Sailing: The story of the Mini 12

The story of the international 2.4 meter class - the Paralympics boat class in Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 - a very suitable class for people with disabilities and therefore in intensive use.

The Mini 12 class was introduced in various parts of the world shortly after the 1980 America's Cup in Newport, USA. Small boats were built based on the shape of the large 12 m boats. Both the "Illusion" and the "Shadow" were developed in the UK. A similar version, called the "Millimeter", was designed on the east coast of the United States and the "Defender" started life on the west coast of America in 1983. However, Scandinavia was the birthplace of the true Mini 12 class. Three well-known boat designers, Odd Lindqvist, Peter Norlin and Hakan Södergren designed a small yacht based on the scale of the 12m and 6m boats. This new creation measured 2.4, according to the international meter scale. The class became very popular for a variety of reasons. It gave famous Swedish sailors who had grown out of their dinghies and 6 m boats, but were tied by family, work or other commitments, an excellent opportunity to get back into competitive sailing.

Very adaptable

Another reason for the Mini 12's popularity is its special characteristics, allowing it to be easily adapted to suit people with severe disabilities. All over the world, it has enabled many sailors with disabilities to return to single-handed sailing or solo competitions in the same way as able-bodied sailors. This is because the boat is unsinkable, very easy to sail and can be easily adapted to cater for various disabilities. In January 1986, the disabled Swedish doctor Claes Hultling (a wheelchair user) brought two Swedish Mini 12s to Fremantle before the start of the championships for the large version of the 12 series. They proved a success, and a local production operation was soon in place. In early autumn 1986, the late Ben Lexcen, a famous yacht designer, also designed a Mini 12. The class was now well established and there was a clear need to set some formal rules.

New category

With the help of the Scandinavian Yachting Association, the final draft of the measurement principles for the Mini 12 class was presented to the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) at its annual meeting in London in 1988. A copy of the rules for the international Mini 12 class group and the rules for the class, as well as assessment documents can be obtained from: Svenska Seglarförbundet, Idrottens Hus, S-123S7 FARSTA, Sweden. Some people may think that the fact that the boat is a developing class rather than a one-design class is a disadvantage. However, the opposite actually applies. This is one of the main reasons why this class has become so attractive for many different kinds of sailors. Adaptations and changes can be made to the cockpit to prevent people who are paralyzed (legs or one-sided paralysis) or have had various kinds of amputations from having to compete with able-bodied sailors under the same conditions. It also guarantees that this class will continue to attract boat builders, designers and well-known, qualified and proficient sailors throughout the world over the coming years.

This is a short introduction to the story of the Mini 12 over the past decade. More than ten different designs based on these measurement rules are now being built in three continents, meaning that other attempts to develop a one design class, such as "The Defender" or "The Illusion" will always remain local initiatives.

Source: Deutscher Rollstuhlsportverband