National 12 - find out more...


Hi! Whilst sitting out on a little known planet on the western spiral arm of the galaxy I was consulting the Hitchhiker's Guide, when a very strange thing happened. My finger slipped whilst looking for the recipe for Gate's Tart, a well known dish served at Milliways. This Tart is famous for its superb taste and also because it is guaranteed to rejuvenate the taste buds after 111 pangalacticgargleblasters (or 10 pints of Adnams).

It appeared that the Gate's Tart was once a method of starting yacht races where the yachts were sailed by apes! These dumb apemen (and women) from Earth could start yacht races on the sea in large numbers without constantly mistiming their run into the line causing general recalls. To speed up the whole process, the Gate Start was invented, a method so simple that even a mud splatter beast tray could get off to a start before deciding to eat a crew.

But, can you believe it, the apemen still couldn't get it right, even in one of the best classes, the National Twelve, famous across the galaxy as the most exciting Twelve footer. The guide says "the apecreatures failed to realise that to a good start discipline was required. They insisted on reaching down from too high upwind. Even if they missed the guard boat, and any other competitor or gate boat they made so much leeway that boats starting behind them made better starts anyway.

It all began to get out of hand and in the National Twelve, (by the way the apes spent an amazing amount of time and effort designing and building boats that were completely different shapes, but which all went at the same speed) and in 1989 it all got a little out of hand. Holttum became upset, the principal god spoke out at the annual gathering of the National Twelve apes. He lamented long regarding the boring bashing and ill discipline. These low level life forms had difficulty in understanding the slow approach from the leeward end of the line of the pathfinder. When Zaphod Beeblebrox beamed into Llandudno to take part in the best cultural event happening in the universe, the 1990 Burton Week, with his girlfriend Trillian (an eight stone athlete with the body of a goddess, and the tactical genius of Debbie Jarvis), he quickly discarded the delights of' 15 pints of real ale; and the facts that the after effects were only slightly worse than those of the pangalacticgargleblasters.

Trillian quickly sussed out two things:
1. If you wanted to win the most prestigious trophy you had to be married.
2. If you were not married you have to make do with the Burton Cup.

Zaphod's starts were perfect. After deciding where he wanted to start he would sail well to leeward of the track of the pathfinder. There he would wait, both hearts pumping, both heads convincing him to keep calm. He imagined that the gate boat was a port tack yacht that he wanted to shave by the stern. By lining up slowly and closing the gap while never bearing off, but holding .a close hauled course, he managed the perfect approach. Trillian kept an eye on windward boats and warned any stupid apes to windward who started to bear off, to keep clear. If any did reach down Zaphod's non-hangover head would yell to frighten off this risk, and they invariably screwed up their start. Zaphod therefore always shot off into an early lead The apes were so humiliated by losing all their silverware.and the fact that Zaphod pawned it all for a night with Trillian, that they gave up reaching into gate starts for ever.
By the way - the god - a fantastically powerful ape that sat in the boat all day long whilst other apes chased each other around orange plastic objects filled with air- well, when he was satisfied, a cannon was fired and all the boats sailed past the god.

Slarti Bartfast  

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