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his month, one of the world’s leading high-performance catamaran classes is holding its world championship regatta in Erquy, France, marking the event’s 10th anniversary. A fleet of 150 boats is expected to take part, with 10 slots reserved for boats from the United States.
The Formula 18 was launched in 1994 as a restricted design class for 18-foot catamarans with identical SCHRS (Small Cat Handicap Rating System) measurements. The result has been a fleet that allows multiple designs to compete on equal terms. This, in turn, has encouraged multiple manufacturers to get into the game, which helps keep boats affordable and ensures that sailors have multiple designs to choose from.
Crew weights from 250 pounds to over 330 pounds are equalized with lead corrector weights, which makes the class attractive for mixed crews. A new boat costs under $20,000 and a competitive second-hand boat can be had for around $12,000. Not bad for racing at the bleeding edge.
Over the years, a number of different designs have come to the fore. One of the most successful has been the Hobie Tiger, developed and built in France, and the winner of six world championships.
More recently, the Nacra Infusion, designed by Morelli & Melvin and built at the Nacra plant in Santa Ana, California, has come to the fore, winning the worlds in 2008 and 2009.
“The best thing about the F18 class is the level of competition worldwide, and the size of the fleets….The F18 is the strongest multihull class worldwide and is raced competitively on all continents,” said Pete Melvin, who along with his 14-year-old son, James, took fourth aboard an Infusion at the 2009 North American Formula 18 Championship regatta.