A few years ago, Joel Welter had the bright idea for a developmental class of sailboats with a low barrier to entry. By low he imagined boats that could be built in seventy hours and cost less than 300 bucks...he did it! Joel and his coworker, Brooks Dees, came up with the "5 Ply Challenge". Last night at the Northern California SNAME section meeting the first (and, to date, the only) contestants showed their stuff.
Joel and his lake scow yawl
Brooks with his FJ variant
Here's a link to the class rules, but the main feature is that "All parts of the vessel’s hull, foils, and cross members (for multi hulls) must be made from no more than 5 sheets of 4’ x 8’ x ¼” thick plywood". Interesting idea (followed by the emoticon for a studiously blank expression combined with raised eyebrows).
Very fun meeting, although there were no takers for the offer of rides as the possibility of total immersion seemed too great. There was a little suppressed tension during dinner as Niko's proa disappeared down the busy Estuary with no running lights ("They prohibited by Class").
As a connoisseur of events of this type, I'll give full marks to Niko for innovation and speed potential...hampered by control issues. Joel clearly won the cheapskate award (and the honors attendant to it)...his floation was bags of trash lashed to the gunwales. Brooks apparently is the overall sailing champion. He (pussy) did not put 64 Valient in the water last night, so we had no way of verifying it. And although there was no evidence of rule evasion, I suspect he must have cheated.