The 1979 Fastnet focused attention upon yacht capsizes and resulting damage and loss of life.

A classical stability analysis does not clearly reveal some of the characteristics of the modern racing yacht which may exacerbate a capsizing tendency. A review of the mechanism of a single-wave-impact capsize reveals inadequacies in static methods of stability analysis and hints at a connection between recent design trends and an increased frequency of capsize.

The paper traces recent design trends, relates these to capsizing by a description of the dynamic mechanism of breaking wave impact, and outlines the unusual oceanography of the 1979 Fastnet which led to a heightened incidence of capsize.

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