Toys or Racing Boats or Eggshells?

I was visiting the now closed thread in the rules category, “Ugly Word”. I was struck by a couple of points that were raised in the maelstrom of heated opinion offered up there.

  1. That Footies don’t have enough mass and don’t sail fast enough to do damage to each other in a collision.

  2. That Footies can’t sail in winds that top 8 mph. (Actually I believe that Dick was using 8 mph as the litmus for toy versus real boat. If I have misinterpreted this then my apologies.)

These two points, though separated in the aforementioned thread, are interrelated and touch how the class is perceived by ourselves and others looking on.
From my personal experience of sailing my Bantams and trying to stage them for the photos you’ve all seen on this forum and the Footy website, collisions do happen and are loud. The wind at the time was well over 8 mph and in the several impact situations that occurred there was no damage to their carbon fiber hulls but the bowsprit of #88 did shred the jib of #84 and put longitudinal crack in the afterdeck. Later I noticed a hairline crack in the joint between the keel fin and the hull of #84.
Had my Bantam collided this way with a boat built of balsa panels I’m not sure that the balsa boat would have survived.
What I gleaned from my observations of sailing a highly maneuverable boat in strong wind is that control issues, the influence of wave action, and gusty conditions are as much a challenge for Footies as for other r/c sailboat classes, only more so because depth perception is a greater factor. Footies can do damage to each other in collision just like other r/c sailboats, particularly with such an emphasis on building light resulting in a delicate boat.
I have observed in this forum a great deal of concern about the Footy class splitting in two between the folks who see the Footy as a fun boat to build on the cheap and the people who want to see the Footy become a serious racing class. There is also the potential for a third break off as well. The pursuit of light weight boats and timed internet course racing will probably define a different kind of Footy than that which will develop for fleet racing where impact resistance and reaching performance will factor into design and construction methods.
It will be impractical to Balkanize the Footy Class for the sake protecting this group from that group. It is after all a restricted development class which should have room for everyone’s creative energy and ideas to flow (except mine of course).
For me, if it can’t sail in wind above 8-mph its a toy. If it can’t take a reasonable amount of abuse then its an eggshell. I am interested in the Footy that can handle the wear and tear in a week long fleet racing regatta, in whatever wind strengths avail themselves.

I have no problem sailing in winds over 8mph, in fact, I prefer it. I love to watch them zip along in the higher winds. Biggest problem I have is the fluky winds of the inland mountain waters I sail on. I can leave shore beating to windward and return the same way!
I think the perseption of Footys being toys comes mostly from the size and displacement shape of the boats. It’s like comparing a day sailer to ocean racing class.

Doesn’t everybody call their boat a ‘toy?’ It could be a Footy, a 1M, or my dad’s 45-footer, or even the sportscar in the driveway. I’d say that anyone who cares enough to put the time in to make a well-built Footy will not be treating it or letting others percieve it as a “toy” like you would the plastic truck the kids are pushing around in the sandbox.

You’re right when you say that some people like them for the cheap build ( call them “builders”) and some like to sail and/or race them (the “sailors”), and those people who just like it for the occasional diversion, but you’ve got these types in any kind of hobby. The bottom line is that everyone will be sailing them.

In the end, I just hope that the Footy class stays in the lineup with others, and develops into a boat that everybody will respect for whatever they see in it.


When you talk about the balsa boats, are those the ones without a skin of glass or tissue? IMO, a skin of glsss will definitely add strength to the hull.

I’m with Tomo on the toy issue. Big toys, little toys, it’s all fun and games.:cool:

It may be possible for Footys to be damaged by impacts while sailing. I’ve also seen how quickly they can change course in shifty 10-20 mph winds. They are very exciting to sail. I still think damage is much less likely than most other classes. Carbon is also a much more acoustically live material than wood. My wood hulls mostly go “boink”. For the record, I’m not in favor of demolition Footy racing.

I’m not sure where the “less than 8mph” tag came from. My better sailing days were with winds above 8mph. Gusts of 20mph will knock my boats down but they still try to make headway. Good winds and a small pond with few waves are where I’ve had the best performance. The lake’s waves sometimes make for more challenging conditions than this skipper can handle. The most common response that I get when folks watch my Footys is “wow, look at it go” and that’s not on a calm day.

I hope you’ll give Footys another run. I’m sure you can find or make a design that performs to your satisfaction. Besides, it keeps us off the streets at night.:devil3:

it keeps YOU off the street at night… lol. no, i totally agree, you make of a boat what you maek of it. if you treat it like a toy, then it is a toy. if you “sail it hard, and put it awa wet” it is a race boat. if it sits in your house, and gets polished its an eggshell/shed-queen -the nautical equivalant of a hanger-queen, and if it sits forgotten on your shelf collecting dust then call me, because you don’t deserve it! lol:D


you are correct in “my toy” interpretation. From what I have seen by experience, is someone buys a “toy” boat not capable of sailing in winds over 8 mph (arbitrary strength selected) but wants to perform all sorts of miracles on it so eventually it becomes a racer. Lots of money to try to do this when in essence, a few dollars more might have gotten him a boat (used) where a lot of the work had been done, or he could have purchased a used racing boat from an recognized class.

Tallastro & Tomohawk - when I refer to “toy” boats and you view all boats as toys, perhaps you need to better define how you would explain the difference between boats capable of only sailing in swimming pools due to size, construction, quality - those capable of more than a swimming pool but less than a large open lake (pond sailer) those who can handle an open lake but not offshore in Great Lakes or oceans.

Not to pick on any one class, but I think we can agree, there is a world of difference between a $200 plastic boat (maybe a WalMart item) that comes with sails with no roach and straight leeches, whose sails are sewn with hems on the trailing edge that by size are out of scale with the size of the sails and whose hull and keels are made to “look” like a big boat but not sail like one. These are the boats often purchased and then the owner tries to rebuild them to perform like a $900 IOM that is at his local pond.

We as knowledgeable in this hobby need to do a better job with new sailors to weed out these kinds of “performance ?” sailboats and steer beginners to better performing (and more expensive) boats that will give them a sense of true sailing. To put into context - if a new golfer were contemplating a set of polyethelyne childs play golf clubs, someone woud step forward and suggest the $10 set is impractical and a $300 set more appropriate. I suggest we do the same - but until you and I agree on what is a toy and what context that word is being used, this won’t go anywhere. Please re-read my post and as Niel noted - try to understand my definition of a toy and how I was using it. As an example, a plastic bathtub duckie - or a handcarved, custom duck decoy. I’ll leave it up to you what words you would use to provide a decription of their potential use, construction and value. Have at it.

I think you defined “toy boat” fairly well; the kind that says “looks and performs just like the big boat” on the box, and it really doesn’t. They come with the 49MHz transmitter (with a 100-foot range!) that uses a 9-Volt battery and 4 or 6 AA alkalines in the boat. Even the newest noob r/c modeler with one or two regattas under his belt could probably tell the difference.

I have an “Ocean 500” which is 19:" L.O.A, but it does sail kind of Ok, despite the “high-performance winged keel” and the single-panelled sails with the printing n it to look like Kevlar AC boat sails- down to the corner reinforcements. The box even mentioned about the double spreaders that give it racing performance. It’s not a toy, but not quite a lake/pond boat either- like my 1M is. I can bend the mast, adjust the vang, sheets and halyards, and, with the new sails I put made, it’ll beat to weather in up to 8MPH winds. :smiley:

I just sail it on lighter days, because it fits in the front seat of the car. Little kids think it’s cool.


Hmm, I guess I’d call the very limited boats ‘cheap’. That’s not to say that all inexpensive boats are cheap boats though. Footys can be very good performers and built for not too much money.

I just like the term ‘toy’ for hobby items that I own. The computer can be a toy, the motorcycle, the banjo, fiddle, guitar… I’ll try to think of a better term for us to use but right now I’m going to the lake. A new guy wants to check out his new Victoria. See ya in a bit.

We should get together some time, tallastro. I started on fiddle, then went to Basso, electric bass & guitar, and now I just keep a harp in the pocket or the car.:zbeer:

Well, I can call all my boats and trains “toys”. (Even tho some of my trains cost more than the car I drive). But…I can never look at my musical instuments as toys. Not sure why, will have to think about it. Tomohawk, glad you can get away with just one harp, I gotta have a dozen and the neck holder, getting rather Bob Dylanish lately!:slight_smile:

yah, i don’t know that musical instruments count as “toys”… maybe its cause wives/mothers/sisters/girlfriends don’t roll their eyes at musical instruments… yes, i think i may have hit it!:rolleyes:

So, along the same line of another topic that’s around here, how do we get even ourselves to not refer to Footies as Toys? Or what attitude or how should we all be referring to them?


Sorry to stay off topic but… from the above Bob am I to suspect that an American harp is somewhat different to a Welsh harp?

On topic, I tend to suspect that the word ‘toy’ only matters if you feel self concious about playing with them :devil3:

I have it on good authority that to the outsider looking on at the lake side there is no defining difference beween the IOM/US1M and the Footy or model shop RTR. I think we only worry about it from the inside… just my opinion as ever though.


Hmm, that doesn’t work for me. See, I play banjo. Rolled eyes come with the territory. And besides, what do you do with musical instruments? dramatic pause You play with them.:lol:

I haven’t thought of a better term for the crappy boats but ‘toy’ just doesn’t have any negative meaning for me. ‘Cheap toys’ I could go with or some other modifier.

I had fun at the lake today too. We helped the new guy understand his boat better and got him in the water. He spent quite a bit of time stalled and facing the wind. He’ll get the feel for it. It’s fun to see another newbie bitten by the sailing bug.


‘Harp’ is a southern slang name for a harmonica. Mouth harp.

When I was young, I considered women as “toys”:stuck_out_tongue: (What a mistake!!!) Now, I hope I never grow up and continue with the toys I play with now.
Yes, Graham, I could have been clearer since I do play a few different harp like string instruments too. (Favorite is autoharp and hammered dulcimer)
I sailed a Footy today, since it was so warm, but the water was 38*. After some sail adjustments it sailed well.

What do you think about the name ‘Shoebox Yachts?’ or suitcase Yachts? :smiley:

It has the Y-word to indicate that it’s not a toy, but shoebox and suitcase says it’s small.