An Olympic Class on Lake Minnetonka

by Bill Tomlinson

That's right, the 21' Yngling will be in the Olympics in Athens this summer, and also sailing on Lake Minnetonka. The Minnetonka Yacht Club has included a fleet of Ynglings for over 20 seasons, and has a current roster of about 25 active boats.
And, there's always room for more of you out there to join them.
About the boat: The Yngling is an attractive, fast, and seaworthy small racing keelboat -- an agreeable cross between a planing dinghy and a keelboat. Its award-winning design is classic, and its hand laid up glass construction is so durable that several boats in our fleet are between 20 and 30 years old. And still very competitive, no less.
The Yngling shares the Soling's sleek form, well-balanced rig and responsive helm, yet sails happily with a 3-person crew weight of 450 - 500 lbs. (200 - 230 kg.). It performs in a zephyr, yet retains control in 25 knots. Under spinnaker it is a lively performer, happily surfing waves.
A new Yngling costs less than most similar-sized racing keelboats. Strict one-design rules curb expensive modification. Sturdy construction produces simple and inexpensive maintenance, and a durable hull.
Yngling class associations throughout the world are strong and enthusiastic, backed by ISAF International Class status since 1979. The Yngling is the boat for the 2004 Olympic Women's Keelboat event. Over 4,000 boats are sailing worldwide. There are a few used boats available here in Minnesota, and more have become available for the Okoboji Fleet due to new boat purchases. The North American Championship Regatta was sailed on Lake Minnetonka last August, and rotates to Okoboji in Iowa (August 13-15) before heading to Great Lakes and eastern seaboard venues.
Crew-wise the Yngling can be sailed nicely by two in light to medium wind ranges. In breezes over 20, most of the skippers prefer to grab a 3rd for an extra set of hands, and a little more ballast on the rail. One of the fleet regulars sails often with just his six-year old son as crew, and several Ynglings are sailed by husband/wife teams. The fleet welcomes new members at all skill levels and experience. The Yngling is a great learning boat with its manageable sail plan and ease of maneuverability. At 1,340 pounds it is easy to trailer and store as well.
At the 2004 American Diabetes Association Regatta, the Yngling fleet will make an effort to invite the public to take part as crew or perhaps by chartering so to make a taste of this fun little keelboat available. Details will be available on the Minnetonka Yngling Fleet Web site which can be reached by clicking the Y logo on the MYC Web site
The skilled women sailors of the world, and especially of the US, have really come on strong! The following is an excerpt from an article by Class President Bruce Chafee that was featured in our recent class newsletter:

What Happened to Equal Rights?
Many ask me what's new with the women Olympic campaigners, and with the class internationally. One answer covers both questions for this summer: America's Betsy Alison, with Lee Icyda and Suzy Leech, won the Yngling Open Worlds in July! The fleet this year was an all-time high -- 88 boats -- and the other record is that this was the first Worlds won by an all-women's team. (historians might remember that Betsy almost did this in 2001 in Newport, bettered there narrowly by Austrian men) Later in September, another American team won the Yngling Women's Worlds -- Hannah Swett , with Joan Touchette and Melissa Purdy. From the Midwest (Nashotah, WI), Sally Barkow has put an excellent effort forth, and was also the winner of the prestigious Rolex Cup.
I have had the pleasure of meeting and racing against most of the world's Olympic Yngling campaigners, and I can report many things including -
There are many talented sailors in this group that are spending an amazing amount of time training (in addition to simply racing!) and it's greatly building their skills.
Some guys have quit the class because they don't want to be beaten by "the girls";
Most of those guys would have been beaten by many girls by now.
Most of us don't mind being beaten by women, and we see the addition of Olympic women as a net benefit to the class in terms of number of races, health of sailmakers and awareness; and finally,
America has the deepest and strongest Olympic Yngling team of any nation.
The American women are in the straightaway now; the Olympic Trials regatta comes in February. All the marbles will be on this one regatta for them (only one team goes to Athens), and they will be training in earnest in Florida beforehand. Stay tuned to the regatta page at to see who comes out on top when it counts!
In 2005 we will for the first time race for the NAs in North America. We'll go either to Toronto or to Kingston, Ontario. Either will provide an excellent regatta site. Plus, if the Canadian entries at regatta parties are any indication, we are in for a mighty fun time!
The next year or two present an extraordinarily propitious time for yacht clubs to buy Yngling fleets. Here's why:
1) The fleet in Newport is for sale at $10,000 per boat. This presents an amazing opportunity for a club to start a new one-design program with 8 exactly matched boats.
2) Come February, when all but one team lose the US Olympic Trials, several top boats will likely be for sale, at "I-need-a-break-from-sailing" low prices. This is another amazing opportunity for a new fleet.
3) Our class still has many very inexpensive ($1,000 - $5,000) boats for sale, and owing to the Yngling's construction these are almost all potentially very competitive. This is a great opportunity for newer members of a club to help build a fleet without a huge investment.
4) All three of these categories of boats will be very closely matched in speed, as we all know. A visitor to the Fall Equinox Regatta this September was stunned by the very small difference in boat-speed between himself, the newbie and last place finisher, and the regatta leaders who were current and former NA champs. That's what a tight one -design offers, and most similar boats cannot match the Yngling there.
Here's how to join the fun here in Minnesota. You've heard of the boat now and since it's Olympic you just need to contact Tom Maple, Jr. His phone number is 952-474-4514 and his email is: He has his finger on available used boats and can help you match your budget and your preferences. He can tell you about the ease and joy of sailing this great little boat, its manageable sail plan, and the nature of the fleet.
To learn about Minnetonka Yacht Club, go to, or call Carol McGoldrick, MYC club manager and if she and her family are not out sailing their Yngling at the time, will mail you information about registration, fees, and boat storage opportunities. That number is 952-474-4457, or