Cornelius Shields & the International One Design Class

The International class sloop was created by the legendary American yachtsman, Cornelius Shields as he sought to create a new one design for the Amorita Cup series of team races between Bermuda and Long Island Sound. Inspired by the beauty of the Six Metre yacht, Saga, and its performance, Shields' aim was to use it as the basis of a one design racing class that would have the advantages of both limiting the upwardly-spiraling costs of yacht racing, and putting competing crews on an equal footing as far as equipment was concerned. Shields commissioned Bjarne Aas of Frederikstad, Norway, to design a boat that was a smaller version of Saga which he also designed and built. This resulted in a 33 foot racer with less displacement, but greater beam of 6 ft 9 in. It measured 21 ft 5 in at the waterline, and had a draft of 5 ft 4 in and displaced 7,120 lb. The mast was 45 ft and carries 426 square feet of sail. The result is a beautiful reminder of yachting's "golden age" with the traditional metre-boat's long overhangs, graceful sheer, deep, narrow hull and lofty rig.

The cost of an IOD in 1936 was $2,670. Everything required including shipping charges from Norway were included in the price. With the backing of the enthusiastic Shields, the boat was quickly adopted by the top racers on Long Island Sound. The first of the initial order of 25 yachts was delivered at City Island, New York in December 1936.

The Internationals quickly spread. Bermuda took delivery of seven in January 1937. The next year fleets were established in Marblehead and Northeast Harbor, Maine, followed by fleets in Norway and Cowes. After the liberation of Norway, construction resumed at Frederikstad with boats going to San Francisco, Sweden, France, Oyster Bay, and Cowes. Fiberglass construction was introduced in the 1960s with great care taken by the class to ensure that the wood and glass yachts could race on an equal basis.

Today, there are ten fleets racing around the world -- Bermuda, Norway (Oslo), the United Kingdom (Falmouth), Sweden (Stenegsund), New York (two fleets -- Larchmont and Fishers Island), Maine (Northeast Harbor), Massachusetts (two fleets -- Marblehead and Nantucket) and California (San Francisco Bay).

Today IODs are actively raced in ten local fleets in America and Europe. Representatives of those fleets annually compete in a World Championship (the venue of which rotates between the fleets), a North American Championship, Bermuda Race Week, the Nantucket Invitational, a European Championship and occasional Team-racing championships hosted by individual fleets. Yachts from the International One Design class are used for the annual Bermuda Gold Cup as part of the professional World Match Racing Circuit.

Most recently, IODs were the first class awarded International Classic Yacht status by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).

Here is a model of the International One Design from the Land and Sea Collection.