A Fast Wooden Racing Sloop
From 1939 to 1968, fleets of Yankees raced at yacht clubs in Beverly, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Cleveland, and San Francisco.
The class was never produced in fiberglass, so the fleets died out and these days Yankees are used for PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) races, classic wooden yacht races, and daysailing.
Only 41 Yankee sailboats have been built since Starling Burgess designed the class in 1937. Less than 20 are still sailing. They are mostly in America, with one in France, and one in New Zealand.
Since there’s no inboard engine or self-draining cockpit, the crew sits deep, keeping the center of gravity low. The Yankee’s low freeboard invites you to trail your hand in the water. It feels good to be connected to the water.
A Spartan Cabin
The racing design makes no compromise for cruising or living-aboard.
Cabins have two berths and a cabinet but no galley, head, or stove. The standing headroom is perfect for a five year old — kids love Yankees.
The exhilaration of sailing a Yankee in a heavy wind has been described as a delightful hint of terror amid feelings of absolute security.
Granted, some sailors are more terrified than others, but pretty much everyone senses that this is a boat you can trust your life with.
The Yankee’s superb handling makes the boat a joy for both experienced sailors and novices. Something about its design makes it come alive in the wind.
A Balanced Helm
These slender boats are 30’6″ overall, with a 6’6″ beam, and a 4’6” draft. Slightly more than half of a Yankee’s 4,775 lbs of displacement is in the lead ballast.
In pre WWII style, the rudder hangs off a rather full cutaway keel. This means you can walk away from the tiller if you set your sails right, or you can fall overboard and the boat will keep sailing without you.
This rudder setup also makes Yankees challenging to steer in reverse.
A Delight in Heavy Weather
The fractional rig, with a boom ending well shy of the transom, makes the YOD challengingly undercanvassed for light winds, but superb in heavy weather.
Yankees want to heel in the slightest breeze. However, their fantastic secondary stability will settle the hull in at solid angle while the sailboat screams along happily and steadfastly in a gale.
This site is an archive of Yankee One Design material from many sailors, around the world and over the years. If you’re a Yankee sailor, we welcome any recollections or information you would like to share.
(The Yankee One Design Class is not to be confused with the fiberglass Sparkman & Stephens’ Yankee 30, manufactured from 1971-1975.)
More about the Yankee One Design Class…
Y43 GEMINI close hauled in a light breeze on its maiden sail. Port Townsend Bay, WA. August, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Becker. blue ACTIVEorange UNDER RESTORATIONgreen FOR SALEblack UNKNOWNred RETIRED Forty-one Yankees have been builtFor those who...
An Anonymous Genius W. Starling Burgess secrectly designed the YOD class during the weeks that he oversaw the construction of the marvelous J-Class Yacht RANGER. Then Burgess oversaw the construction of Y1 YANKEE during the spring and summer of 1937, during the weeks...
Sailboat Racing's One Design Quest One-design sailboat racing came out of England in the late 19th century and caught fire in the United States around the time of the Model-T, when whole fleets were built en masse to save money. The identical boats emphasized a...
Specifications revised to May 1st, 1947 Length overall, about 30′-6″ Length design waterline, about 24′ Beam 6′-6″ Draft design 4′-6″ Sail Area 312 sq. ft. CONSTRUCTION PLANKING: Single Philippine and Honduras mahogany, finished 3/4″...
Plans from the 1953 YOD Association yearbook The limited overhang of the bow is key to the YOD’s success as a light displacement boat designed for rough water. Length overall, about 30′-6″ Length design waterline, about 24′ Beam 6′-6″ Draft...
The design of the Yankee class was an expensive, well publicized project. There was a flurry of articles and press releases in 1937, mostly due to the efforts of Waldo H. Brown. Most recently, an article about the YOD class and the construction of Y44...