Yachts  are popular as they can be sailed all afternoon, with the challenge of skill against the wind with no need to refuel or recharge batteries.  There are not enough yachts of one design to make for viable class racing.  On the water, for casual sailing, are marble heads, IOMs, (International One Metre) smaller ready to go models and semi-scale boats from kits or  built from plans. Help with setting up boats and sailing techniques is always available at the lakeside, but the subject is too large for inclusion on this site.


The yachts sailed in the club are generally of the Bermudan sloop style, with a triangular foresail (jib) and a larger triangular mainsail.


There are few yachts of the same design or size.  Semi scale cruising designs and functional racing models predominate.


Older boats tended to be home built, either scratch built from plans for competition, or from kits which often had ‘plastic’ hull and deck.


Today, a range of ‘Ready to Sail’ boats are available up to about 1.0m long.  Often the radio equipment is included, so rigging the boats and fitting batteries is all that is needed.


More sophisticated kits from specialist suppliers are available needing careful construction and are not for the novice.  A range of components, ie A, B, C sail sets allow for a ‘tailored’ approach.


The Millennium Lake at Fairlands Valley has good deep water launching so that all designs can be sailed with water depth of about 1.2m with no shallows.  The only hazard is trees overhanging in a few places which are trimmed on a regular basis.


There are groups of trees around the lake which creates a wind that varies in both strength and direction.



Initial Set Up and Rigging


‘Ready to Sail’ boats will come with instructions to rig the boat to achieve optimum performance for the design and components supplied.


If your introduction to sailing is via a second hand boat, either complete or incomplete, then you will need to do some research.  Basic set up details will be given for ‘tailor made’ new kits but tuning is needed to maximise performance.




Tuning the Boat


Tuning is the term given to the adjustments made to the boat to maximise the performance for any set of conditions.  As there is no racing within the club, most boats are set for sailing in most conditions, not needing a change of sail sizes.

Help is available at the lakeside to get a yacht sailing.


Early December saw the tiniest racing yacht on the lake... designed, built & sailed by Andy Little.  Youtube video


"Attached is the raw hull shape in pdf format. Print it on A4 paper and stitch together with tape to get an idea of the hull size and shape.  I cut the hull out of 1/32 birch ply, but I reckon you could use plasticard, foam board  or Correx or even tinplate. Alternatively just get a chunk of foam and carve out your own shape!


I also think I  discovered why the little boat only tacks one way. I looked at the fin  keel and it looks like I put it on at an angle! So will try to file and  fill and adds bits on to try to straighten it up.


Probably time for V2 though!"


2022 will hopefully see the start of some yacht racing on the lake. Although there are not enough members with one type of yacht, we are planning to introduce a handicap system to allow all classes to race together. This is based on an idea from Lee Valley Model Yacht Club called the RYGGED start. Basically it is a  a personal handicapping system that is designed to:


  • Relieve the beginner of the pressures of crowded start lines, until such time as they are sufficiently experienced to cope.
  • Give encouragement, by enabling some early wins.
  • Eliminate the beginner's proneness to hanging around well behind the the start line in order to avoid close contact sailing.


Every member shall be given a personal handicap based on past performance. Newcomers will automatically be granted a 'full' handicap upon joining the club, unless they are of proven ability as a result of past membership of another club.


The handicap granted shall indicate the number of seconds advantage that a sailor shall have at the start as shown here;


Colour         Handicap Advantage

Red                  30 seconds

Yellow              20 seconds

Green              10 seconds

No Colour         Scratch


Each sailor possessing a handicap shall carry a coloured TELL-TALE on the BACK STAY of their boat. Any boats not carrying a Tell-Tale will be expected to start at the proper time.


Read the full details about the RYGGED start system here at Lee Valley MYC


Some links are given below for suppliers of model yachts and equipment to get you started but it is in no way comprehensive.

Also links are given for general information on model yachting, sailing, setting up and tuning.


Howes Models              




Sails etc                        


P J Sails                        


Model Yacht Association   which includes a  Basic Guide  for tuning & trimming,  by Peter Sutton.


A useful article on sail trimming by Ben Morris (Australian) - Setting Sails on R C Model Yacht


Lester Gilberts technical aspects of yacht racing.


General Sailing ‘Points of Sail’


Book: Radio Controlled Racing Sailboats by Chris Jackson



copyright 2021 Stevenage Model Boat Club