Some months ago I wrote to a number of people in the Class
asking them how they saw the future of Twelves and how they thought
we should develop. While requesting short replies I indicated
that I would be prepared to print longer pieces, hence the two
articles by Robert Peebles and John Sears at the end. Although
only a few people took the trouble to put their thoughts to paper
(and I am especially grateful to them) the answers are certainly
controversial and reflect the many different attitudes people
have to Twelve development. I would like to repeat this section
in future Newsletters so if you want to agree or disagree with
the comments here, or feel a need to air your own ideas, I would
be pleased to print them. (Don't leave it till later, write now).
l. Throw away the double curvature rule which is an anachronism
in these days of G.R.P. boats, is impractical from the measurer's
angle and which we don't bother about anyway or why don't we
check it daily at Burton Week ?
2. Round the sail area up to nine square metres and delete all
present restrictions on battens and masts.
3. Throw away that section in the rules marked "Disposition
of Buoyancy", so I could fill my bags with polyurethane
foam and know that the boat thereafter would be safe without
my spending, a fortune in replacements.
4. Remove all reference to weight in the rules because it would
save so much bleating about not being able to get down to the
minimum because weight does not mean strength, because boats
are such rotten things to weigh and because nobody, repeat nobody,
has an accurate weighing machine.
We have recently had enough changes in construction rules
and should now concentrate on expanding the Class which is best
done by improving racing at club level. This attracts newcomers
better than boat shows and advertisements. We cannot have regular
Club racing if the best half or more of the, average club's small
fleet of six is away at open meetings most weekends. I suggest
therefore that for the next four years the weekend open meetings
are halved by asking each club, in co-operation with its neighbours,
to hold open meetings only in alternate years.
1. We should not allow less than two planks per side.
2. We should not reduce weight below the present agreed limits.
3. We should encourage experiments with sail cut and plans within
existing limits and possibly rewrite the rule to allow a genuine
maximum measured area, e.g. measure the real rather than. the
nominal area. far a 65 : 25 rig and then allow that area in any
proportions. This would allow a bigger jib for those now using
60 : 30 rigs.
My feeling is that we need a period of consolidation without
too many major developments, but if we do contemplate changes
1. Limit the maximum beam to about two metres and allow a small
increase in sail area, say 2 sq, m, to give the heavier crews
slightly more advantage over the lightweights.
2. Remove the hull construction limitations to allow any form
of construction. This essentially means removal of the double
curvature rule. How many more rules would need changing before
a Firefly hull will measure ? This would certainly make a useful
addition to many club fleets and with a National Twelve rig it
could be surprisingly competitive.
To retain our prosperity we must expand our membership and
accelerate the number of boats built. Barry has suggested 200
new boats a year by 1981 which I personally think optimistic.
I prefer to consider a gradual growth of 10-20 extra a year for
7-10 years to be a more realistic target. This should be quite
possible but would involve a rethink of our PR operation to produce
a real "new image" impact on the general world. A really
hard sell would involve attack through magazines, news sheets,
teach-ins, local papers and the Newsletter and would obviously
involve a vastly increased budget and a concerted programme with
objectives and cost /efficiency targets built in. Points covered
could include a serious attack on boat costs (which means labour
charges which represent 40% of total cost), encouragement of
junior programmes and possibly rule changes to make the boat
more exciting and appealing to a wider range of people.
Weight reduction, loose-footed mains, daggerboards, one plank
boats--quite a lot for us dedicated Twelve circuit crowd to absorb,
but what about the club sailor ? He forms the backbone of the
Class as we can only have open meetings where there is an active
home fleet. Sadly we have recently lost Cheddar and Snettisham
Beach and my home club, Rutland, is struggling to establish a
home fleet. It would be tragic if we last Rutland Open Meeting.
I do not wish the exciting developments to be unduly restricted
and I think the one-planker is a most attractive and desirable
boat; what a pity it did not appear a couple of years later when
I feel the average club sailor would be more receptive to further
change. Is it not time that we had a short period of stability
to concentrate on boosting our racing and encouraging the club
The Class still requires simplification of the rules while
retaining the same appearance in its boats. I'm very much in
favour of the cold-moulded varnished hull construction and believe
the double curvature rule should be dropped. Hull design will
follow the lead taken by Bouncer with more and more emphasis
on downwind performance. The rise and fall of the daggerboard
has started people thinking and in future, I think we will see
conventional centreboards but far short of maximum permitted
length, making the boat easier to hold up and giving a smaller
platecase containing less. water. Finally, I believe the National
Twelve can lead the dinghy world by taking the mast/mainsail
combination out of the reaches of artistic license and into a
precise science to develop the perfect shape for sails, not only
for Twelves, but for all other classes as well.