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International Six Metre Class launches ground-breaking online archive

by Fiona Brown 3 Oct 2019 20:24 BST
Ground-breaking online archive by International Six Metre Class © 6metrearchive.org

The International Six Metre Class Association (ISMA) is delighted to announce the launch of a ground breaking online class archive at 6metrearchive.org.

The Six Metre Class has a long and illustrious history dating back to the introduction of the International Rule in 1907. That history encompasses inclusion in nine Olympic Games from 1908 to 1952, the heyday of the class in the 1920s and 30s when it was perhaps the largest and strongest class in the world and acting as a trial platform for 12 Metre America's Cup developments from the late 1950s until the late 1980s. Even the very latest Six Metres continue to push the technical development envelope, and a review of Six Metre designs gives a fascinating insight into some of yacht racing's most radical and important developments.

Recognising that they are the custodians of, and therefore responsible for, a great deal of valuable yachting history, the ISMA members agreed to develop a project to help celebrate and improve access to their heritage. Being an international class, the archive material documenting this rich history is spread all over the world and can be difficult to find. Some is also potentially vulnerable to becoming lost, damaged or forgotten.

In response to these concerns, work was begun at the beginning of 2018 to create the International Six Metre Online Archive. The class has now developed a brand-new website to gather together and digitally preserve these materials.

6metrearchive.org aims to a) locate and digitise the existing archives, b) bring the material together as one resource, c) make it accessible online to all and d) continue to update the archive long term to ensure it remains a current and viable resource.

Creating an accessible and comprehensive online archive requires significant financial investment and specialist technical expertise.

The new site has been funded entirely by generous donations from individuals and further donations are sought to help continue the work. Anyone interested in helping to fund the project should contact ISMA Executive Secretary Tim Russell on .

For the archive project to succeed a heritage professional was needed and in Jenny Wittamore the class found the perfect candidate. A professional freelance curator and maritime collections specialist, Jenny has extensive experience in the field including eleven years as a Curator at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall.

Delivering a website that meets the complex technical needs of the project and is accessible to all also required specialist professionals. The team at Thirty8 Digital works with museums of all sizes across the UK, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Government Art Collection, Jewish Museum and the Wellcome Collection, and brings the perfect combination of technical ability and design flair. 6metrearchive.org is designed to be fresh, clear and easy to navigate, both for people with a casual interest and serious researchers.

With the foundations in place the hard work of finding and collating material has now begun. Already Jenny has been in contact with hundreds of Six Metre owners, sailors, enthusiasts, designers and boat builders who have submitted materials for inclusion in the archive. Profiles are being developed for each of the boats - more than 1200 in total - and there are sections dedicated to race results, digitised archives, general class history and stories of the Sixes, all meticulously cross referenced and linked.

But this is an ongoing project and community collaboration will be the key to its further development and success. The more people that use the archive site and add their material and knowledge, the better it will be.

We would encourage anyone familiar with the Six Metre fleet to visit 6metrearchive.org, and anyone with Six Metre documents, photographs, results, publications or stories is asked to submit them. Enquiries, corrections and constructive criticisms are also very much welcomed. All enquiries should be directed to ISMA Archivist Jenny Wittamore on .

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