Originally a mid-19th century derogatory description used by anyone who disliked the look of a racing yacht. However, it later came to describe the extreme designs constructed to exploit the rating rules in force in both the USA and Britain towards the end of the Victorian era. Yacht designers used lighter and lighter scantlings as well as a low freeboard, while longer and longer overhangs were employed at bow and stern to increase the waterline length when heeled (the longer a boat's waterline, the faster it goes). These distortions grew gradually more extreme as each season passed, so that by the early 1890s owners of the smaller ½-rater, 1-rater, and 2½-rater classes in Britain were more or less obliged to have a new boat built every season. Also, larger racing yachts began to be constructed which exploited the existing rule in the same way, and this eventually threatened their seaworthiness. New rating rules were introduced to encourage a more wholesome type of sailing yacht, but were not really effective until the Universal Rule was adopted by the New York Yacht Club in 1903 and the International Rule which governed the International Metre Class was officially adopted in Europe in 1908, though yachts built to this rule first raced in 1907. However, the old rule used by the New York Yacht Club still governed the America's Cup challenge held in 1903, and this produced the Reliance as the defending yacht, the largest and one of the most extreme examples of a skimming dish ever built.
Subjects: Maritime History.