The man who started it all: Charles Nicholson, Yacht designer and owner of the famous Camper & Nicholson boatyard, had initiated the new class and in 1949 presented the Prototype 5.5 K-1 "The Deb". Already in 1950 the IYRU acknowledged the International status of the Class as well as its Olympic future. In 1952 the first Olympic Sailing regattas in Helsinki where showing ample 5.5m participation. The 5.5's stayed Olympic Class until 1968 and a great number of famous designers, boatyards and helmsmen reconfirmed the importance of the Class for the International yacht racing scene.
In the UK the Aisher family has been most prominently involved with 5.5 racing, Owen Aisher presiding the 5.5m class over a long period, with Robin Aisher being secretary. Both have been actively sailing 5.5m boats, Robin Aisher & Crew represented the UK in the 1960, 1964 and 1968 Olympics, in the latter winning the Bronze Medal to which he added a number of front places in International 5.5m Championships.
The other big name has been R.S.G. Perry, who sailed the 1952 Helsinki races and won Silver in the 1956 Olympics in Australia. From his Arthur C. Robb designs, Owen Aisher initiated the GRP made Daring Class boats, which are today the most active 5.5 reminiscence in the UK, with a very actively racing fleet on the Solent.
After 1968, much of the racing attention turned to IOR Offshore regattas, where the Admirals Cup became the centerpoint of British sailing interest, also for the Aisher family and their numerous "Yeoman" boats.
Several of the British 5.5's were sold abroad and new 5.5m regatta life was only returning in the 1990's, with Jonathan Janson and Peter Andreae racing 5.5's Internationally.
The building of new boats on the Isle of Whight followed. Quite famous is the reversed bow 5.5 for Jonathan Janson, designed by Ian Howlett, built in the mid 90's. The latest British built boat is 5.5 BAH 20 "Silver Fox", a 2007 Doug Peterson / Ian Howlett design from Heritage Yachts, for the Bahamas fleet.
With the recent arrival of former NED 31, now racing as 5.5 GBR 40 "Notorious", International regattas will be seeing a British 5.5m boat joining the racing fleet. Another British boat is located in Stavanger, Norway, 5.5 GBR 51 "Aurora"
The Daring Class: http://www.daring.org.uk/