Maxi yacht

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Hyundai, May 2009
Alfa Romeo II on sea trials, 2005

A maxi yacht usually refers to a racing yacht of at least 70 feet (21 m) in length.


The term maxi originated with the International Offshore Rule (IOR) rating system, which in the 1970s and 1980s measured offshore racing yachts and applied a single-number rating to each boat. This number was approximately equal to the sailing waterline length in feet, plus or minus speed enhancing or reducing factors in the design. A yacht with a rating of 40 feet (12 m) was generally about 47 to 52 feet (14 to 16 m) in length overall. The IOR had upper and lower rating limits of 16 feet (4.9 m) and 70 feet (21 m), so a yacht designed and built to exceed the maximum limit of 70 feet (21 m) rating was known as a maxi.

Being the biggest sailing yachts afloat, Maxis have always had the best chance of finishing first. They were sufficiently fast and seaworthy to cross oceans and became the craft of choice of pioneers of the Whitbread Round the World Race. The racing giants in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2005 are the modern descendants of those early aquatic thoroughbreds.

— Charles St. Clair Brown, EPS / Maximus


The IOR Maxis were generally 75 to 82 feet (23 to 25 m) long overall, and raced boat-for-boat without handicap, unlike the rest of the IOR fleet which raced with a time correction factor depending on the boat's rating. In the 1980s they were the most glamorous, exciting, expensive and high-visibility racing yachts in the world, with regular appearances at most of the great races such as the Fastnet, Sydney-Hobart, Bermuda Race, and their own private series of regattas in the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas. The maxis were also prominent as line honour contestants in the Whitbread Round the World Race from 1973 to 1993.

Modern Maxis[edit]

Modern Maxi yachts are usually custom-designed and built to the IRC rule but regardless of handicap in order to achieve line honour victories. In 2001 however two 86 ft Reichel/Pugh boats were built to the "maxZ86" class in order to match boat speed evenly, but the class did not generate further interest. For the 2009 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia increased the IRC rating upper limit for length of hull from 98 ft to 100 ft, and most 98 ft yachts have been lengthened to this size. In order to achieve higher speeds, Maxi yachts were early adopters of modern materials and technologies such as carbonfiber, thermoformed sails, rotating wingmasts, water ballasts and canting keels. Previous smaller Maxi yachts are still raced with corrected time class victories in mind whilst the 72 ft "mini-maxi" yachts now have a class of their own. Maxi yachts are raced in both inshore and offshore races.

List of largest Maxi yachts[edit]

yacht year LH designer shipyard notes
Stealth 1996 93ft Germán Frers United Kingdom Green Marine owned by Gianni Agnelli, won the 2001 Fastnet race
Cap Gemini 1999 100ft Ron Holland United Kingdom Pendennis now Hyundai
Leopard 2 2000 96ft Reichel/Pugh United Kingdom Green Marine now Maria Alba II
Alfa Romeo I 2002 90ft Reichel/Pugh Australia McConaghy Boats ex Shockwave, Rambler, now La Bête, won the 2002 Sydney-Hobart, the 2003 Fastnet race and four Middle Sea Races
Bols 2003 90ft Hugh Welbourn New Zealand Boatspeed now Med Spirit
Zana 2003 98ft Brett Bakewell-White New Zealand Hakes Marine ex Konica Minolta, Lahana, redesigned in 2014 at the TP Cookson yard as 100ft Rio 100
Skandia 2003 98ft Don Jones, Fred Barrett Australia Hart Marine Triple Moving Foil, now Wild Thing, won the 2003 Sydney-Hobart
Mari-Cha IV 2003 140ft Greg Elliott, Clay Oliver, Philippe Briand France JMV Industries schooner built for Robert Warren Miller, redesigned in 2015 at Royal Huisman as cruiser Samurai
Nicorette III 2004 90ft Alex Simonis, Marten Voogd New Zealand Boatspeed Triple Moving Foil owned by Ludde Ingvall, ex Aapt ,YuuZoo, won the 2004 Sydney-Hobart, redesigned in 2016 by Brett Bakewell-White at the Southern Ocean Marine yard as 98ft CQS
Genuine Risk 2004 90ft Edward George Dubois Australia McConaghy Boats Canting Ballast Twin Foil, now Ragamuffin 90 and owned by Syd Fischer
Maximus 2005 98ft Greg Elliott, Clay Oliver New Zealand TP Cookson Canting Ballast Twin Foil, ex Investec Loyal, redesigned in 2014 by Andrew Dovell at the Innovation Composite yard as Ragamuffin 100ft, now Scallywag; Won the 2005 Fastnet race and the 2011 Sydney-Hobart
Alfa Romeo II 2005 98ft Reichel/Pugh Australia McConaghy Boats Canting Ballast Twin Foil, now 100ft Black Jack IV, won the 2009 Transpac, the 2009 Sydney-Hobart and three Middle Sea Races
Wild Oats XI 2005 98ft Reichel/Pugh Australia McConaghy Boats development of Alfa Romeo II, now 100ft and completely modernised, won eight Sydney-Hobarts and the 2015 Transpac
Leopard 3 2007 98ft Bruce Farr Australia McConaghy Boats now 100 ft, won two Fastnet races and the 2009 Middle Sea Race
Speedboat 2008 98ft Juan Kouyoumdjian New Zealand TP Cookson ex Virgin Money, Rambler 100, Perpetual Loyal, now 100ft Infotrack, won the 2011 Caribbean 600, the 2011 Newport-Lizard Point race and the 2016 Sydney-Hobart
Rambler 88 2014 88ft Juan Kouyoumdjian United States New England Boatworks owned by George David, won the 2015 Middle Sea Race
Comanche 2014 100ft VPLP, Guillaume Verdier United States Hodgdon Yachts holder of the New York-Lizard Point monohull record and the 24-hour record, winner of the 2017 Sydney-Hobart

• LH designates the length of hull as measured by IRC, excluding bowsprits

See also[edit]