The H Class Association Rules

Accepted April 12, 2008, November 19, 2011, and June 1, 2019

Revisions to Sails and Rigging made Spring of 2020.
Revision to Sails and Rigging made Spring of 2022 to allow anti-collision mainsail window. Updates are noted in italics.

The most current H Class Rules are posted below. View archived rules here.

The spirit of the H Class Association, based on Nathanael Herreshoff’s 1914 design, and launched in a fiberglass version by Doughdish, Inc. in 1973, was to produce a boat equally suitable for learning to sail, day sailing, and competitive racing by people of all ages and abilities. These rules seek to maintain the spirit of the original design while allowing the incorporation of new materials and construction methods. All boats must be eligible under the provisions of Article I of the H Class Association.

The purpose of these rules is to maintain the one-design integrity of the H Class that results in lasting value and fair racing, while allowing minor changes in structure, gear, and equipment as new materials and construction methods become available. Over the 35 years the H Class Association has existed, new gear, new sail cuts, and much improved cordage have come into use. Substituting modern gear for the traditional gear, if it allows for increased efficiency and enjoyment of sailing, is permissible. The list of approved rigging and equipment at the end of these Rules, which is not meant to be all-inclusive, is designed to give owners guidance as to what is permissible.

Boats not in compliance with these amended 2019 rules are subject to disqualification from racing in H Class events. Owners wishing to incorporate gear or changes not allowed under the present rules are advised to present their proposals to the Executive Committee for approval prior to January for the remainder of the racing year.


No flotation is required. However, adequate flotation is strongly recommended. A minimum of 15 cu.ft. of Styrofoam® or equivalent closed multicellular foam between 1.0 and 4.0 lbs. per cu. ft. density should be placed in the forepeak of the boat so that it will not come adrift in the event of a swamping.

Safety Equipment and Gear

One approved life preserver for each person on the boat must be carried in an accessible location. Also required are: one hand-operated pump, one bucket or bailer, one oar with oarlock, one yachtsman anchor of 12 lbs. minimum weight or a Danforth® anchor not less than 4 lbs., with a suitable anchor rope of approximately 60′ length attached thereto.

It is permitted to use aids to navigation such as charts, compasses, and timepieces. No other aids are permitted while racing, including GPS devices. Race Committee may use VHF radios to communicate with the racers.

Hull and Rudder Alterations

Not permitted: Any form of fairing between the keel, deadwood, and rudder, except for a rudder-keel gap protector at the bottom of the rudder designed to prevent lines from getting caught in the gap. Also not permitted is any change in the size, shape, cross section, or construction of either fiberglass or wooden rudders.

Spars and Tiller

Spars shall be made of wood and be of round, oval, or rectangular section. Hollow spars, booms, and gaffs of abnormal design, i.e., plank on edge, grooved Park Avenue, or mechanically stressed or bowed spars are not allowed. Spars should conform to the specifications herein stated. When spars exceed the standard lengths, sails shall not in any case exceed the measured limitations in these rules.

Gaff and boom measurements are made with boom attached to mast at proper height and resting in boom crutch with gaff resting on top of boom, and are taken from the aft side of mast to outboard end of spar.

Standard lengths:

Boom 12′ 0″
Gaff 9′ 0″
Jib Club 4′ 8″
Spinnaker Pole 6′ 8″ tip to tip including fittings

16′ 3″ top of tenon to top of mast

Note: The boom gooseneck shall be located 3′ 3-1/4″ from the top of the tenon and shall not be movable.

Tiller Maximum length of the tiller shall be 48″ from the inside of the transom to the inboard end of the tiller measured along top of tiller. No permanent or temporary extensions are allowed.

Sails and Rigging

The luff of the mainsail shall be attached at the throat only to the gaff and to the mast using five mast hoops or five slides on an external luff track and to the boom at the gooseneck. Any device other than halyards to control the tension of the luff is prohibited.

External Type track and slides with outhaul fittings may be carried on the gaff, boom, and jib club. The head and foot of the mainsail and the foot of the jib shall be attached to the gaff, boom, and jib club respectively by slides or a continuous lace line at locations no more than 18” apart with approximately equal spacing. If a lace line is used, its length must be adjusted in relation to the outhaul so that both the lace line and outhaul have at least some tension (i.e.: no slack in either) whenever the sail is trimmed and drawing.

The mainsheet rig shall have three single blocks, as follows: one single block affixed to the boom at a point directly above the upper edge of the transom (the “boom block”), one single block that slides along a traveler mounted on the forward face of the transom (the “traveler block”) , and one more single block that has a swiveling attachment to the transom at a point that’s below the traveler (the “transom block”). The fixed end of the mainsheet is fastened to the boom at or near its after end. From there, it passes forward through the traveler block, then upward through the boom block, then downward through the transom block, and then forward to either a cleat or winch mounted midships near the forward edge of the after deck.

The throat halyard rig shall consist of two single blocks, one of which has a becket. This “becket block” shall be attached to the after side of the mast at a point approximately mid-way between the masthead and the throat of the fully hoisted mainsail, and the other block shall be flexibly connected to the jaws of the gaff with a swinging metal toggle that is approximately 3 ¾” in overall length. The upper end of the throat halyard shall either be spliced or tied to the becket of the mast-affixed becket block. From this attachment point, the throat halyard shall be routed downward through the jaw-attached block, then upward through the becket block, and then downward to a cleat mounted on the forward bulkhead. (NOTE: In lieu of traditional wooden jaws, the forward end of the gaff may instead have a metal “sliding throat fitting” that provides an equivalent vertically sliding and laterally-constrained swiveling connection against the after surface of the mast.)

The peak halyard may have either of two rigging arrangements, a Herreshoff “original arrangement” in which the after end of the gaff is supported in two places, or a more recent “recommended arrangement” in which the gaff is supported in three places. In both arrangements, the aftermost third of the gaff is fitted with a permanently attached 1/8” wire bridle and a single block with a saddle that provides a sliding connection between this “bridle block” and the wire. In the recommended arrangement, the fixed end of the peak halyard is either spliced or tied to the after end of the gaff. From there, the halyard passes through a single block affixed to the masthead (the “upper masthead block”), then through the bridle block, then through a second single block affixed near the top of the mast (the “lower masthead block”), and then downward to a cleat affixed to the forward bulkhead. In the alternative “original arrangement”, the fixed end of the peak halyard is attached instead to an eye at the masthead (in lieu of the “upper masthead block”), and from this attachment point the halyard passes through the bridle block, then through the “lower masthead block” and then down to the forward bulkhead cleat. Either arrangement is acceptable under these rules.

The jib halyard rig has one single block mounted on the forward side of the mast and close below the masthead attachment point for the forestay.

The jib sheet rig may have either of two arrangements, and either is acceptable under these rules. Herreshoff’s original design was a “single ended arrangement” in which only one end of the sheet leads aft into the cockpit (where it is cleated and can be tended from that one side only). Subsequently, this was superseded by a “double ended arrangement” where both ends lead back into the cockpit and where they are cleated on opposite sides so that the jib may be trimmed from either side. In both arrangements. a single block (the “jib club block”) is affixed directly to the bottom side of the club at a point 50” (+/- 1”) aft of the pivot point at club’s forward end (for further details, see Note 1, below). The jib sheet passes transversely through this jib club block, leading to a pair of fixed “foredeck mounting points” that are symmetrically located near the gunwales and on opposite sides of the foredeck (see Note 2, below). In the “double ended arrangement” (recommended), a single turning block is mounted at each of the two foredeck points and the sheet ends lead aft from these blocks toward the opposite sides of the cockpit. In the “single-ended arrangement”, one end of the jib sheet is fastened to one of the foredeck points, the other end of the sheet passes through a turning block at the opposite foredeck point and then leads aft toward the cockpit on that one side only.

Note 1: On most newer boats, the jib club block is attached with an eye strap that’s screwed to the bottom of the club. But originally the Herreshoff Company used other attachment hardware, i.e. a U-shaped metal strap that held the eye of the block and was fastened to the club by a transverse metal rivet. Any such mechanical connection method will be acceptable under these rules provided that the resulting distance between the bottom of the club and the top of the sheave is not more than 3”.

Note 2: The longitudinal position of these foredeck mounting points is in approximately the same transverse vertical plane as that of the jib club block, and this enables the transverse portion of the jib sheet also to serve as a traveler.

Any form of winches, cleats, cam-cleats, leads, and their locations are allowed for sail control. Running rigging may be of any fiber so long as the diameter is 3/16″ (5 mm) or greater. Tracks and cars for the spinnaker pole are not permitted; however such existing gear may be retained or replaced. Owners with such gear may comply with these Rules while racing by raising the inboard end of the spinnaker pole to a black band painted on the mast three inches above the gooseneck of the main boom, or in the absence of a black band, no higher than the gooseneck itself.

Sails shall consist of mainsail, jib, and spinnaker (single luff, parachute, and radial permitted)5. No sail shall be pulled out beyond the standard spar length, nor shall the luff of the mainsail be extended to exceed 9′ 2″ from top of the boom at the tack to the center of the throat cringle or ring1.

Sail dimensions shall be measured from points of lines representing the extension of the edges at each corner, i.e., from apex to apex, and with the sail laid out on a floor or other flat surface. When measuring the length of an outer edge (luff, foot, head, or leech), that edge shall be held under tension by pulling in opposing directions from the cringles at each end of the measured edge, and with no tension simultaneously applied to any other part of the sail. For each such measurement, the applied tension shall be 12 plus or minus 1 pounds.

When measuring the diagonal in the mainsail, tension shall be applied between the clew and throat and no tension shall be applied elsewhere. The tension applied here shall be sufficient only to flatten any wrinkles along this line of measurement.

When measuring the foot curve of the main or jib, the sail shall be laid flat with 3 to 5 pounds of tension applied between clew and tack, and no tension shall be applied elsewhere. Then, a straight reference line shall be established between the intersection points at the clew and tack, and the measurement(s) to be made shall be the perpendicular distance between this reference line and the foot of the sail. At the location where each such measurement is made, any remaining curling or wrinkles in the sail shall be flattened out by pressing straight down with two hands. The mainsail foot curve shall not exceed 3” and the jib foot curve shall not exceed 1.5 inches.

Similarly, the mainsail leech curve shall be measured with 3 to 5 pounds of tension applied between the head and the clew, with no tension applied elsewhere, and with a straight reference line established between the intersection points at the head and the clew. The leech curve measurement shall be the perpendicular distance between this reference line and the leech of the sail. At the location where each such measurement is made, any curling or wrinkles in the sail shall be flattened out by pressing straight down with two hands. If the shape of the leech is convex (with all or some portion of the leech lying outside the reference line), no portion of the leech may extend more than 1 inch beyond the reference line. For a sail that has a “hollow” (concave) leech, there shall be no corresponding limitation.

Sail dimensions shall not exceed the following maximums: 


Luff 9′ 0″
Foot 11′ 9″
Head 8′ 10″
Leech 17′ 6″
Diagonal throat to clew 13′ 6″

Foot curve


Leech curve (if convex)                                                                                                                                                          1″

A row of reef points may be carried in the mainsail, not less than 22 inches above the foot of the sail.


Luff 12′ 4″
Leech 10′ 7″

4′ 7″

      Foot curve                                                                                                                           1.5″

FOOT CURVE EXEMPTION: A jib having a foot curve that exceeds the 1.5” maximum dimension may be used, BUT ONLY if it was purchased before January 1, 2020 AND either: a) its foot is directly fastened to the jib club with track and slides, or b) its lace line is fastened with sufficient tension so that direct contact is maintained between the foot of this sail and the top surface of the jib club along the entire length of the foot. This exemption shall be in effect during the years 2020 – 2024 but not thereafter.


Luffs and leeches stretched under five lbs. tension only. Foot stretched only a sufficient amount to remove wrinkles across the line of measurement from tack (clew) to clew.
Parachute type: luffs 14′ 6″
foot 9′ 6″
Single luff type: luff 14′ 6″
leech 14′ 6″


foot 9′ 6″

All sails shall be made of woven fabric. Mainsails and jibs shall be made of Dacron® or similar woven polyester material of minimum weight of four ounces per sailmakers’ yard (28.5″ x 36″), and the material shall not be coated, such as yarn tempered material. However, the mainsail may have one anti-collision window made of flexible transparent vinyl or other non-woven polymer material. The window may be no greater than 288 Sq. in. and may have seams pass through it.

No battens are permitted in any sails.

Spinnakers shall be made of woven material, coated or not coated, with a minimum weight of 0.5 ounces per yard.

Strengthening reinforcements of sails to promote the integrity of the sail shall be of woven material only and shall not extend beyond 24″ from the reefing or outside corners, and shall not be arranged or stitched in a manner solely for the purpose of stiffening.

Not permitted: laminated sail material, film, two or more plys, Mylars®, Kevlar®, or other similar variations of material.

Note: Any person attempting to create a sail of any type or material which brings the intent of the foregoing Class Rules into question shall first submit a proposal to the H Class Executive Committee requesting an interpretation and approval before its creation or use by a member of the Class.

Diamond-cut, cross-cut, and radial-cut sails are permitted.


The insignia for the class shall be an H, no less than eight inches high, which may be sewn onto the mainsail at the option of the owner.

Ballast and Weight Limit

No additional fixed or movable ballast is permitted. The total weight of the crew shall not exceed 500 pounds, and a crew shall be not less than two persons.

Any use of a trapeze or other devices for hiking out is not permitted.

No crew member shall, for ballasting purposes, position themselves to place body weight on top of, or outboard of, the cockpit coaming, except in order to perform temporary, emergency duties of a sail- or boat-handling nature, such as retrieval of lines or gear which have come adrift.

Permitted Rigging and Equipment

Quissett blocks for jib and spinnaker sheets2

Dual spinnaker halyard cleats

Spinnaker halyard with one shackle (not shackled at both ends)

Dual Spinnaker halyards

Spinnaker pole material other than wood (an exception to the above rule regarding wooden spars and booms)

Spinnaker pole topping lift

Attachment of hardware at center of spinnaker pole for topping lift and foreguy

Twings for adjusting spinnaker sheet and guy

Second set of oarlocks for Quissett blocks to control both spinnaker and jib sheets3

Double-ended jib sheets, cleated both port and starboard

Jib Sheets led through holes in the coaming

Adjustable clew outhaul for mainsail

Non-standard clew outhaul at end of the boom

Non-standard outhaul at the peak of the gaff

Mast wrapped in protective fiberglass in the way of way of hoisted gaff

Wind direction vane at the top of the mast

Installation of bilge pump other than hand-held (but not to be used while racing4)

1. The Spring 2019 vote stipulates that crew may use a spar (such as a boom crutch), that is no longer than a spinnaker pole, to hold out a jib sheet while sailing downwind.
2. A Quissett block is a swiveling cam-cleat mounted on a plate which is temporarily mounted in the oarlocks on the port and starboard coaming.
3. Allowed but not recommended.
4. The Spring 2019 vote upholds this rule: electric bilge pumps are not permitted while racing.



Beverly Yacht Club


edgartown yacht club



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