A Spirit-of-Tradition Class Manifesto

Spirit-of-Tradition Racing Yachts.

Spirit-of-Tradition racing classes are growing at regattas, like this 2016 Argentario Sailing Week in the eastern Mediterranean.

You know it’s a good fight when it’s goes on for 25 years! Over the last decades, nothing has gotten the Spirit-of-Tradition community hotter under the collar than what is — and what isn’t — a “Spirit-of-Tradition” raceboat. Classing the newer thoroughbreds has been a concern. As is, how to level the playing for older boats, given the rush to owner embellishments like structure refits, improved equipment, and modern sailing hardware. 

We’ve evolved our own strong opinions on setting procedural guidelines for Spirit-of-Tradition racing. And with the weather warming, and race season upon us, we think it’s time for an SoT Racer’s Manifesto: A rubric, if you will, to establish clear guidelines to classing boats and keep the fun going out on the race course.

Man the ramparts, comrades: Here is what we believe when it comes to SoT Racing.


For any design to be classed as a Spirit-of-Tradition raceboat, it must:

  1. Exhibit some recognizable continuation of the heritage of yachting and yacht building while embracing clear advancements in design and industry tech. Static replicas are not SOT boats. Period.  
  2. Spirit of Tradition Racing Yacht by Stephens Waring Yacht Design.

    Proper SoT — mix references to classic designs, with a deep embrace of new technologies and methods.

    Employ advancements in yacht design and technology by use of modern materials and systems technology, in sailing performance and propulsion technology, and innovate on aesthetic beauty in ways that tie our industry’s present work to the past.

  3. Feature aesthetic and functional aspects of a specific historical naval design that can be easily explained to race committees and other SOT owners.  
  4. Combine contemporary naval architecture with classical grace and beauty as a priority; present a broad and inclusive acceptance of new ideas that help maintain a continuum of design, past to present.
  5. Actively, and graciously, welcome new sailors.


The Spirit-of-Tradition Mission Statement:

SoT designs shall embody and blend classic naval idioms with modern materials, systems technology, performance and propulsion. We welcome any and all innovation that ties the marine industry’s past to its future.


The Spirit-of-Tradition Sailing Yacht Guideline 

  • SoT yacht design should be dated 1975 or later. Any yacht designed before this year should be considered a “Classic” or “Vintage” boat.

Why 1975? Several race committees already use this cut-off year with success. The date works in conjunction with development of other critical comparative technologies in sailing, as well as marking a notable break towards more modern hull design. Any design after 1975 will be considered with the following guidelines applied.

  • SoT designs must employ aesthetic detail, hull shaping, inspired from specific classic and vintage yacht and workboat designs.

Spirit-of-Tradition yacht design is as much about exploring ideas as it is about inclusion and participation. Let’s push the boundaries, but we’ll expect a certain expression of intent. The key to an SoT design is placing that design in the context of history.

  • SoT yachts are built of any material, or combination of materials in any method, by any builder.

HoiAn 3

Properly managed SOT boats offer high-performance in a comfortable, safe and family-friendly platform.

The engineering of a yacht’s structure shall not be restrained.  When executing any project we must weigh cost/benefit/performance issues with overriding production measures and engineering solutions.  It has never been reasonable to handicap performance, or disregard entry to race, based on the yacht’s construction-type.

  • A SoT design must find  appreciation of the vessel as an evolution from a tangible “Classic” style.

With this point, a yacht’s design must take a core essence to the Spirit-of-Tradition idiom.  The committee must agree, even if by democratic vote, that the design exemplifies some adherence to the Classic, Vintage, perhaps Ancient. Together with the previous point, we look to a designer’s intent and are willing for a dialogue that is open to the expression of ideas.

  • Modern sails, rigging, and spars are encouraged, but not required.

We encourage the implementation of the newest materials and tech for sails and rigging.  We encourage keeping a boat finely tuned and maintained to reflect a thoroughbred credential, and keep a competitive edge.  The constant attention to good upkeep and investment reflects well and is core for keeping the edge on these boats.

  • Modern sailing/deck hardware and running rigging is encouraged, but not required.

As part of the Spirit-of-Tradition narrative and the DNA for smart inventive design, employment of modern sail handling and hardware is one more intrinsic component to a successful SoT yacht.

  • All boats to enter an SoT racing event will be approved by the racing committee, while observing these guidelines.

The inclusive and innovative ethic at the heart of the spirit of tradition movement should be easy enough to move out on the race course. Let’s begin this effort today.

We look forward to seeing your ideas.