The i550 is an 18 foot performance sailboat designed for amateur home builders. The performance is thrilling and has given many sailors memorable days on the water. i550’s plane quickly and can be sailed single handed, two crew make it lots of fun, and on windy days three will have a thrilling ride.
The i550 was designed with the garage builder in mind. One of the most important considerations for a garage project is “will it fit.” Most garages are 20 feet long inside the door to the back wall. The i550 will fit. Another consideration is that you can park it in the garage when you have finished your build, safe, clean and dry and not have to pay yard storage fees. It is easily towed with a normal sedan, a great advantage and your sailing horizons are limitless.
The cabin will accommodate two for camp cruising and shelter.
Weight 800 lbs. (363 kg)
Length 18 feet or 5.50 meters (hence the 550 in the name)
Beam 8 feet
WL Beam 4 feet 6 inches inches
Draft - 10 inches (300 mm) keel raised for trailering
4’ 8” keel down while sailing
Keel weight 150 lbs minimum 185 lbs maximum
Sail area 250 sq. ft. Main & Jib
Spinnaker 350 sq. ft.
Fastest boat speed: well above 15 knots, there are Youtube videos of boats at speed.
The primary building materials are 1/4” (6 mm) marine plywood, epoxy, fiberglass and some carbon fiber. The shape of the boat has been drawn with simplicity in mind and has roots in historic Long Island Sound oyster boats. Those boats were simple and fast with a heavy load of oysters. First back to the packing house got the best price, a race for the money every day was a real stimulus for building fast hull shapes. The name Sharpie defined them.
The founders of West System Epoxy, Jan and Meade Gougeon, built an i550 for themselves, remarking on the power of the i550 expressed as sail area to wetted surface area. There is a great amount of horsepower to weight, period. They filmed themselves building their i550 “ Hot Canary, for the Everglades Challenge and edited it down
to 3 minutes from 12,000 frames.
Wood is an outstanding engineering material when combined with epoxy, an outstanding glue and waterproof coating.
It is used throughout the construction of the boat. Each part of the boat is coated with epoxy on all surfaces to seal out water. When mixed with different powders and fibers it can be thickened to form a structural peanut butter-like reinforcement or smooth as silk for painting surfaces. Dry wood lasts forever, go ask the Egyptian Pharos.
Boats built using epoxy/wood composite 40 years ago are as strong as the day they were launched. Boats built this way last as long or longer than fiberglass boats and remain stronger longer. They smell better, too.
There is an enthusiastic group of builders to be joined at i550class.org . A tremendous depth of knowledge can be found there and help for any questions that might come up is offered freely. They welcome new people. A number of very skilled and knowledgeable builders are posting there.
We invite you to email or phone us with questions for plans, full size durable patterns of the hull and frames and precut kit sets of the hull panels and frames . Plans are sent by email .pdf files. CNC .dxf files for CNC routers for those with access to these great tools.