Footy Performance

The debate about the smallest size that’s reasonable to sail has been based more on opinion than fact.

Here’s what I’ve seen with my Footy’s:

They are very capable of sailing well, and they handle better than most people expect.

In moderate, steady wind they are a joy to sail. In heavy, steady wind they can still sail well, in spite of waves in a typical pond (I don’t have any ocean experience with them except in calm conditions.)

Top speed is limited by their short LOA, so course lengths should be limited…and a light-air race can take a LONG time.

Aging eyes make it hard to see the orientation of the boat and sails when too far away, so courses should be close to shore.

Transparent sails (thanks, Brett) are even harder for aging eyes to see!

In gusting conditions they react more quickly than larger boats to wind direction and speed changes, so they can be a real handful! Quick reflexes are needed in those conditions.

I think Razor might be more inclined to turn upwind in a gust than some other designs because of the chine “carving” the turn, like kayakers do with chine designs. I didn’t get enough experience with it to be sure that’s a factor, but it was challenging to sail in very strong wind with lots of gusting and direction changes in 20 degree Farenheit weather. Then again, so’s my Soling 1 meter in those conditions.

I think Footy’s may be more sensitive to COE changes than larger boats, so small changes in mast location may be important. I’m going to try to work on this next season to get a better feel for it. My theory is that a small change in mast location has a proportionally greater effect because of the percentage change it represents with such a short LOA.

Lightweight sails, like mylar, work better than heavier materials like dacron, especially in light air.

A nationally rated, very experienced skipper told me, when sailing my HalfPint for the first time, that it sailed better than a Laser, but I haven’t sailed one so I can’t validate the statement.

We have much to learn about the performance of these boats and what works well or not. Optimal displacement, sail area, standard vs. swing rig, narrow vs. wider hulls…all areas to explore.

So add your observations and experiences to this thread. Both general observations and those about specific boat designs would be helpfull to all.


Having only experience in competitive sailing with a Vic, I’m limited as to the depth of my opinions. But in overall experience, I feel that these sail fairly well (though only with the Bob-A-Bout hull). Where I live in the central plains, I find the standard sail area overpowered quite often (can you say DIVE!!!). But where my kids currently live, Pac NW (US), they are a joy to sail. As can be attested to by the sudden interest in sailing by my kids. I’ve found it’s sensitivity to be a nice challenge to me, prompting smaller adjustments than I’m used to in my Vic. They certainly aren’t speed demons, but they aren’t a brick either (unless you’ve included too much water within the hull :D). My two bits…

Very twitchy little blighters to sail well,
setups need to be spot on.Every little detail is more important than on your IOM etc
You need to be on your game to do well with this size boat.

But heres the up side…after sailing Footys for a while a IOM is childs play,you will see improvments in your boat handling and reactions etc.
Footys make a great “training” boat

Make sure you build smaller rigs as well so you can sail in all conditions.
Performance can be surprisingly good,most are very surprised when they see my boats sail.

When youy say smaller rigs, do you mean shorter with the same foot length (shorter) or shorter with a longer foot (shorter & wider) or both shorter with a
shorter foot (both)?

Two feet shorter or one footy shorter?-

I have not yet sailed my footy, which is still under construction, but I suspect the performance of a footy could be defined by the other Feet in the race. I think you probably have to have a sense of humor to make one of these. I’m picturing a lot of folks being quite interested but worried about what the neighbors would think of a grown person playing with such a tiney little boat as compared to a bigger one. to anyone who might have this in hibition I say"DO IT NOW! GO BUILD A FOOTY!TO HECK WITH THE CRITICS"
The rest of us who don’t have this inhibition will be glad to join you.

I’m looking foward to sailing mine.
It usually blows like heck where I sail so my rig will be the size of a postage stamp

I’d Put ut this way:

The sooner you build a bunch and get them out there (in GROUPS!), the sooner people out there will get used to seeing them!

Then… no more critics. Instead you tell them how EASY it is to build, or even offer to help, or form a ‘club?’

Amen to that. God bless the internet.

I go out to the park on sunday afternoons, for a hour, with my ODOM. EVERY time I go, I get the same questions: “what makes it go?/Where’s the propeller?” and “How do you control it?/Can you control the sails & make it turn?” and “How much does it cost” and “Is that a kit?”

If people see two or three out on the water, they’d be more inclined NOT to think of it (Footys, or "FEET!??) as a toy or novelty thing. Then you tell them, “We make these from cheap materials.”

John- How’d you come up with “FEET?” We’ve been calling them Footys.

Feet, foot, it’s all the same.
Btw- I read a while back about a way to make footy keel bulbs that involved putty or something. Does anybody remember that? it wasw like a really quick easy way to make a small bulb.


For anybody interested in the answer: “sculpy clay” see this thread: