Boats in the International A Class are not limited in length, but are controlled by a formula which balances waterline length, displacement, and sail area. Using this formula, sail area reduces as displacement reduces and as waterline length increases. The formula was devised in 1922 by Major Malden Heckstall-Smith, then editor of the Yachting Monthly, for testing an alternative to the International Linear rule. A similar rating rule is still in use today in the 5.5 Metre class rule which also uses elements of the Linear rule. Although A Class boats are of a heavy ‘type’ there is flexibility to create lighter hull forms which excel in brisker conditions. Nevertheless they are big boats compared with other classes and a fleet of A Class boats is an impressive sight. A modern A Class will usually be made using carbon fibre - hull, foils and spars.
The class was given Classic Class status in 2004. Fleets of A Class are largely limited to England and Australia, although of recent times there have been a number of boats built in Germany and Switzerland. Due to the large size of the boats, an International racing circuit has not developed, and the A Class are sailed mostly as club boats. In Australia, the A Class is sailed mostly in Western Australia, NSW, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia. We have maintained a National Championship regatta as well as State Championships. A few regional events take place, mostly in WA and NSW.
Western Australia have been especially prominent in this class, having won 10 of the last 12 National Championships. The only two we have not taken out were won by visiting champion skippers from the UK. The class tends to be a specialist class, and not one which we would recommend a new skipper undertake.