Beken of Cowes. The big class of 1926.
Up to 1928
PRE J CLASS
Before the Universal Rule, yachts competing for the America’s Cup from 1893-1903 were designed to the Seawanhaka Rule which encouraged massive overhangs and sail area. The 1903 America’s Cup match witnessed the most extreme yachts built to this rule: Reliance and Shamrock III.
In a rebuke of the Seawanhaka rule, Nat Herreshoff, the designer of Reliance, developed a more wholesome rule that ensured some moderation: the Universal Rule. This new formula eliminated the outrageous long overhangs and excessive sail area of the previous rule.
The rule was based on ideas proposed by Nat Herreshoff allowing waterline length to be increased without sail area being restricted, as it had been under the International Rule. This was compensated by a larger displacement and so draught was limited to 15ft.
By the late 1920s, yachts with ‘Bermudan rigs, with no bowsprits’ became more popular.