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A 'Tickling' Twelve

By Hugh Welbourn

When I started sailing a Twelve three years ago, my aspirations ran only to finishing in the top twenty at Burton Week — the idea of actually winning never occurred to me! However, the inspiration of Martin Jones was to result in a boat that would more than fulfil my ambitions.

My first Twelve was Warcry, a Proctor XII, and a season’s sailing at Hamble taught me a great deal about what makes Twelves tick. I still consider that, given a good blow, Warcry can be the fastest boat in windward that I know of, but her performance in light weather, for me at any rate, left everything to be desired.

With Martin Challis crewing for me, we finished tenth overall at Llandudno, having had two lucky runs. However, I felt that although I could considerably improve Warcry, I would prefer to try out my ideas on a new hull.

Martin Jones had by now been sailing Fantasia for two seasons, and in the light of this experience considered that he could improve on the Lucky Number design. Fortunately he needed little persuading to transfer his ideas to paper, and towards the end of the year he presented me with the lines and offsets of what was to become Mr. Jones.

The less said about building Mr. Jones the better, but it proved to be much easier than I had anticipated, even though I was working single-handed.

Mr. Jones first took to the water about six weeks before Weymouth, and what with the rudder falling off and a bent mast amongst other troubles, we only finished a few races before the championships.

However, to offset lack of experience with the boat, I had David Thomas’ ex-crew, Danny Hooker with me, and his experience was to prove invaluable during the week. We finished second overall by merely being consistent, and we were still learning to sail the boat in the last race! I was particularly pleased that Mr. Jones proved to be fast in light weather as we had about 21 stone on board, but with Danny one can’t relax for an instant!

Danny was unable to crew with me for the ‘68 season, so I once more teamed up with Martin Challis. Our combined weight was now 20 stone, and I was inspired by David Robinson’s example to fit a centre mainsheet.

This is a standard Proctor track with a three to one mainsheet purchase, but having had a block fall to pieces at Grafham 1 now consider a two to one purchase to be more than adequate for up to force 3 1/2. It gets a bit hard above that!
Sailing at Hamble revealed quite a few snags to be ironed out, but I was soon convinced that for a triangular course a centre mainsheet was the answer. The only other major change in the boat was the addition of Highfield levers on the shrouds, which contributed greatly to the light weather performance.

Two weeks before the Burton I started preparing the boat, and apart from a couple of days spent building and sailing a “World Champion Drumaran” my time was fully occupied by this chore. Martin and I had made out a two-page list of things that needed doing, and although I never got to the bottom of it, all the major items were attended to.

First job was to repaint the hull, rudder and centreboard with Graphspad and get the bottom as smooth and as fair as possible. Then with the hull right way up, every fitting was removed, checked, and replaced if doubtful. This work was well repaid by a week of trouble free sailing at Falmouth and boat speed was undoubtedly slightly improved.

Why was it though, that Mr. Jones had the edge over all the other boats during the week? Firstly, Martin Jones had produced a hull shape which is easily driven, has little wetted area, but has the power required to drive it in a breeze. It is an excellent all-round design that can carry weight if desired. Perhaps it is a little more demanding to sail than other, more conventional, boats but I have only capsized it twice in two season’s hard sailing, despite rumours to the contrary

The rig is conventional, with Banks Dacron sails hung on a ‘C’ section mast with limited swing spreaders. Halyard locks are fitted to main and jib, and there is an adjustable mast gate, which I consider to be absolutely essential. Thus the rig is basically very flexible, but its characteristics can be quickly altered to suit the conditions.

The gear in the boat is all simple, effective, and easily worked, and thus little time is wasted adjusting the rig. The only drawback to having everything adjustable is that one must sail continuously or one forgets exactly where things should be set, as I have found to my cost since Burton Week!

The high cambered foredeck has several advantages, apart from keeping water out of the boat it is easier for the crew to keep out of air flow from the jib, and this must help somewhat. The dished transom is merely to make the boat look less bulky!
Finally I have been extremely fortunate to have had two of the best crews around sailing with me. On the one hand Danny has the tremendous experience, whilst Martin is exceptionally quick about the boat. Both of them, however, are so dedicated that one has to work and concentrate hard to keep up with them!

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