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Thinking of buying a National12

by David East

A paradox a ‘Restricted’ Class, yet a hotbed of development since its formation in 1936. It ought to be called a ‘Development’ or perhaps ‘Progressive’ Class, because this is what it really is. Sail area, weight, length, plank width, hull depth and rise of floor are restricted to discourage undesirable designs, but within the broad limitations of the rules you can build more or less what you like.

Steady improvement of hull shape and gear over the years has kept the class in the public eye and no-one could deny that the modern Twelve is an extremely beautiful boat. Quite naturally, the development of hull shape tended to out-date the earlier boats, as far as sea racing was concerned, but there has, in the history of the Class, only been one occasion when a designer outdated all previous designs in one major breakthrough. This was Ian Proctor’s Mark 8, a hull more powerful than its contemporaries and able to make use of the additional drive provided by the Terylene sails introduced a year or two before. The Mark 8 won the Burton Cup in 1959 and swept the board in 1960. Since 1959, design progress has been made, but between 1962 and 1964 the Class reached a design plateau, similar to that currently existing in International 14s. Designers are now striving for better all-round performance, but although the latest shapes are very sophisticated there are several very well-proven types which provide top-class racing and which can be had at less than new cost.

If you wanted to buy a National 12 and are based on an estuary, you would do well to consider the following designs, not necessarily in the order mentioned: Proctor Mark 12, March Hare, Lucky Number, Proctor Mark 11a, Proctor Mark 14

The choice of one of the above pre-supposes a willingness to spend. say £140 to £180. It is generally best to buy a boat that has a reasonable racing record. It is very important to inspect boats in the company of an experienced National 12 ft. owner.

To sail, Nationals are thoroughbreds, which require delicate handling if they are to give their very best performance. Their windward ability is phenomenal for a twelve-foot boat and they will stand severe conditions of wind and sea. They are light to lift and transport and a girl can crew without excessive strain.

There are open meetings all the year round in all parts of the country. The championships attract around 150 boats and there are many ‘weeks’ in which Nationals can take part. Notably North Norfolk Week, Salcombe Week and Bassenthwaite Week, each have 25 to 40 entries at least.

Glass-fibre is to be adopted as an alternative method of construction, but the clinker shape will remain and the rules will ensure that the glass boats have no advantage other than reduced maintenance. Transom flaps are being introduced in spring. 1968.

The Class has led the way in organising open meetings abroad and two series have taken place, one at La Baule and one at La Rochelle (each with approx. 50 entries). In 1968 the Class again visits Brittany for a week’s racing, at Whitsun.

The standard of racing in Nationals is extremely high, and such well-known helmsmen as Mike Jackson, Cliff Norbury, Mike Evans, John Oakeley, Barrie Perry, Keith Musto, Charles Currey, Alec Stone, Patrick Pym and Robin Steavenson, have spent much of their racing careers with the Twelves. Some of these big names now figure at the top of international competition in the Olympic Classes

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