The FD class throughout the world has become stronger since leaving the Olympics after 1992. In 2011 at Malcesne, Italy the FD class had their largest fleet ever of 135 boats. In 2013 in Hungary a strong fleet of 90 boats from 18 countries competed in a highly contested and close championship. Strong international fleets in Europe tend to dominate the World Championships, with the Hungarian combination of Szabolcs Majthenyi and Andras Domokas having won 7 of the last 10 world championships, but with strong competition from Germany, Holland and Italy that dominance looks to change.
The returning of the worlds to Sydney has also caused a resurgence of new builds. Cox/Bevis have a new carbon Mader imported from Germany, imported with an identical sister ship to be sailed by former 505 sailor Michael Nolan and Matthew Moore. Four locally built new FD’s are also under construction. These recent upgrades have made second boats available to new sailors joining the fleet, including 505 sailors Michael Babbage and James McAllister who won the 2013 505 national championships. From Victoria will be former FD national champions Peter Bartels and Stewart Edgar. The local competition will be intense, and will be tested at the NSW state championships as part of the Sydney International regatta on 2-5 December followed by the Australian Championships between 28 and 30 December 2014.
The influx of new carbon boats has been assisted by a strong Australian dollar and competition between German and Italian builders, improving quality and maintaining costs. A new FD costs about the same as a new 505, and less than many skiffs. An additional advantage for local fleet numbers has been the competitiveness of older boats. At the 2013 national championships, Cox and Bevis in a borrowed 1988 Mader won 4 heats, showing the speed and competitiveness of older boats against the brand new products. As a consequence there is a strong second hand boat market in Europe and good quality competitive boats can be purchased for around A$5-10,000.
One significant change in the FD fleet in recent years was the move to carbon masts in 2007, significantly reducing the weight and flexibility of the rigs. This has increased performance, but more importantly permitted a wider range of crew weights to be competitive. Top crews can be as light as 85-90kg in recent years, with appropriate mast and sail combinations, unlike the bad old days of the Olympics when all top crews were over 100kg and 6” 4’. This has really levelled the playing field to a wide range of everyday weekend sailors, and the end result has been larger international fleets.
The class has already attracted some interest from sponsors as well, with the newest Australian watch brand Bausele (www.bausele.com.au) coming on board to support the class and the Worlds, and a few others keen to market themselves amongst a truly world class group of sailors at one of Australia’s premier yacht clubs.