Generation X Boat

Published on January 25th, 2022

It’s been said before in Scuttlebutt that what happens in the Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA) should be bottled and sold to every sailing region. The vibe of the ILYA is top shelf, and it begins with a 16-foot hard-chined dinghy called the X Boat.

Activity in this youth boat annually culminates with the ILYA X Boat Championships in which Senior (under 16 years) and Junior (under 14 years) titles attract massive fleets at some god-brewed fresh water Midwest lake.

Michael Hanson writes about the X Boat scene for Sailing World magazine… here’s an excerpt:

The X boat isn’t the flashiest youth race boat. At 470 pounds, it weighs about two and a half times more than a Club 420. The hull is wide with a rigid chine that gives it the look of a miniature Lightning.

Downwind, a whisker pole is used to project the jib instead of hoisting a spinnaker, making for some less-than-thrilling runs, but what the X boat lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in simplicity.

Because it is slow to heel, learning the basics of steering, sail trim and weight placement become simple enough for a youth sailor to grasp. Most X boaters start crewing around age 10 to supplement their Optimist racing, which can be socially isolating.

The X boat gives them an opportunity to enjoy the sport with another person, and because the ideal crew weight is so low, older skippers typically race with younger crewmembers, creating a mentorship unique to the class. This skipper-crew ­relationship can even be viewed as a sacred bond, with many duos remaining lifetime friends. – Full report

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