We ask top sailors and marine industry gurus to choose the coolest and most innovative yachts of our times. Eddie Warden Owen nominates The Ultra 30
“The Ultra 30s were the coolest boats, were way ahead of their time,” says Eddie Warden Owen, who skippered an Ultra 30 and also ran the circuit for several years.
The Ultra 30 circuit was the original spectator-friendly sailing concept, with short-course, crash-and-burn style racing broadcast on BBC Grandstand, the prime Saturday sports show of the 1990s.
It attracted Olympic sailors and commercial sponsorship, and developed a multi-stage circuit.
The dinghies were monstrously overpowered, with bowsprits up to 15ft long and over 500ft2 of sail area balanced by a crew of nine that required complex crew co-ordination in every manoeuvre.
“You had nine crew on racks and then we put trapezes on – it led to a huge step up in speed. They were unbelievable to sail.
“Even the best would capsize and at the end of a 20-minute race the crew would be completely exhausted. And we’d have three races a day,” Warden Owen recalls.
The Ultra 30 stats rating:
Top speed: 25 knots
Berths: 0 (9 trapezes)
Adrenalin factor: 95%
Eddie Warden Owen
Eddie Warden Owen is CEO of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and has skippered, helmed and coached for many top teams.
He graduated from sailing GP14s, Fireballs and 505s to Olympic selection in the 470 class in 1980.
He was the UK J/24 champion four years in a row and has been involved in seven America’s Cup campaigns.
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