As extracted from the programme for the International Radio
Controlled Model Yacht Championship, 1975 (World
RC champs 1975):
A short history of R/C model yachting - from an article by
As long ago as 1953 a report appeared in the February issue of
the M.Y.A. News (No.36) under the heading 'Remote Control' and I quote the
following extract: "Since out last issue was published we have learnt that two
boats under R/C have successfully sailed a race at Poole round marks without
coming to shore (vide "The Model Maker"). This may be a landmark in British
model yachting. The equipment used costs some £25 and controls only two, or
possibly three boats at a time, the suggestion being that clubs should buy
communal sets, the receivers being transferred from each pair of boats to the
next pair to race.
Well, things have progressed much further, since then, although it is still not
practicable to sail more than six boats together.
It was not long afterwards that various people started to put pressure on the M.Y.A. to adopt a new class or classes for R/C together with a set of racing
rules. During 1955 there was quite a lot of correspondence in the M.Y.A. News
about this subject, sparked off by a long letter from one of the pioneers of R/C
Lt. Col. C. E. Bowden. The late H. B. Tucker a well-known designer editor of the
pre-war Marine Models and a prolific writer on model yachting matters took up
the subject and followed progress with keen interest until his death in 1961.
Some enthusiastic members of the I.R.C.M.S. added their strength to the small
group of pioneers at Poole and regular racing was organised at Poole, Gosport
and at the Rick Pond, Hampton Court, for 'A' Class boats fitted with a radio.
Mr. G. Carrington-Wood, was invited to attend M.Y.A. Council Meetings and
eventually in 1957 he and his colleagues produced a set of racing rules based on
the R.Y.A. Racing Rules currently in force. These were 'rubber stamped' by the
M.Y.A. and the cost of printing was shared between the two organisations. These
rules were in the main the same as those used today except that they have been
amended twice to keep them in line with the R.Y.A. Rules. Mr. Charles Brazier
Vice-Commodore of the Gosport M.Y.C. produced a most useful appendix to the
rules which explained them in simple terms for the benfit of newcomers to the
At the 1961 A.G.M. the agenda contained proposals for the adoption of three R/C
classes, 'R', 'S' and 5.5 metre. These proposals were however withdrawn by the
proposers the Midland District Committee as they had not had sufficient time to
develop their ideas. So the arguments and counter-arguments about a new class or
classes continued for another two years. Meanwhile the 'Q' class was given
permanent life and then in February 1 964 the Poole M. Y. C. proposed a new
class which they called the 'R' class. The rule was simple and contained the
||Max. 50 in Min 46 in.
||Max 65 in Min 1.1 x L.W.L.
||Max 12 in Min 10.5 in.
||Max 30 lb. Min 22 lb.
||Max 12 in.
|Actual Sail Area
||50,000 / L.W.L.
The rule was adopted at the 1964 A.G.M. but only four boats were registered in
1965, all from Poole M.Y.C. and none have been built since. Why this class
failed is a mystery. The measurements were reasonable though the boat was too
long to fit into the boot of most cars and the rule allowed a fair scope for
designers. I think the reason it failed was that it was introduced too early in
spite of the pressure to adopt it. The truth was that the number of people
actively engaged in R/C model yachting throughout the country was very small
indeed. Perhaps it would have stood a better chance of survival if it had been
introduced in 1972 or 1973 although it is doubtful if the 'R' class could ever
have competed for popularity with the 'M' and 10 Rater Classes.
From 1965 to 1971 there were no material developments but during this six year
period there was a gradual improvement in radio gear. This was the dawn of
miniaturisation resulting in reduction of weight. Control was more positive and
reliable and the standard of rigging and sailing greatly improved. Reliable
equipment began to appear on the market at reasonable cost although sail winches
could not be obtained commercially.
January 1972 marks the time from which it can really be said that R/C started to
get on the move. At the International Boat Show at Earls Court R/C model yachts
were featured by Flotilla Models Ltd., a new and small company in the Midlands.
They advertised to the effect that they were introducing the new sport of racing
radio controlled model yachts in Britain, which was a pretty bold claim to start
with. At the Earls Court Pool with the aid of a wind machine they demonstrated
three models imported from Germany and built by the firm of Klug. They were a 36
in 'K' class Bora an 'M' class Ghibli and a 64 in. ketch, Monsoon. Prices ranged
from £55 for the 36 in. kit to £248 for the ketch, with the 'M' class Ghilbi at
£130 all less radio. They employed MacGregor 2-Channel R/C sets which with
transmitter receiver, batteries, charger, rudder servo and crystals, retailed
for £52. A Klug proportional sail winch was an extra £39 or £29 for progressive
action. So if you fancied the 'M' the total bill for a completed yacht was £221
which was far more than most people were prepared to pay. In fact sales hardly
materialised and with the steep rise in German prices and the revaluation of the
Deutshmark against Sterling by over 20% the company was forced to cease trading.
However the sport gained valuable free publicity from this venture.
As a direct result of all this publicity the Sports Council showed interest in
our activities for the first time and extended an invitation to the M.Y.A. to
participate in the London Dinghy Exhibition at Crystal Palace the following
March. Their idea was to carry out the same exercise by staging demonstrations
on the swimming pool but their plans were somewhat frustrated because the fan
that Flotilla Models had used was not available so a static display was arranged
instead. This was a very fine effort indeed and was well supported by local
clubs. The amount of interest displayed by the general public was very
encouraging. Many of them of course were knowledgeable dinky sailors and
yachtsmen and the M.Y.A. members who manned the stand throughout the weekend
were kept busy answering intelligent questions.
It was also during 1972 that we first heard of a proposed visit to this country
by a party of American and Canadian model yachtsmen in 1974. The Metro Marine
Modellers of Toronto had generously offered to the I.M.Y.R.U. a new cup known as
the 'Canada Cup' for R/C competition in the 10 Rater Class.
The organisation of the proposed visit to England was to be undertaken jointly
by the A.M.Y.A. and the Canadian M.Y.A. It was not however until mid-1973 that
any firm proposals were received by the M. Y. A. After lengthy correspondence
with the Chairman of the joint American and Canadian Regatta Committee Mr.
Dennis A. Eason it was agreed that the visit should be postponed until August
1975 when the venue will be Gosport.
In the meantime at the 1972 A.G.M. of the M.Y.A. a motion by the Poole M.Y.C.
that all officially recognised M.Y.A. classes be adopted as R/C classes was
passed. It was agreed that the same rating rules would apply as for the free
sailing classes and that yachts would carry the same class marks except that
they would be prefixed by the letter 'R'. This new ruling implied that the 'Q'
class would become the 'RA' class it no longer uses its modified formula but
instead boats have to conform to the full 'A' class formula.
So we had the long desired break through at last and with the M.Y.A. in full
control of all free sailing and R/C classes.