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Classes at FSC

Most racing at FSC is organised in classes in order to provide fair and competitive events. At present there are eight classes.

The majority of classes are handicapped, but the Sunbeams are ‘one-designs’ and simply race on a ‘first past the post’ basis. The Multihull class has only Firebirds in it at present and also sails as a ‘one-designs’ class (despite some differences, notably in sail areas).

Click on the button for more information (and click it again to collapse the information).

Falmouth Working Boats were originally just that. They fished the oyster beds in the Carrick Roads. Some of them are over 100 years old, but there are also more modern boats (sometimes constructed of fibreglass or ferro-concrete). A few remnants of the working Working Boats still do so, but you are much more likely to see them racing. Around 20 compete through the year, and almost all of them can be found at the World Championships, held in early July.

The Working Boats race in two classes, B and C, where C are the smaller boats.

The Working Boats have their own Association: the Falmouth Working Boats Association, which recently (2017) published a booklet The Seventh Falmouth Working Boats Handbook, which, though slightly incomplete and out of date, provides an interesting and whimsical insight into the culture and ethos of the Working Boats and their crews.

The class association determines their handicaps, which may be found here.


Multihulls means Firebirds. The port area is home to many of the total of sixteen Firebirds constructed. A recent Championship attracted 9 of them.

They are allegedly the fastest production catamaran, with a claimed maximum speed of 27 knots.

There are some differences between the catamarans in the class (noticeably in the sails), but the class wished to be treated as a one design. However we do record finishing times, although these are seldom published.

A list of the Firebirds who have been registered to race at FSC is available here.


The gaffers are gaff-rigged boats which look superficially like small working boats. There is great variation among them, no two are alike. The ‘Restricted 18s’ are also gaff rigged, and while they compete during Falmouth Sailing Week, they do so in their own class, and they are rarely seen racing at Flushing, welcome though they would be.

The gaffers also have a number of ‘special’ races each year: the ‘backwards races’ where they sail from the Club up towards Penryn and back down. These races have to be fitted in with appropriate tides. It would be embarrassing to be stuck on the mud-flats of Penryn! An account of the origin of this race may be found here.

The class determines their handicaps, which may be found here.


The majority of cruising and racing yachts at FSC race in Q, E or U class.

They race under the IRC (International Racing Certificate) handicap, a rating rule designed to handicap different designs of keelboats allowing them to race together; unlike a performance handicap a rating is not altered between races according to the individual boat’s performance, but is based on the physical measurements of the boat.

An IRC rating is calculated by RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) using measurements of the boat; her length, weight, draft, rig size, sail area, and specific characteristics and features. The methods and formulæ used for the calculation of IRC ratings are not published. This prevents designers taking advantage of the rule when designing new boats and very substantially increases the competitive lifetime of IRC rated boats.

Handicaps (ratings) are issued each year (fo a fee) and can be found on the IRC website. The handicaps for boats registered to race at FSC can be found here.


Sunbeams have been racing in the port since 1924. The first race took place at Flushing at 1410 on Saturday May 31st, with six boats. One of those six won its class in a recent Falmouth Sailing Week.

The Sunbeam was designed in 1922 by Alfred Westmancott. In all some 55 boats have been built, and currently 26 are in the Falmouth area.

In February 1923 the Solent Cruising and Racing Association allotted the letter V to the class. Flushing Sailing Club also uses the same letter on its club burgee, but the Club was founded in 1921, and it is not known when the burgee was adopted. Our records are hazy. Some say that the adoption of the V by the club was in recognition of the Dutch port of Vlissingen, often rendered in English as Flushing. Many Dutch engineers are reputed to have been involved in building the quays and sea walls in Flushing.

An idiosyncrasy of the class is that the boats mostly end in the letter ‘y’. The founders of the new Sunbeam Class had understood the new design would be called the ‘Y’ class and so declared that all the yachts should have names ending in ‘y’. When it came to receiving the sail insignia it turned out to be ‘V’ instead of ‘Y’ but the name rule had already been made so many of the class still have names ending in ‘y’ (source). This tradition has been maintained with the recently built Sunbeams.

The Silver Sunbeam race takes place around the anniversary of the first Sunbeam race at Flushing in 1924. Seven new boats had been delivered to the Docks a day or two before by railway from the Isle of Wight. The seven owners drew lots to decide who would receive which boat. Six of them took part in their first race. According to the race report only two of the boats had been able to stretch their new cotton sails, and they duly finished first and second.

The original boats to the Sunbeam design were ordered by owners “fed up with handicap racing,” and were christened Falmouth One Designs. The name was in use long after the 1939–1945 war. The name Sunbeam came to the fore when the joint class was established with the others at Itchenor SC on Chichester Harbour.

As a one design class, handicaps do not apply to this class. However we do record finishing times, although these are seldom published.

A list of all the Sunbeams currently registered to race at FSC is available here.

Hull colours

The Sunbeams can be identified by their hull colours. The following chart is an approximation of the true colours.

Hull colours, class numbers, names

sunbeam hull colours

Memorabilia: Sunbeam owners (undated)

sunbeam owners

W is a ‘white’-sail class, where the boats do not use spinnakers. This is an excellent opportunity for short-handed crews, or crews who don’t want the added stress and organisation of flying (and retrieving) spinnakers.

Some W class boats will also compete in either Q or U class when they fly a spinnaker. Note that once a skipper has elected to sail in a class in a particular series s/he may not also sail in that series in a different class. However they are free to sail other series in another class.

W class sail under the South West Yacht Time Correction (swYTC or YTC), a local handicap which is freely available on submission of the necessary information. A list of all the boats currently registered to race in W-class at FSC, together with their handicap, is available here.

burgee
Sam Harding

B/C class captain:
Sam Harding

Peter Stephens

M class captain:
Peter Stephens

Mike Maguire

Mike Maguire:
G class captain

Mel Sharp

Mel Sharp
Q class captain

Chris Bell

Chris Bell
E class captain

Chris Jellis

Chris Jellis
U class captain

David Mantle

David Mantle:
V Class Vice-Captain

Len Cheshire

Len Cheshire
W Class Captain