It is generally accepted in the National Twelves that development
goes in phases. These, phases are often mainly due to the thoughts
of one or two individuals rather than the Class as a whole. What
makes a new idea catch on ? Is it due to a boat having, that
idea and being successful ? As often as not, it has not been
the fastest design which has become popular. It must therefore
boil down to one thing: sex appeal !
This is the reason why many sailors feel a compulsive desire
for a boat or fitting which is not necessarily logically the
best. For instance is the Cheshire Cat a sexy looking boat ?
It is better with the transom cut down, to a nice curve (more
about that later) but the foredeck is a classic example of the
need for a fitting. Presented with a large domed area, the owner
feels an urge to put something at the top of the dome. A mast
ram is a good example of this, regardless of the fact that it
catches the jib, adds more windage and so on, it all breaks down
to, the t . . s and b . . s syndrome,. This is also the reason
for the full-width cutdown knees, minimum curved transoms and
pinched stems to name but three.
The design which is best exploiting these principles at the moment
is undoubtedly the Pipedream, hence the reason for its popularity
although it is probably no faster than any other Twelve. Most
designers probably think their boat is better, looking than anyone
else's; still everyone to his own taste. Daggerboards are clearly
a bona contentia within the Class at the moment; they also seem
to me the biggest phallic symbol since the original conception
of the 'Twelve. Could this therefore be the reason for
their greater acceptance by the younger members of the fleet
(particularly when looking at the case from the outside) ?
There has been a long history of sex appeal in the Twelves, some
with lots and others rather less, from the full-chested Uffa-King,
to Little John and through to today. I have often wondered why
the Windfall was the shape it was and why the more careful members
of the Twelve fleet put their rudders away in tailor-made covers.
The more one looks into this, the more obvious it becomes; try
thinking of a few boat names. And where is the current trend
of development leading to? Your guess is as good as mine but
I do seem to remember a boat called Four-poster.