As nearly typical as any member of the 5.5-meter class can be, Ernie Fay's former boat Sabre, designed by A. F. (Bill) Luders, measures 33 feet overall, 23 feet on the water, has a beam of 6 feet 6 inches and draws 4 feet 6 inches. Her mainsail and working jib (5.5s don't use genoas) spread a total area of 312 square feet and the largest of her spinnakers is close to 800 square feet. All these factors, along with her weight (which, like that of all 5.5s, remains a secret closely guarded by owners, designers and official measurers) and several other measurements, have been carefully balanced by her designer to produce a quotient of 5.5 meters under the formula governing the class design. Although different from the international rule controlling the America's Cup Twelves, the 5.5 formula still permits wide individual variation of design, making the designer an important man in 5.5 competition. Current top designer is Bill Luders, followed in the U.S. by C. Raymond Hunt, designer of the present Olympic champion Minotaur, and amateur Ernie Fay. Sweden's Einar Ohlson, Norway's Bjarne Aas and a number of talented Russians are the best designers overseas.
Because of the infinite care put into their building, 5.5s are by far the most highly priced racing yachts of their size. Hulls cost about $25,000, the designer's fee ranges between $1,500 and $2,000, tank testing of models can cost from $1,200 to $1,500, and a further $2,500 is necessary for sails. Because of lower labor costs, however, a good 5.5 hull built overseas, especially in Scandinavia, can be delivered in the U.S. for only $10,000.