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Scuttlebutt News:
Taking the SKUD 18 for a sail
by Craig Leweck

(March 18, 2008) - Designed by Julian Bethwaite and selected in 2005 as the new two-person boat for the 2008 Paralympic Games this summer, the SKUD18 is still flying below the radar… but not for long. Its introduction in North America has been focused on disabled sailing, an area of the sport that lives in the long shadow of able-bodied competition. Disabled sailor Nick Scandone, who won the 2005 US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award, and who will represent the US at the games in China, is showcasing the boat on the west coast, and Scuttlebutt took it for a ride last week.

The SKUD 18 is a lead-assisted skiff. With a tube-launched asymmetrical spinnaker and a modified high performance 29er stayed rig, the boat is by no means limited to disabled sailors. Really easy to sail, it is possibly the perfect platform for learning how to sail. It’s fast and fun, but with the fixed seats, it eliminates the awkwardness that new sailors experience when moving around in a boat. For the daysailor, add surround sound and drink holders, and the SKUD 18 is a dandy way to tool around the harbor. Or, for the keelboat sailor who wants to experience dinghy sailing without all the athleticism needed, this would fit the bill too.

The skipper’s role is steering only, with a motorized seat that can tilt to match the boat’s heal angle. As for the crew, they are busy with all the controls in front of them, which include the main, jib, and spinnaker sheets. They too enjoy the motorized seat, and probably also shield the skipper from some of the splashes that likely occur when the breeze is on. It is easy to be excited for disabled sailing with the SKUD 18 being an option, and it will be interesting to see if the boat’s role grows beyond the disabled sector and into the mainstream of the sport.

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