The Wheeler Class
Featured in Model Yachting Magazine #131
45 Vasilakos Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025
The Wheeler is a large, high performance boat that is a 1/12th scale, one-design class. The design comes from a test model of a 70ís era Maxi Ocean Racer, code named Orca designed to compete in the Transpac. Tom Wheeler an aerospace engineer with 12-meter experience, drew the hull with an assist from George Ribeiro for the appendages, sail plan and model building. The intent was to compete successfully against Blackfin and Windward Passage, the Maxis to beat in that era.
Performance is the name of the game and these boats will get up on plane in a breeze, particularly on a reach. Many top sailors will attest, including Nationally ranked IOM skippers; this is as close to "real boat" sailing as you will find in a R/C model boat.
The boat is 79" in overall length, 63" at the waterline with a 15" beam and carrying 2,000 square inches of sail on a fractional rig. The minimum weight of the boat is 30 pounds, although most boats in the fleet are closer to 32 pounds (up to 35 lbs). The keel bulb weighs in at 19 pounds.
As a one-design class; the hull form, rudder and rig/sail dimensions are controlled by rule. That said there are opportunities for significant innovations in electronics and sail control; two channel boats are competitive as are boats operating with up to 7 channels. Additional features include powered boom vangs (introduced by Adrian Olson), powered backstay tension and jib trim in order to provide improved on the water sail control, similar to a "real boat". Multiple rigs are not required and the boat moves well across the wind ranges.