The story of the Windmill begins soon after Clark Mills designed the popular Optimist Pram. In response to a demand for a boat to bridge the gap between the Pram and the Olympic racing classes, Mills designed the Windmill in 1953. She was conceived as a performance boat that could be constructed very inexpensively by amateur builders, such as a father and son project, without professional tools. The result was a lightweight displacement planing hull, a novelty at the time, coupled with a high aspect ratio daggerboard, that performed beyond the designer's goals. Its appeal soon spread from Florida and by the mid-60's over 500 'Mills were sailing in 42 states, Canada, and Finland.
There were doubters of this upstart boat which claimed high-performance from home construction, especially one that did not have a spinnaker or trapeze. These doubts were well dispelled in 1963, when Yachting magazine sponsored a One-of-a-Kind regatta in which every one-design class was invited to compete under a simple handicap formula covering length, sail area, etc. Held in Miami in 26 plus knot winds, 'Mill skipper Dave Posey finished 3rd in the non-trapeze center-board class, bested only by the 3-man Thistle and Olympic Finn!
In 1966 the event was repeated, this time Ron Krippendorf finished 1st over 32 other one-design boats in the non-spinnaker class. The 'Mill had come of age-but the best was yet to come.
To the surprise of many, (because the 'Mill has no foredeck), she is an outstanding specialist in heavy weather sailing. This fact was brought forcefully home in 1967, when Yachting sponsored the Heavy Weather One-of-a-Kind Regatta on San Francisco Bay. The ground rule was no racing unless the wind was at least 25 knots. Incredibly, in winds gusting to 40 knots, the Windmill, skillfully skippered by Ray Drew, slogged through high seas, dodging capsized and dismasted competitors, and won the regatta!
Just to prove this was no fluke, Denis Fontaine again topped the best centerboard, non-trapeze contestants to take another first in the 1977 One-of-a-Kind Regatta.
The last two times the Windmill was raced in this regatta, Dave Ellis finished third in 1982 and fourth in 1985, in a now 30 year old design, proving that three decades had not diminished this fast sloop's reputation. Some would argue the fastest one-design for the price and a boat that is really fun to sail. There is no argument that she is the only high-performance one-design that can be home-built.
With a sharp forebody and an after planning section, the boat goes on a plane in about a ten knot breeze. Only those who have experienced the exhilaration of a screaming plane can truly understand the expression. Windmill sailors understand!
Thus from her introduction by a thoughtful designer bent on capturing the interest and enthusiasm of young sailors, the Windmill has grown to be accepted by sailors of all ages as an exciting boat, equally desirable for inland or coastal sailing in light or heavy winds.