Seattle Boat Show Features the History of the International 14
Fast racing boat part of One Design display planned for annual event
SEATTLE – An exhibit featuring the history and technology of one of the world’s most unique sailboats is being planned for the 2008 Seattle Boat Show, January 24 – February 2 at Qwest Field Event Center. The International 14 (I14) uses modern sailing technology, yet the boat has roots over 100 years old. The show display includes a classic mahogany I14, as well as the latest generation carbon fiber boat, and is part of a larger display highlighting “One Design” sail boats.
“Sailing is an important part of boating in the Northwest and a key component to the Seattle Boat Show,” says George Harris, boat show director. “With more than 50 sailboats planned indoors at Qwest Field Event Center and afloat on South Lake Union, there should be something for every sailor to see. The I14 display gives us an opportunity to showcase a special segment of sailing.”
Sailors in the local I14 fleet are organizing the show display.
“The International 14 is a boat that may surprise you,” says Ken Hey, Seattle I14 fleet captain. “It is a sail boat, but can be as fast as a waterski. The people who sail them are definitely adrenaline junkies, but most are not the profile you might expect.”
Other boats included in the One Design exhibit include a J24, an Etchells and a Thistle.
About the I14
The I14 has thrived over the decades by having a few simple rules, such as the length and sail area, but encouraging rapid evolution. This may be as far from one-design as you can get while still calling it the same boat, but it has fueled innovation and continued energy in the fleet. The boat is completely carbon fiber, utilizes the latest America’s Cup technologies and is the breeding ground for new sailing innovations. The boat is 14 ft long, 164 lbs, uses a crew of 2 on trapeze, and has 550 sq ft of sail (which is comparable sail area to a 3,100 lb J24). To compare to a familiar dingy, a Laser is 13.1 ft, 130 lbs with 76 ft of sail.
Top speeds have been clocked with a radar gun at 26 knots (30mph). The boat can sail faster than the wind and starts planing in less than 7 knots of wind at all points of sail. The light air performance makes this boat ideal for the typical wind conditions in Seattle of 5-15 knots.
The boat uses a unique rudder with a 5 ft controllable wing foil, which acts like an elevator on an airplane, and creates a lifting hydro-foiling effect at high speed. Some boats control the rudder foil by twisting the 7 ft tiller extension. The asymmetrical spinnaker uses a retractable pole and is easily launched from a sock in the fore section.
Every boat is unique, which makes regattas interesting at the dock as well as on the water. Each boat is semi-custom, starting from the latest hull shape mold, such as the Bieker 5, and outfitted to the desire of the owner. Most sailors start by buying a used boat in partnership with their crew for about $9000, and may eventually step up to a new boat for about $35,000. Like golf, the equipment is not overly important to performance compared to skill.
The I14 History
The early history of the I14 began in Australia 100 years ago, when locals were competing to offload cargo from ships that entered the harbor. The first ones to the ship got the business, which encouraged the development of an over-powered, lightweight, high-speed sailing dinghy.
The formal I14 class was founded in England 75 years ago, and was one of the very first classes of sailing dinghies. Trapezes were tried first in the 1930’s, and the boats evolved from mahogany to fiberglass to carbon over the next decades. Fleets are found around the world, especially along the west coast, Canada, Australia, and Europe.
The Seattle Fleet began 60 years ago at Leschi on Lake Washington, and moved to Shilshole in 1967. The fleet owns their own docks at the Shilshole marina, which enables boats to be stored fully rigged and quickly launched . Most of the sailing is done during informal Thursday night races and four local weekend regattas, but some sailors participate in regattas along the west coast, as well as exotic destinations worldwide. The 2007 National Championships were held at Shilshole this past October, with winds topping 30 knots.
The I14 Sailors
The unique aspects of the I14 have attracted a unique and diverse group of sailors. Instead of just professionals, the fleet has attracted a wide range sailors including architects, attorneys, CEO’s, and engineers. Most fleet members are in their 30’s and 40’s, with young families. Experience ranges from new skiff sailors to world champions. In fact, the top 3 positions at the National Championships this year were all Seattle sailors. The Seattle fleet is also fortunate to have the leading designer of the I14’s, Paul Bieker. Paul has been a key designer for the Oracle America’s Cup campaign for the last several years, and has transferred technology between I14’s and AC boats. The I14 fleet members love talking about their boats, and like sharing tips with others. New members are welcomed and coached by all. This collaboration has kept the Seattle fleet one of the leading fleets worldwide.
About the Seattle Boat Show
The 61st Annual Seattle Boat Show, Thursday, January 24 – Saturday, February 2, features more than 1,000 boats – including fishing boats, inboard cruisers, runabouts, kayaks, sailboats and inflatables – hundreds of accessories, the latest high-tech innovations, and hundreds of hours of seminars at Qwest Field Event Center plus 200 world-class boats in their natural habitat at Chandler’s Cove on South Lake Union. A free shuttle runs continuously between both locations. The Seattle Boat Show is presented by GMC. Ace Marine Insurance is an official sponsor of the show.
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