Almost all high school scholastic sailing is done in one of two major boat classes: the 420 or the FJ. Both are 14-foot double-handed “dinghys” sailed by a skipper—who steers the boat and handles the main sail—and a crew—who balances the boat and handles the jib (front sail). A small number of regattas are sailed in single-handed Laser sailboats.
At home regattas and at practice, NTS sails on E420 sailboats owned by the Chicago Yacht Club. CYC purchased a brand-new fleet of 23 E420s from manufacturer Zim Sailing in 2018.
The E420 is a scholastic version of the C420 (Club 420), which is a boat many NTS sailors sail in the non-scholastic season when club sailing. The E420 omits the spinnaker and trapeze hardware on the C420 and ads a positively-buoyant sealed bow. Both are related to the I420 (International 420) used in Europe and the 470 class sailed in the Olympics.
Flying Junior (FJ)
To the untrained eye, an FJ looks almost indistinguishable from a 420.
The FJ has its origins in the Netherlands, where it was originally developed in 1955 as a trainer for the Olympic-class Flying Dutchman. Technically, the version used in the United States today is the CFJ, which is slightly different from the International FJ used in Europe.
Want an easy way for to tell the difference between a 420 and an FJ? All FJs in the U.S. have the class indicator “CFJ” on the mainsail.
Hosts Provide Boats
The host of every high school regatta is responsible to provide the boats sailed by all competitors. Sailors rotate through the fleet of boats during a regatta to make sure no team has an advantage due to the boat(s) sailed.
When NTS sailors travel to away regattas, they may well sailing in either 420s or FJs.
The 420 is almost ubiquitous in the Midwest, but on the coasts sailors will find a mix of 420s or FJs.
The Laser is another 14-foot sailboat class. It is designed to be sailed single-handed (i.e. just a skipper). There are a small number of high school scholastic events sailed in Lasers. For these events sailors provide their own boats.