MODEL-YACHTING, the pastime of building and racing model-yachts. It has always been customary for ship-builders to make a miniature model of the vessel under construction, which is in every respect a copy of the original on a small scale, whether steam-ship or sailing-vessel (there is a fine collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London). Many of these models are of exquisite workmanship, every rope, pulley or portion of the engine being faithfully reproduced. In the case of sailing yachts these models were often pitted against each other on small bodies of water, and hence arose the modern pastime. It was soon seen that elaborate fittings and complicated rigging were a detriment to rapid handling, and that, on account of the comparatively stronger winds in which models were sailed, they needed a greater draught. For these reasons modern model yachts, which usually have fin-keels, are of about 15% or 20% deeper draught than full-sized vessels, while rigging and fittings have been reduced to absolute simplicity. This applies to models built for racing and not to elaborate copies of steamers and ships, made only for show or for " toy cruising."
Model-yacht clubs have existed for many years in Great Britain, Ireland and the United States, most of them holding a number of regattas during each season. The rules do not generally require the owner or skipper of a model to build his own craft, but among model-yachtsmen the designing and the construction of the boats constitute as important and interesting a part of the sport as the actual sailing. Models are constructed of some light, seasoned wood such as pine (preferably white), white cedar or mahogany free from knots. The hull may ei her be hollowed out of a solid block of wood, or cut from layers of planks in the so-called " bread-and-butter " style, or planked over a frame of keel and cross-sections. The first two methods are used in constructing " dug-out " models. Hollowing out from the solid block entails a great deal of labour and has therefore fallen into disfavour. In the " bread-and-butter " style a number of planks, which have been shaped to the horizontal sections of the model and from which the middle has been sawn out, are glued together and then cut down to the exact lines of the design, templates being used to test the precision of the curves. In the planked, or " built-up " model, which is generally chosen by more expert builders, the planks are tacked to the frame, as in the construction of large vessels. Models now are generally exaggerated cutters, so far as their underbodies are concerned, or, more often, are fitted with fin-keels weighted with lead, after the manner of full-sized yachts. They may have any rig, but schooner and sloop rigs are most common, the latter being the favourite for racing on account of its simplicity. Two kinds of steering-gear are used, the weighted swinging rudder and the " main-sheet balance gear," the object of both being to keep the model on a true course, either before or against the wind. Models are often sailed without rudders, but though a perfectly built boat will sail readily against the wind without steering-gear, it is almost impossible to keep it on its course before the wind without some contrivance to check divergence. This is accomplished by the weighted rudder, which falls over when the vessel heels and tends to counteract the force of the breeze. There are two varieties of the weighted rudder, in the first of which the weight, usually lead, is fixed to the edge of the rudder, while in the second the weight, usually a ball of lead, is made to run on the tiller above the deck, so that it can be placed further forward or aft, according to the force needed to overcome the influence of the wind. While the weighted rudder is almost universal in the British Isles, the chief model-yachtsmen in America use the " main-sheet balance gear," in which the boom is connected with the tiller in such a manner that, when it swings out with a pressure of wind, the rudder is automatically pulled round sufficiently to keep the yacht in its course. This apparatus is particularly efficient in sailing before the wind.
Model-yacht regattas are very different from the toy-boat matches indulged in by children from one side of a pond to the other. They take place upon sufficiently large bodies of water to allow a course at least a quarter of a mile in length, which is generally sailed twice or three times over to windward and backward. Triangular courses are also sailed. Racing rules correspond generally to those controlling regattas of large boats, and there is full scope to exhibit all the proofs of good seamanship. The yachts are followed in light skiffs, and may not be touched more than a certain number of times during a race, on penalty of a handicap. Racing measurements differ in the various clubs, but all are based upon length and sail-area. In Great Britain the regular Yacht Racing Association rule has been generally adopted, and handicaps deducted from it. In America models are divided into a single schooner with a maximum load water-line of 63 in., and three classes of sloops, the first class including yachts with water-lines between 48 and 53 in., the second class those between 42 and 48 in. and the third and smallest class those between 35 and 42 in. A yacht with a shorter water-line than 35 in. must race in the third class. It has been found that yachts bf smaller dimensions possess too little resistance to the wind.
See Model Sailing Yachts, in Marshall's Practical Manuals series, 1905 ; and How to Build a Model Yacht, by Herbert Fisher (New York, 1902).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)