying an unknown boat is usually simple if the boat has been measured and given a certificate in any of the classes supported by the MYA.

Recently measured boats i.e. those given a certificate after 1994 (and some from before that date), will have a hull identification number engraved, laminated or painted into the hull. This is normally on the inside but may be on the deck. There may also be a display of the same number in self-adhesive numbers on the deck. Some boats will have a builder’s label laminated into the hull. Once you know what class the boat is, please contact the class registrar – here – quoting the data and he should be able to help with more information.

Earlier measured boats i.e. those given a certificate before 1994, will be easy to identify if their sails have a sail number.  Again, please contact the class registrar quoting the data you have.

The dimensions of the hull and its rig also give clues regarding the class of boat. The following is a rough guide based on the largest rig/sails for classes that have bene used in the UK since the 1930s.

Class Hull Length Min Hull Length Max Weight Min Weight max Mast above deck Sail Area Min Sail Area Max
mm mm kg kg mm m^2 m^2
36” 900 940 3.5 5.5 1800 0.5 0.75
IOM 990 1000 4 4 1700 0.62 0.62
M 1270 1290 4.5 10 2160 0.6 0.7
10R 1400 2200 5 15 2150 0.8 1.1
6M 1450 1650 11 13 1810 0.8 0.9
A Class 1650 2500 13 35 2160 1 1.3

Where no hull or sail identification exists you may be able to get help by posting photos of the boat. Show the following:

  • profile, plan and end on views of the hull, keel and rudder
  • profile view of the rig
  • details of the deck fittings, rig fittings and steering gear

If the boat is a vintage style hull send the photos to the Vintage Model Yachting Group – here.

If the boat a more modern send the photos to the MYA Boat Identification Forum – here.

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