Hi Ace - Welcome to the fold!
First of all it would be helpful to know where you are from. I am writing from NYC in the US. Advice I can give you reflects my bias and materials sources that are available here.
Sheeting for Footies, however, is almost universally a “swing arm” system. This “arm” is basically an extension of the servo horn that serves to increase the “throw” of the servo’s rotation, for us that translates into sheet line taken up. Many setups are what is called “double sheeted”, as opposed to the mechanically simpler single sheeting. In single sheeting the end of the sheet line is attached directly to the end of the swing arm and the amount of sheet taken in is equal to the linear distance the arm travels. In double sheeting the sheet line passes through a hole in the end of the arm and attaches to a fixed point on the boat more or less in line with the location of the sheet’s entry point. This “doubles” the amount of sheet line taken up in the linear distance the swing arm travels. In single sheeting the swing arm is usually pretty long which puts more strain on the servo. Also, since Footies have limited interior space most folks double sheet.
Choosing r/c gear for use in Footies can run the gamut from left over pieces from other projects (usually first boats) to brand new equipment spec’ed specifically for your new boat. With Footies weight is a priority, so when you read the posts on this and other Footy forums a lot of the discussion is about component weight. All top enthusiasts use micro servos just for this reason. Many micros (like the ones that come with most new r/c sets) will work fine for the rudder. The servo for the winch though has to be a combination of power (not less than 50 ounce/inches (3.9 kg.cm) of torque at 4.8v), light weight (under 30 grams), and lastly, price. Being able to extend the winch servo rotation beyond the 60 degrees that come standard is a plus as well.
Servo rotation for winches is important because the more rotation (up to 180 degrees) the more linear distance the swing arm travels and the more line that can be taken in. This may allow the swing arm to be shorter for the same amount of sheet take up thus reducing strain on the winch. Increasing the winch servo throw can be achieved in several ways; using a programable transmitter like the Spectrum DX6i or comparable, using a winch servo modified for 180 degree rotation like the Hitec-225MG (available from Servo City, 31 grams), or by using a Servo Stretcher (also available at Servo City, a device that links into the connection between receiver and winch servo that allows you to adjust the travel of the servo, 15 grams).
I use the first system and my winch (Bluebird BMS-380MAX, 16 grams) travels 120 degrees +/- with the settings on the winch channel on my DX6i set to maximum throw both all in and all out. The other solutions both add weight in comparison to the one I use but can be more economical and the only simple way to increase the winch servo throw with older transmitters.
I would encourage you to use a simple rigging system to start out with. Read the thread “equilibrium rig down under” for an in depth discussion of what is slangly called a McRig. This is a single sail that can be made quickly and also self regulates in wind gusts. There are not many settings so it is a good way to break the ice for new sailors.
For a first boat I would direct you to the plans section of the Official Footy Website (there is a link to it in the Forums section). Bill Hagerup’s Cobra is a good all around boat. I’ve raced against it so I can say it is quite quick.
Also, the Hop2It thread has the panel shapes for this quite attractive boat, I haven’t had any personal experience with this boat but the photographs of them sailing show all the right things.
Most scratch built Footies are hard chine or paneled construction. The best materials for this type of building, and building light, are 1/32nd Balsa or 1/64th aviation ply. The Balsa can be mail ordered but if possible find some hobby location or art supply place that has model building supplies so that you can pick and choose straight grain and matching panels to start with. The 1/64 (.015") aviation ply is available by mail order but doesn’t come in small quantities. The internet has lots of different venders but the ply you want is made by Midwest and usually is offered in bundles of 6 12" x 48" sheets. It can be expensive but since you are undertaking a group project you guys can split the cost. This amount of ply should yield 8 to 10 boats.
My last recommendation here is to invest in a gram scale. It is important to know how much each part of your boat weighs and to keep track of overall weight as you proceed through construction. Accurate notes will help immensely as your group builds up its fleet. Also, the design trend seems to be moving to lighter boats while trying to maintain the same ballast to overall weight ratio. That puts an emphasis on light building techniques and honing building skills.
I would encourage you to scour this Forum and the vast experience accumulated in the threads and posts. Much of the information that you will need is already covered there, but it may take some digging.