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What Is a Maxi Yacht?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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A maxi yacht is a type of sailboat used primarily for racing, though there are also recreational models. The term maxi refers to the maximum allowable length as decreed by the racing guideline system in current use. It originated with the International Offshore Rule (IOR), a system which was then essentially replaced by the CHS and the International Measurement Systems (IMS). This measurement is slightly less than the actual length of the craft and takes into consideration other elements that affect speed, such as the age and condition of the boat. There is also a Swedish boat brand name known as Maxi Yacht.

Under the IOR system, the original maxi yacht measurement was 70 feet (21 meters). Modern ships, often referred to as supermaxis, can be from to 75 to 82 feet (23 to 25 meters). Maxi yachts used for racing are typically assigned one number that is meant to encompass a small range of possible lengths, rather than indicate the specific size. For example, 47 to 52 feet (14 to 16 meters) in actual length could be categorized as 40 feet (12 meters).

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Approximate maxi yacht length can be the only commonality among craft that are used for racing. Occasionally other specifications may be required for a particular race so that the initial speed capabilities of each ship are similar. Otherwise, the ships are often customized for optimum speed and performance. Factors that can affect the speed of a ship include the material and configuration of the sails and the resins and fibers used to build the craft. Some of these methods of customization have been controversial in racing circles, as they are sometimes believed to give an unfair advantage.

The maxi yacht has been a popular racing craft since the 1970s. It has both been a part of races with several types of boats and featured in events created specifically for the maxi. Over the years, the overall size of the craft has increased, with new models being as long as 90 to 100 feet (27 to 30 meters). This new generation of boat is often referred to as a supermaxi.

Olympic medalist and world champion sailor Pelle Petterson is the designer of the Maxi Yacht brand. These craft tend to be 34 to 42 feet (10 to 13 meters). They come in three models, the Maxi 1300, Maxi 1060, and Maxi SM 40. The craft are built on Gotland Island in Sweden.

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