Can someone explain to me why class regs do not allow a synthetic core material instead of balsa wood? Just curious.

They want to keep the boats identical. If you start letting foam in, then someone will use stiffer foam and then sneak in a little carbon, and then make the boat lighter and then, eventually you don't have a one-design.

Why not a honeycomb and pre-preg carbon sandwich?

1957 until now, they are all the same. Probably one of the purest one-designs you can find. The boats are also really durable, which keeps them pretty even.

Phil Scheetz
FS 4086

Sandy Douglas was on to something 55 years ago. After designing the Thistle and Highlander saiboats he refined everything into the Flying Scot: keep the boat simple, quick and affordable. That way we will benefit in practicing and enjoying the art of sailing vs. the constant arms race for expenditures in "go fast" gear.


I thoroughly understand the spirit of a one-design concept, however I fail to understand how the material used for coring could possibly present an advantage assuming the boat meets minimum weight criteria.

Short answer: By mandating the materials to be used rather than stiffness, weight, etc., the class rules stay simpler and easier to understand and easier to enforce. Simplicity is a virtue, whereas complexity results in expense and an arms race to seek loopholes, which is bad for the class.

Long answer: If the class allowed foam but still enforced its hull weight limit, someone would figure out a way to use foam on the ends of the boat and heavier materials in the middle, thus creating a boat of legal weight but with less pitching moment, which is faster. But imagine the expense of modifying your boat to have a core which is built of lighter material only at the ends.

Actually, the end grain balsa is a pretty good core material. Just keep the boat stored especially in the winter so that the water drains out of the boat, and better yet don't let the water accumulate in the boat in the first place. The term synthetic core covers alot of different core materials , some are exotic, some are good, but an awfull lot are worse in terme of longevity than the balsa. There are plenty of other daysailer/racer type sail boats that have soggy overweight synthetic core materials. FS 3512

Jay Lott said it best.

I have put foam cores into boats that had lose class regulations. I won't mention any names but needless to say I am happy that I got out of that class. We did some ridiculous things and the class is suffering for it.

I am not sure if there a technical reasons for the necessity of the balsa core in an FS. I would not be surprised if there was some random historical tid bit that someone could site as to why Sandy chose to use balsa.

This is a pretty interesting article on boat cores from a boat surveyor.

This person seems to dislike all cores. I think that he might be referring to some boats that have a VERY thin core and super thin glass over it to cut corners and costs. The FS is not built that way. Interestingly he dislikes the synthetic materials used by some builders more than balsa. There are several interesting articles about the haphazard use of high tech materials.

This has been an interesting thread. In thinking about it some more, one of the reasons that the Scot does so well is that the rules are simple, and the boat is really durable. I own boats in two other one-design classes, and in both, the common advice is that if you are a serious racer, you need a "newer" boat to do well.

Most sailboats get pretty soft over time, and most classes have adjusted the construction over time to improve the boat's longevity.

The Scot has not had to do this. The boat is nearly bomb-proof, and boats from the sixties still do well at our club amongst brand new boats.

Phil Scheetz
FS 4086

I am guessing that Sandy originally chose balsa as the coring material because at the time the boat was designed (mid 1950's), there were few if any synthetic coring materials, whereas balsa was already known to be compatible with polyester resin (fiberglass / resin construction was a relatively new boatbuilding technique at the time).

Someone with more longevity in the class than I may know the real story.

Balsa is light, cheap, ez to work with and very durable - AS LONG AS THERE IS NO WATER INTRUSION!

I a have a mid 60's Scot with perfect balsa all around from good upkeep from the various owners.

Points of discussion could be how to keep the balsa dry in some of the Scot's inherent weak points -

At least in my older Scot, those areas are:

- boom pole support at floor
- ALL through-balsa screws, bolts etc
- chainplates and SS chainplate covers

Keep those areas water-proof and you'll be set.

I've restored a few motor boats and my Scot - and am in the process of re-restoring my Scot that was heavily damaged in a storm a few years back.

In each of the areas mentioned, I remove the balsa completely, i.e. over size drill - fill hole with epoxy, and then re-drill appropriate sized hole, attach hardware and seal. If the sealant fails, which IT WILL !, the water finds only epoxy, and not the sponge like balsa...

This, along with preventive maintenance - and of course NOT getting caught in a squall and having your boat decimated - will keep your Scot alive for decades !

After restoring mine, I have an appreciation for how stout and smartly built they are. That's why there are so many older ones around...