About Eights

The International/Metre Rule

Short History


The International / Metre Rule

The original International Rule for Measurement of Yachts, also known as the Metre Rule, was created to provide a means whereby yachts of similar size, but not one design, could race together on level terms without handicaps or time allowances. The rule was devised at an international conference held in London in 1906, the American yacht clubs choosing not to be represented, and came into force in 1907. The measurements of a yacht wishing to compete in one of the several different sized classes has to equal the figure set for that class by the International Rule's mathematical formula. In addition the light construction of yachts then racing had proved unsatisfactory and the Rule required, as the latest version of the Rule still does, that boats be built to scantling rules, construction methods, panel weights and materials specified by Lloyds, thus ensuring that boats were built to last. Changes in rig, masts and sail material mean that Classic boats are now much more powerful than originally envisaged and it says a lot for the original formulation of the Rule, the designs, and the love of owners for their boats, that the Classics are still able to race competitively.
Another outcome of the 1906 conference was the formation of the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU), now titled the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), as the governing body for racing rules and other aspects of yacht racing as well as measurements.
The original International Rule (the First Rule) was modified in 1919 to the Second Rule, and again in 1933 to the Third Rule which still applies today:
       Where (in metres)
            R = the Rating
            L = waterline length (LWL)
            d = difference between skin girth and chain girth
            S = sail area
            F = freeboard

So, for an 8-Metre boat, R = 8, for a 12-Metre, R = 12, and so on. In addition to the formula, individual classes have their own Rating Rules which stipulate various maximum and minimum dimensions as well as other matters; for example, Eights are obliged to have two sleeping berths in the cabin plus one for crew. See the full International Eight Metre Rule

The International Rule was accepted by North America in 1928 for the smaller classes – up to 12-Metres - while Europe adopted the North American Universal Rule devised in 1903 for larger classes, classified alphabetically – the J-Class being the second largest after the I-Class, and the best known.

Short history

Pre World War II

Within the first eight years of the First Rule over 140 8-Metre boats were launched, and the 8-Metre Class received Olympic status in 1908, remaining the largest and most prestigious Olympic class until 1936. The flexibility of the Rule allowed the emergence of some undesirable characteristics – notably increases in waterline length and sail area and reduced beam which resulted in “tender” boats with poor righting moment. The Rule also allowed more positive developments through technological progress such as the ability to create a large sail area without needing a gaff rig – the emergence of the single spar Marconi, or Bermuda, rig. The Second Rule introduced a minimum beam requirement of one foot per metre rating – so a minimum eight foot beam for an 8-Metre rating, and so on, and increased penalties for sail area and girth. This produced some excellent boats, but further modifications were made in the Third Rule introduced in 1933, leading to more seaworthy boats with greater righting moment.

The Eights became very popular with men like Baron Krupp in Germany and Marcus Wallenberg jr. in Sweden, who would order new boats every other year as new and faster designs were produced for the fierce competition for trophies such as the Coppa D’Italia, La Coupe de France and the Canada’s Cup. The Third Rule produced almost 80 Eights in the seven years before World War II broke out.


The Moderns
From 1958 to 1987 the 12 Metre class was the designated class for the America's Cup , and thus this has become the best known Metre class.

Although the old Eights (now known as Classics) continued to race actively in the post-war years, with a fleet on the Clyde and others in Scandinavia, France and Lake Ontario, the first new boat to be built after the War was Iroquois in 1967, designed by Olin Stephens for Eugene van Voorhis, of Rochester Yacht Club USA. Iroquois gave birth to the Modern classification.

Eugene van Voorhis later shipped one of his older Eights, Iskareen, to Scotland to be sold, and as a result of a convivial evening at the Royal Northern Yacht Club Eugene challenged the Scots to a race. The Royal Northern accepted, and van Voorhis donated a trophy to the Royal Northern Yacht Club to be raced for, if possible once a year, with a minimum of 3 nations competing. This became the first International 8-Metre World Cup, which was raced for in the Clyde in 1970, with six starters from the USA, Britain, Sweden and Finland. It was won by a Scot with SILJA WHO successfully defended it in 1975 at Sandhamn. In 1978 ISKAREEN won the trophy in Helsinki, and was the last Classic to win the World Cup to date.

The Sira Cup
Recognising that the Modern Eights could threaten the competition between the old, or Classic, boats, King Olav V of Norway, owner of  Sira and IEMA President of Honour, donated the Sira Cup to be awarded to the 8-Metre built prior to 1960 with the best overall score in the 8-Metre World Cup. This trophy secured the interest of the Classic Eights to enter the World Cup, and the Sira Cup is still very much alive and has greatly contributed to the strength of the class today.

A fuller history of the Class can be seen at www.8mR.org.


The Coppa d’Italia
Donated: 1909
Year of origin: 1898, donated by King Umberto of Italy to the Yacht Club Italiano
Donated by: Yacht Club Italiano
Owner of the Trophy: The International Eight Metre Association
Qualifying yachts: The best European Yacht at the World Championships or, when the World Championships are held outside Europe, the trophy for the European Championships held in that year.

The International 8-Metre World Cup
Donated: 1970
Donated by: Eugene van Voorhis, Rochester Yacht Club
Owner of the Trophy: The Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club
Qualifying yachts: All Int. 8-Metres holding a valid certificate of rating. Rules governing the International Eight Metre World Cup are set by the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club, last revised in 2004.
Click here for the
8M World Cup Rules

The Sira Cup
Donated: 1983
Year of origin: 1939
Donated by: The King of Norway, His Majesty King Olaf V
Owner of the trophy: The International Eight Metre Association
Qualifying yachts: All International 8-Metres built and designed prior to 1960 answering to the deed of gift of the Sira Cup with the best result in the overall score.
The SIRA CUP deed of gift
"It has been a pronounced wish that the change of rules resolved last year should not have a too destructing effect on the 8mR´s constructed according to the past rule. KNS have therefore in agreement with IEMA donated a cup to be named SIRA Cup, donated July 19, 1983 by his Majesty King Olav V to be raced for by all recognised 8mR yachts designed and built before 1960 and answering to the rule of the old 8mR requirements. The SIRA Cup shall be held by IEMA and raced for in accordance with above and detailed instructions from IEMA. if possible at the same time as the World Cup.
July 26, 1983."

The Neptune Trophy
Donated: 2005
Year of Origin: 1890
Donated by: James Coats jr.
Owner of the trophy: The Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club
Qualifying yachts: All International  8-Metre boats designed prior to 1960 holding a valid certificate of rating and answering to the deed of gift and rules of the Neptune Trophy.
Click here for the Neptune Trophy Rules

The First Rule Cup
Donated: 1998
Donated by: The Lake Constance 8-Metre Association
Owner of the trophy: The Lake Constance 8-Metre Association
Qualifying yachts: All Int. 8-Metres designed prior to 1920 or racing with a gaff rig. The trophy is governed on a permissive rather than restrictive basis by the Lake Constance 8-Metre Association.

The Mackcinac Centennial 8-Metre  Trophy
Donated: 2007
Year of Origin: 1872
Owner of the trophy: The Royal Canadian Yacht Club
Qualifying yachts: All International  8-Metres constructed between 1967 and 1996 which have had no modification to hull, keel or rudder after 1990.
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