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Julian Bethwaite (born 14 July 1957) is an Australian, Sydney-based skiff sailor and sailboat designer.[1][2][3][4] He wrote one chapter of his father Frank's book, Higher Performance Sailing.[5]

Julian Bethwaite
Born (1957-07-14) 14 July 1957 (age 61)
OccupationYacht designer
Bethwaite Design
Years active1971–present
Spouse(s)Deidre Bethwaite
Parent(s)Frank Bethwaite
Nel Bethwaite
RelativesChristine Bethwaite (sister)
Mark Bethwaite (brother)
Nicky Bethwaite (sister)
Harry Bethwaite (son)


Skiff sailingEdit

Bethwaite started sailing 18ft skiffs in 1974 crewing on KB, before moving on to the boats 9Sports, Singapore Airline, and Mutual Acceptance. Bethwaite won his first 18ft Skiff World Championship as crew in 1987 and again as skipper in 1990 and 1992. He held several positions relating to the 18ft class, including secretary of NSW 18ft Skiff Sailing League, manager of the Super Skiff Series, and Skiff Grand Prix. At this time, Grand Prix Sailing was covered on TV. Internationally, his partnership with Alex Gad developed media driven sailing events throughout Europe, the U.S., and Mexico that resulted in three Sport-Tel awards.[citation needed]

Sailboat DesignsEdit

In 1980 based on a stretched Tasar Dinghy hull, he designed the first of the trilogy of Prime Computer 18ft skiffs. It had a crew of two rather than the usual three which made sailing the boat difficult when handling the spinnaker pole and its complex wire bracing. It was this complexity that made Bethwaite design the Prime Mk2 with a fixed bowsprit and asymmetric spinnaker. To keep the weight down, the hull was made of balsa wood and weighed just 130 pounds (60kgs).

Prime Mk3 was also made of balsa wood, had a wingspan of 26ft, and weighed just 99 pounds (45kgs). This was later used to make a plug for the standardized B18 class.

In 1994, Bethwaite designed the 49er which was a new high performance skiff.[6] In 1996, it was one of 15 entries considered by the ISAF selection competition for the upcoming 2000 Sydney Olympics. [7] The Olympic committee selected the 49er.[8][9][10] From the 2000 Olympics and onwards, the 49er sailed with county flag designs covering the entire spinnaker, making it clear which boat was which.[11]

In 1998, the smaller 29er was designed for the international youth market.[12] The 29er has been given International Class status[13] In 2004, he worked with Martin Billoch and Chris Mitchell to design the SKUD 18, a ballasted skiff for disabled sailors.[14] From 2008 through 2016 this boat has been raced at the Paralympic Games.[15]

In 2012, ISAF held trials for a women's high performance boat to race at the Olympics. Bethwaite submitted the 29erXX, a souped up 29er with bigger sails. Although this boat lost out, the winning entry, the 49erFX from Mackay Boats (which developed a new mast and suit of sails) does feature Bethwaite's 49er hull.[16]

List of DesignsEdit

  • 1978 assisted Ian Bruce and his father, Frank, with the design of the Laser 2.
  • 1980 started skiff designs that included three two-handed Prime Computers designs that pioneered the asymmetric spinnaker system.[17]
  • 1987 designed the B14 skiff.
  • 1988 designed the B18 skiff, a consumerised Prime Mk3.
  • 1994, designed the 49er skiff.
  • 1998 designed the 29er youth skiff trainer.
  • 2005 collaborated with Martin Billoch and Chris Mitchell to design the SKUD 18.


National ChampionshipsEdit

  • 1st Cherub Australian Championships 1975
  • 1st Tasar Australian Championships 1977-8
  • 1st Euro 18ft skiff Championships 1992
  • 1st B14 Australian Championships 1992
  • 2002 – 2015 designed Trilogy, a 32ft (11m) trimaran that won 9 OMR (Australian Multihull Regattas).

World ChampionshipsEdit

  • 1st Cherub World Championships (crew) 1976
  • 1st 18ft Skiff World Championships (crew) 1986 Entrad
  • 1st Grand Prix Champion (crew) 1987 Goodman Fielder
  • 1st 18ft Skiff World Championships 1990  AAMI
  • 1st Grand Prix Champion 1990  AAMI
  • 1st 18ft Skiff World Championships 1992   AAMI
  • 1st Grand Prix Champion 1993  AAMI


  1. ^ "Interview with legendary skiff sailor Julian Bethwaite +Video".
  2. ^ "29er".
  3. ^ "49er".
  4. ^ "The Men's 49er - A History Lesson."
  5. ^ Frank., Bethwaite, (2008). Higher performance sailing. London: Adlard Coles Nautical. ISBN 9781408101261. OCLC 854680844.
  6. ^ "About the 49er".
  7. ^ "INTERNSHIP REPORT : 49er performance enhancement" (PDF). Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Scuttlebutt News: Interview with Julian Bethwaite".
  9. ^ "One Design Class Profile: 49er - Sail1Design". 15 December 2017.
  10. ^ "London 2012 Olympics: 49er Class Racing - Yachts and Yachting". 14 June 2012.
  11. ^ "BBC SPORT - ROWING AND WATER SPORTS - Sailing into a new era".
  12. ^ "29ers - A High Performance Skiff For Ordinary Mortals" (PDF). Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  13. ^ "49er And 29er Worlds At Sorrento".
  14. ^ " - SKUD 18 Sailboat". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  15. ^ "SKUD18 - International Hansa Class Association". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  16. ^ Pawson, Gael. "An Olympic Skiff for women: the six contenders -". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Mastering the A sail".
  18. ^ "Mosman Sporting Wall of Fame".
  19. ^ "Allen Keyball Trapeze System - Allen Performance Sailboat Hardware".