F16 Class History

Formula 16 is a multi-manufacturer class for beach catamarans, designed for the 21st century.
The F16 design is modern. Gone are the days when a seaworthy 16 foot catamaran had to weigh 150kg and when the use of carbon meant spiralling costs. F16 minimum weight is just 107kg (104kg 1-up) with few restrictions on materials and yet costs are no more than for other race catamarans. The inclusion of an asymmetric spinnaker adds to the excitement.
The F16 design is practical. Do you enjoy sailing as a team but hate getting stranded on the shore when the crew doesn’t show? Do you sail on your own but want the option to take friends and family out occasionally? The F16 is designed to sail equally well 1-up and 2-up, and what’s more both configurations race each other on elapsed time. And at 104kg, the F16 can not only be sailed singlehanded – you can launch and right it on your own too!

The F16 design is fast. A light-weight platform, generous sail areas and an asymmetric spinnaker can mean only one thing: speed. In 2-up mode the F16 races the F18 class on elapsed time – first in wins. In 1-up mode, with asymmetric spinnaker, it races the A-cats on elapsed time.

The Beginning

Early in 2001, a small group of sailors felt the Formula 18/20 and the A-cat classes left a part of the sailor community wanting. A need was felt for a design that could be sailed effectively in both singlehanded and doublehanded. Some expressed a concern that an affordable entry into modern spinnaker sailing was missing. Others felt that the existing Formulas could be improved upon, in particular by reducing weight.  However lightweight classes had been created before and went without much impact. This time something special had to be done to make the newly born Formula 16 class a stayer.

At the time a group of catamaran sailors from the USA, Australia and the Europe were already experimenting on their own with F16 alike setups. These sailors saw the common ground and joined forces in order to work out the international F16 Formula framework and build up the class. Thus, in the spring of 2001 the F16 class was born and the first draft ruleset was made public in July 2001. The “special character” to make the class a stayer was found some months later. It was discoverd that the F16’s were capable of performing on a level with the A-cats and F18’s in respectively the singlehanded and doublehanded setup. F16’s could race both of them without the need for handicap calculations. Also the two setups of the F16’s can race each other on a first in wins as they are that close in overall performance.

The Spirit of the Formula 16 class

The Formula 16 class is building a class that sees competitive sailing on the water and a open relax feel on the beach afterwards. We also seek cooperation between the Formula 16 class and other the formula classes. The Formula 16 class does not believe that the creation of many seperate and mutual exclusive sailing groups is the path to full sailing enjoyment or even improvement of personal sailing skills.

The Formula 16 class also strives to make the F16 racing scene bigger than just racing against other F16’s. Formula 16 is both an open class (handicap) racer as well as a class racer. And recreational sailing is also considered an important part of the F16 sailing. Afterall, we all start out as recreational sailors before we become racing crews and it is what we still do on lazy friday afternoons.These three scenes complement eachother fully and none interferes with the full exploitation of another.

The Formula 16 class aims at helping crews see beyond the self limiting conviction that the chance on success is somehow significantly linked to the type or age of a boat. This policy is based on the realisation that even in one-design classes the difference between the winner and the last finisher is at least 40 % of the elapsed time, while the differences between Formula boats of different age, condition or make is measurend in a few % at maximum;  well maintained boats differ less.

The setup of the Formula 16 class

The target group of the Formula 16 class is a combination of doublehanded and singlehanded sailors. The class aims for the lighter and medium weight crews and especially the mixed crews that typically fall into this weight range. A singlehanded sailor that occasionally or regulary takes somebody along fall right into the target group of the Formula 16 as well.

Official Formula 16 class racing is devided into two sub groups, one doublehanded and one singlehanded setup. Both use a spinnaker. The difference between both setups is found in flying a jib or not.
For recreational sailing or open class (handicapped) racing,  three more setups can be added.: doublehanded or singlehanded sailing without a spinnaker and singlehanding a sloop rigged F16 without a spinnaker but with a selftacking jib. The versatility of the class will be evident. When a crew cancels at the last moment then a sailor can just take off the jib and attend the event in singlehanded mode. When a crew is found at the last moment then switching to the doublehanded setup is a matter of minutes. Many more scenario’s can be thought up. The Formula 16 class box rule regulates then all.

The Formula 16 box rule only limits those dimensions that have an impact on performance and leaves the rest open to personal preference. Gear can be acquired from all suppliers as long as it conforms to the general limits as specified in the Formula 16 rules. Compliance is checked when acquiring a class certificate and at events.

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