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One-Design Fleets

In sailboat racing, equipment matters. A tub will almost never beat a rocket. One way to compensate for this and restore competition is to use a handicapping system. Here at Saratoga, we use the Portsmouth Yardstick to handicap multi-class races. There are a couple of unsatisfying features of handicap racing, though. First, you have only a vague idea of how you're performing against other boats until after the race is over and the committee has calculated the handicap. Second, there's no such thing as a perfect handicap system. Under some conditions, a boat that normally performs like a tub may look like a speedster and vice versa. No handicap system can account for all conditions that affect boat speed.

Another, more satisfying, way of restoring competition is to sail in similar kinds of boats. Who crosses the finish line first in such a race is then more likely to be decided by the skill of the crew. This is called one-design racing.


For each one-design class of boat there is a national or international association that establishes rules for the type and size of equipment that may be installed on boats of that class. For many classes, the intent of these rules is to keep the cost of maintaining a competitive boat reasonable. Otherwise, you would see equipment arms races where winning is as much a matter of your budget as your skill.

Below are the recognized one-design fleets at Saratoga by fleet size. In accepting new members, the club sometimes shows preference to owners of these class of boats. 

Laser Fleet
The Laser is a 14 foot single handed dagger board dinghy. It is one of the boats sailed in Olympic competition. It is easy to learn to sail, but provides plenty of racing challenge. While designed for the younger skipper, it is actively sailed by the young at heart into their retirement years. Class rules are set by the
Flying Scot Fleet 161
The Flying Scot is a Gordon Douglass designed 19 foot centerboard dinghy that's very stable and simply rigged, but also fun to race. Thus it serves double duty as both a family day sailer and a racer.
The Thistle is a 17 foot dinghy design by Gordon Douglass. It provides performance sailing to sailors with modest budgets. In the Portsmouth handicapping system, the Thistle is the boat against which every other rated boat is compared.
The Ensign is a 22 1/2 foot full-keel keelboat. Yet the keel is shallow enough to be a practical lake sailer.
Kestrel Fleet
The Kestrel is a British designed and manufactured 16 foot centerboard dinghy. To our knowledge, this is the only Kestrel fleet on this continent. So every year we hold the Kestrel North Americans at our club! A UK correspondent pointed us to the Kestrel Owner's Association.

MC Fleet

The MC was designed by famous US sailors Harry and Buddy Melges.  It is a 16 foot-long single sail dinghy that is normally sailed single-handed.  There are over 90 fleets in the USA and growing.



We are a family class and it is, most definitely, a family boat. Perfect for husbands and wives, sons and daughters, and best friends - we’ve got them all.  The Y-Flyer is an 18’ fun machine. It’s an easy-to-manage day sailor or a fast tactical racing boat. We sail all over the U.S. and Canada, but primarily in the Midwest and Southeast regions of the US.  Our National organization web site is