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 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 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 86ft 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 98ft to 100ft, and most 98ft 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 72ft "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
|Stealth||1996||93ft||Germán Frers||Green Marine||owned by Gianni Agnelli, won the 2001 Fastnet race|
|Cap Gemini||1999||100ft||Ron Holland||Pendennis||now Hyundai|
|Leopard 2||2000||96ft||Reichel/Pugh||Green Marine||now Maria Alba II|
|Alfa Romeo I||2002||90ft||Reichel/Pugh||McConaghy Boats||ex Shockwave, Rambler, now La Bête, won the 2002 Sydney-Hobart, the 2003 Fastnet race and four Middle Sea Races|
|Zana||2003||98ft||Brett Bakewell-White||Hakes Marine||ex Konica Minolta, Lahana, now 100ft and competely modernised as Rio 100|
|Skandia||2003||98ft||Don Jones, Fred Barrett||Hart Marine||Canting Ballast Twin Foil, now Wild Thing, won the 2003 Sydney-Hobart|
|Mari-Cha IV||2003||140ft||Greg Elliott, Clay Oliver, Philippe Briand||JMV Industries||schooner built for Robert Warren Miller, holder of the New York-Lizard Point monohull record, now redesigned as cruiser Samurai|
|Nicorette III||2004||90ft||Alex Simonis, Marten Voogd||Boatspeed||Canting Ballast Twin Foil, ex Aapt ,YuuZoo, now Tokolosh VI, won the 2004 Sydney-Hobart|
|Genuine Risk||2004||90ft||Edward George Dubois||McConaghy Boats||Canting Ballast Twin Foil, now Ragamuffin 90 and owned by Syd Fischer|
|Maximus||2005||98ft||Greg Elliott, Clay Oliver||TP Cookson||Canting Ballast Twin Foil, ex Investec Loyal, now 100ft fully redesigned by Andrew Dovell as Ragamuffin 100 and owned by Syd Fischer, won the 2005 Fastnet race and the 2011 Sydney-Hobart|
|Alfa Romeo II||2005||98ft||Reichel/Pugh||McConaghy Boats||Canting Ballast Twin Foil, now 100ft Esimit Europa 2, won the 2009 Transpac, the 2009 Sydney-Hobart and three Middle Sea Races|
|Wild Oats XI||2005||98ft||Reichel/Pugh||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||McConaghy Boats||now 100ft, won two Fastnet races and the 2009 Middle Sea Race|
|Speedboat||2008||98ft||Juan Kouyoumdjian||TP Cookson||ex Virgin Money, Rambler 100, now 100ft Perpetual Loyal, won the 2011 Caribbean 600 and the 2011 Newport-Lizard Point race|
|Nomad 4||2013||100ft||Jean-Marie Finot, Pascal Conq||Maxi Dolphin||IRC cruiser|
|Rambler 88||2014||88ft||Juan Kouyoumdjian||New England Boatworks||owned by George David, won the 2015 Middle Sea Race|
|Comanche||2014||100ft||VPLP, Guillaume Verdier||Hodgdon Yachts||owned by James H. Clark, won the 2015 Newport-Lizard Point race and the 2015 Sydney-Hobart|
• LH designates the length of hull as measured by IRC, excluding bowsprits
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Super_Maxi_100.|
- International America's Cup Class
- Maxi Yachts - production sailing yachts designed by Olympic medallist Pelle Pettersson and built on the island of Gotland. Over 16,000 have been built over the last 30 years. Current production consists of the Maxi 1200, Maxi 1300 and the Swedish Match 40.