The SKUD18 is the result of collaboration between Access Sailing's Chris Mitchell and B&B Technology and Innovation - Julian Bethwaite and Martin Billoch.
By combining Mitchell's unique understanding and ideology of sailing for people with disabilities with 20 years of Bethwaite's high performance skiff experience, the result is the innovative 'lead assisted skiff' (LAS), the SKUD18.
The boat is an exciting challenge for able-bodied and disabled sailors alike. This boat has been designed from a performance basis, to offer scintillating, crisp and snappy response to sailors regardless of their mobility.
Mitchell, designer of all Access sailcraft and support equipment notes, 'The SKUD18 is very versatile and can be handled by a variety of crew configurations. The helmsperson can transfer manually and be steering with tillers, or be in a fixed seat on the centreline using a manual joystick, push/pull rods, or a servo assist joystick with full control of all functions. The forward crew can either be on the centreline, transferring manually, even riding trapeze. As its name denotes, the SKUD18 is a SKiff of Universal Design and can be sailed by all levels of physical ability.'
For Paralympic competition the SKUD18 sails with two sailors seated on the centreline.
Chris Mitchell (SKUD 18 designer) and Julian Bethwaite (co-designer), in cooperation with the IFDS, signed an agreement in September 2006 by which Bethwaite Design became the builder of note and completed the rollout of the SKUD 18 through the 2008 Paralympic Games, Qingdao, China.
Over that two year period, Access Sailing (licensor of the SKUD 18) and Bethwaite Design worked with the SKUD Class Management Committee, the International Access Class Association and the sailors to supply the best equipment possible for teams preparing for the Games.
Since October 2008, the responsibility for building the SKUD 18 has reverted to Access Sailing. The company has taken this opportunity to implement some significant modifications to the boat and the first MKII SKUD 18s have now been shipped to customers in Europe.
The key changes are:
· Gunwale Join – The dinghy style rollover gunwale has been replaced with a keelboat style join, reducing overall beam, drag and the potential for damage while the boat is alongside.
· Chainplates – New chainplates are fixed to a bulkhead inside the hull and have incorporated lifting points
· Cowling – A new cowling that extends to the stem head fitting and matches the new gunwale shape has been adopted.
· Keel Lock-Down – An 8mm stainless steel pin now passes laterally through two substantial fittings on the centreboard case and the top of the centreboard.
· Keel Bulb Fixing – Two 12mm pins are now fitted laterally to enable fixing and removal of the bulb while on a trailer or cradle.
· Rudders – Stainless steel cassette style rudder stocks, drop-in GRP rudders, adjustable tie-rod and tiller steering are now provided standard with new boats.
· Rig – Super Spar in the UK have been engaged to produce rigs for the MKII boats. This includes a single piece aluminium lower section, Carbon Fibre / GRP tip, compression boom vang (which frees up cockpit space) and provision for trapeze.
All existing SKUD18s and Bethwaite Design components remain able to meet class rules requirements.
Access Sailing is now working in conjunction with the IACA's recently elected SKUD 18 Committee to support the development of the class. It is expected that a number of new nations will be preparing for the 2012 Two-Person Paralympic Sailing Competition in Weymouth, and also that the SKUD 18 will achieve growing acceptance as lightweight two and three person sportsboat for club racing and training.