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Team McLube


The Publisher

Mar 6, 2013, 3:46 PM

Post #1 of 8 (23869 views)

Jennifer French, who claimed the silver medal in the doublehanded SKUD 18 event at the 2012 Paralympic Games, was honored last week as the recipient of US Sailing's 2012 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. Her award makes Jen the first female to be recognized for her disabled sailing achievements, but what she would really like now is to go mix it up on the able-bodied race course.

Designed by Julian Bethwaite and selected in 2005 as the new two-person boat for the 2008 Paralympic Games this summer, the SKUD18 continues to fly below the radar. "The 2.4 and the Sonar both began with able-bodied racing; they each had established classes before they became Paralympic boats," explained French. "But the SKUD 18 was just the opposite. It has been harder to build on the able-bodied side; that's the crux that the boat needs to overcome."

Maybe it's the boat's name. The Urban Dictionary defines Skud as: 1) A person that appears attractive from far away, but when seen closer is actually ugly; 2) A derogatory reference to someone or something; or 3) A spliff with only tobacco at the beginning, the rest being purely marijuana. None of these references seem to have great marketing qualities.

"It is remarkable that this boat is only used for disabled sailing," remarked Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck, who reviewed the boat in 2008. "It has all the elements of a skiff with the benefit of being lead assisted. With a tube-launched asymmetrical spinnaker and a modified high performance 29er stayed rig, the boat is fast and fun to sail. For people learning how to sail, the fixed seats eliminate 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 speedy way to tool around the harbor. And for the aging keelboat sailor it provides the dinghy experience without all the athleticism needed."

Interestingly, the SKUD's commitment to disabled sailing may also become its detriment. "It is a fun boat to sail, but what I dearly missed while doing the campaign is that it is not an open class," said French. "I want to be able to compete against able-bodied people too. But what the boat did introduce me to was the fun of sailing with an asymmetrical spinnaker. Once you sail with that configuration you kind of get addicted to it. However, now I am looking for the next able-bodied class I can participate in. That's what makes sailing so unique for people with disabilities; we can go out and race against able bodied people and be treated the same."

Does French have aspirations for the 2016 Paralympic Games? "I am taking a break right now. The SKUD was a reminder of how important open sailing was to me, so that's what I have been doing lately. I have been doing some beach cat sailing, and I have been checking out the J/70. What I need to do is take a look at the available options for me."

Rolex award ceremony video:

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

The Publisher

Mar 6, 2013, 3:47 PM

Post #2 of 8 (23867 views)
Re: [The Publisher] SKUD 18: MAYBE THE BOAT NEEDS A BETTER NAME [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From David Cook:
I totally agree with Jen French that the SKUD 18 is a very exciting boat. Five years ago I remember planing downwind at 14.8 knots in 20 odd knots of wind on Tampa Bay. Regarding the name, SKUD 18 is an acronym for SKiff Universal Design. The founder and visionary was Aussie Chris Mitchell, who then hired Julian Bethwaite to design what would become the doublehanded Paralympic boat.

Disabled sailors get a raw deal when it comes to opportunities to race against ABs (able-bodies). I have been disabled all my life, started open sailing and racing at the age of 18 but didn't start disabled sailing until I was 30 (now 54). At that time I thought I was too good and didn't want to rain on their parade, but I soon learned that disabled sailors are equals. One reason ABs don't want to get into a 'gimp' class is because their ego can't take getting beat by people who obviously have more of a disadvantage than themselves.

The SKUD18 is a fantastic sportboat and it probably costs a fraction of what the latest fad ones do. If you want to go fast, have fun, don't want to spend an arm and a leg and have some top notch competition, go buy a SKUD18 and race against some of the gimps.

The Publisher

Mar 6, 2013, 3:47 PM

Post #3 of 8 (23865 views)
Re: [The Publisher] SKUD 18: MAYBE THE BOAT NEEDS A BETTER NAME [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Tim Dempsey, SKUD 18 class president
As a follow-up to the report in Scuttlebutt 3787, the SKUD18 is eager to get more universal use, more able-bods sailing the boat. That is definitely what the Class wants to see.

It is an OPEN class. For IFDS and Paralympic competition, there are a range of restrictions in terms of disability classification and actions of the crew within the boat, but the class rules enable the boat to be sailed with two or three crew members and with a combination of centreline seating, sailors transferring to the gunwales or even using trapeze. The SKUD 18 is an incredibly versatile, easily managed two or three person sports boat.

To highlight this, the SKUDs were sailed in open configuration at Sail Melbourne and Sail Auckland in December and February with mixed crews. In Melbourne there were two boats with wheelchair users helming from canting centreline seats and their crews on trapeze racing against a SKUD with two sailors transferring gunwale to gunwale. In Auckland all three helms were using centreline seats with crews on the wire.

I was on the organising committee for Sail Auckland and from the outset we pushed for the SKUD to be sailed in open configuration. I sailed in the regatta with Stephanie Hazard who helmed for the New Zealand women's match racing team at the 2012 Olympics we did this to show how well the boat sails in an open format. Personally I think the SKUD should be sailed in this format at the Olympics then we would truly have an inclusive sporting event like no other. Compared to the Paralympic two on the centreline configuration, the performance is simply amazing.

The Class wants to encourage more sailors (with and without disabilities) to enjoy the SKUD 18 in its varied configurations. Class website:

The Publisher

Mar 6, 2013, 3:48 PM

Post #4 of 8 (23864 views)
Re: [The Publisher] SKUD 18: MAYBE THE BOAT NEEDS A BETTER NAME [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Chris Mitchell, SKUD 18 designer:
Thanks for your story about the SKUD 18 and its name. The boat is actually 5.9m long, or 19’6”, just enough to fit in a 20ft container. It's called an 18 to remind us that the hull below the water is pretty close to an 18ft skiff. Three SKUDs fit in a container.

When I just Googled “definition of SKUD” it came up with this below...
“a formation of vapoury clouds driven fast by the wind”.

I think that’s a delightful comparison to our boat. I also remember back in 2005 when we first investigated the name that in a Scandinavian source it referred to the froth being blown along with waves, and a ship Skudding along before the waves. When that aligned with SK-Skiff and UD-Universal Design, we stopped looking for alternatives; thought it was perfect. Short and sharp and very descriptive. Internationally SKUD or scud has a nice meaning, whereas the urban dictionary seems to include a lot of contemporary American slang. But I suppose that’s what an “urban” dictionary is supposed to do.

The background on the boat's design, I paid Julian Bethwaite for a lines drawing, which was prepared by his associate Martin Billock of Argentina. I gave a very thorough brief on what was wanted, everything from beam, length, displacement, draft, ballast ratio, J measurement, mast height, rudder configuration, etc. I took the lines drawing, stretched it, modified the stern, and added things like the extension at the bow to lengthen the J measurement to reduce weather helm. The mast needed to be where it is to give as long a cockpit as possible so it could handle three crew on the side decks.

Although most yachting enthusiasts seem to want to call it a Bethwaite design, it is certainly ours. We have a lot of experience with boats of Universal design (at Access Dinghy Foundation,, and helping severely disabled people get into sailing. Julian actually didn’t see the boat till it was presented to the IFDS for selection at the trials in Singapore in November 2005.


Jun 4, 2013, 8:33 AM

Post #5 of 8 (22418 views)
Re: [The Publisher] SKUD 18: MAYBE THE BOAT NEEDS A BETTER NAME [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Unfortunately, the Skud 18 shares the same pronounciation as the Russian/Soviet developed
Scud Missile which has been a featured weapon of more recent Middle Eastern conflicts/wars.

Dave T

Jul 14, 2013, 10:12 AM

Post #6 of 8 (22195 views)
SKUD 18: MAYBE THE BOAT NEEDS A BETTER NAME [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

If the Skud wants more use, the rule requiring a female as part of the team should be eliminated.
I know this is an IFDS rule. I do not know if it is part of the Class Rules.
There has been 1 Male Skipper from the West Coast, Nick Scandone, and now another From San Diego who were forced to get female crew from the East Coast.
I was not allowed to sail with Nick, which would have made an all West Coast Team, because of this rule I call the "V-giny" rule.
Now a new skipper from SD has a female crew from the East Coast. Once again stopping an all West Coast team from forming.
The purpose of the V-giny rule was to get disabled women involved in sailing. It seems to not be working from my POV.
If women/girls want to sail they either will or wont. I think there would be many more Skud Teams if the skippers/owners were allowed to choose the crew they want.
Also the Skud and IFDS should allow electric seat controls for the High Level Disabilities.
It is pretty stupid to create a class for the VSD Sailors and then tell them they cannot use controls they have in their wheelchairs for everyday access.
If you want sailing to be a pure sport then lets eliminate all the dumb rules.

The Skud is also a very expensive boat like all the boats from Access. Even their plastic boats are way over priced.
I've talked to our local University Cal State Channel Islands about purchasing training boats to start a College level disabled sailing team. This may be the only way to get new people involved in disabled sailing
The costs associated with Disabled boats are ridiculous and prohibitive in getting fleets started in areas where there are none. The used boat market is nonexistent, which does not help either.

A lesson the Skud Class should learn from the 2.4Mr class is these boats are perceived in America as boats for disabled people.
Access Boats will need to partner with the US Class to do some real marketing. Something the US 2.4mR class does not due, even when requested.


Aug 13, 2019, 11:51 PM

Post #7 of 8 (1431 views)
Re: [The Publisher] SKUD 18: MAYBE THE BOAT NEEDS A BETTER NAME [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

I can confirm that the Skud 18 was a Chris Mitchell design, as I was involved in the CAD work of the initial design concept discussions with Bethwaite and an optional Aussie yacht designer.

I did a lot of CAD work that was required to convert the hull design into stations that included Chris's two-part deck design and printing the full-side stations that were then used to build the plug. The plug was totally built at the Access Dinghy factory and I often visited to see progress and offer a tiny bit of input.

The name was that was originally considered for the design was "Stealth", I'd even done designs for the sail logo based on the Stealth Fighter, but Chris decided against that 'weapon' type name in favour of Skud, which incorporation his love of 'universal design'.

The design was also originally 5.48m (18 foot) long but was increased by Chris as the plug was built as he liked the longer length that developed from the overlong foam planking. From then on, the design was developed as Chris felt it should.

When I first sailed a Skud, it was with three up and one person on a wire, so it was sailed very flat and fast with the Assy grabbing the wind and surfing down wave fronts. Heaps of fun.

Chris always wanted the Skud to be a Sports boat in which disabled sailors could compete in integrated (our favourite concept for disabled sailing) competitions and Paralympic (if selected) events.

Colin Johanson, C5-6 quad.


Aug 23, 2019, 9:36 PM

Post #8 of 8 (1308 views)
Re: [The Publisher] SKUD 18: MAYBE THE BOAT NEEDS A BETTER NAME [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

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