In September 1996 a group of top-flight sailors travelled from around the world to Lake Garda for a trial of many different classes, to see which would go forward as the new twin-trapeze skiff for the Olympics in Sydney 2000. There were a number of new designs to consider. After an intensive week of trialing various designs, the 49er proved to be the clear favourite with the sailors, and by November 1996 it had been ratified as the new Olympic skiff.
Designed by Julian Bethwaite, the 49er is an evolution of the International 14’s and Aussie 18’s. The 49er has been sailed in every Olympics since 2000.
Mackay Boats built the new class moulds for the boats in 2009 which are now used by all builders worldwide. Construction changes were made at the same time to improve the stiffness and longevity of the boats and the wings underwent a significant upgrade and are now pinned in place instead of sitting on sliding tracks as previously done.