A pond yacht is a small, radio-controlled version of a large sailing vessel. Often built from the original drawings of a full-size ship, the pond yacht is a scale replica of a wind-powered ocean-goer that can provide hours of fun at a local park or backyard pond. Typically patterned after a single-mast vessel, there are occasionally two-masted pond yacht designs that can take a more skilled operator to effectively sail the small schooner across the water. Commonly built by the owner, these down-sized sailing vessels are equipped with electronic servos that operate both the rudder as well as the sail components and rigging.
Popularized in the 1920s and 1930s, pond yacht racing was a common sport in many city ponds and parks. The sport offered the participants a chance to display their sailing skills without requiring expensive sailing crafts, slips and maintenance fees. Unlike the original versions of the pond yacht that required the sailors to read the wind and set the vessel for a straight line run across the pond, the modern boats incorporate a remote-control option to adjust course as necessary. Some competitions require the boats to navigate through an obstacle course marked by buoys and floating flag stands.
While there are no specific measurements that must be adhered to when building a pond yacht for personal amusement, there are stringent dimensional requirements on both hull and sail size for those boats intended to compete in sanctioned races. Much like the Soap Box Derby®, organizations offer racing activities and pleasure sailing activities with points and seasonal trophies awarded to paid membership holders of specifically-built boats. Many clubs will allow the owner of a larger boat to sail with smaller boats, however, the larger pond yacht is not able to win prizes.
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There are non-remote controlled versions of the pond yacht available to owners who prefer a more nostalgic boat as well as younger and entry-level boaters. The hand-control system uses a handle and strings attached to the boat to operate the vessel in a straight line from the shoreline. This type of boat requires the owner to walk the shoreline beside the boat as it sails along the pond. One of the primary advantages of the hand-line control is the ability of the owner to retrieve a boat that has succumbed to a no-wind situation. The hand-controlled pond yacht is often able to be upgraded to a remote-controlled boat with little work and expense.