National 12 - find out more...

Scottish Champs

Glassy calm to fierce and gusty; deep water to treacherous shallows… Solway YC’s annual Scottish round of the 2016 GUL Series had it all!
Ian Purkis/Ed Willett

The 2016 National 12 Scottish Championships were held at Solway Yacht Club located in the beautiful and picturesque village of Kippford on the northerly coast of the Solway Firth on the 17th and 18th September. This event was part of the National 12 GUL sponsored Travellers series for 2016 with prizes being awarded by the sponsor not only for the overall places but also for best placed crew in the Admirals Cup (non-double floor) and Vintage (clinker built hulls) categories. The overall winner would also get to take home the prestigious and very old Scottish Daily Express Trophy so there was much to compete for and consequently this attracted entries across all categories, with boats ranging in age from the latest designs to vintage clinker boats dating from 1957.
Saturday dawned to a beautiful late summer sun but very little wind. The great news was the gathering of SYC Cadets all keen to crew in a National 12 in an Open Meeting, so after a few crew changes, the fleet launched but struggled to make progress against the incoming tide. The competitors were thus towed out into the bay to the Committee boat, where they waited on a glassy sea. With the temperature rising fast PRO Chris Nurney expected the sea breeze to arrive in due course which it did after an hour’s delay, and an Olympic course was set, with the aim to get 3 races in before the tide forced an end to proceedings.Solway
In race 1 Philip David and Elaine Ross started well in N3499 Out of the Blue sailed into clear air and a lead they never lost. Behind them Ed Willett and his cadet crew Zak Holland had a firm grip of 2nd place in N1833 Water Nymph ahead of Ian Purkis and another SYC cadet crew Josh MacDougall in N3384 Cunning Plan. In fourth and reunited with N1620 Mock Turtle that she last sailed as an SYC cadet about 10 years ago, Bronagh Gillespie was going very well (while trying not to sink the boat this time!), ably crewed by Mhairi MacDonald. The fleet was brought home by Angus Beyts and another SYC cadet crew Stevie Gaston in N3231 Mr Bill.

Race 2 started after a short delay and some mark moving and eager to get going both Ian & Angus found they were over the line at the start and had to return giving an advantage to the others, with Philip & Ed again setting the pace. Philip and Ed were never going to be caught and the racing was all happening behind them, Angus and Stevie recovering to third while Ian & Josh had a moment, filling up Cunning Plan and falling back behind the girls in Mock Turtle.

Race 3 commenced straight after race 2 and the order at the front had changed. Ian and Josh, now in the groove, got a better start and were only a short way behind Philip & Elaine at the windward mark, and showing great boat speed on the downwind legs, reached the leeward mark in the lead. On the next lap Philip and Elaine got the better of them upwind only to have a repeat performance downwind reaching the leeward mark side by side. As Philip luffed and defended, Ian dived for Philip’s leeward side, trying to reach the mark ahead. It was never going to be but then things turned from bad to worse! Philip rounded cleanly but Ian, rounding tightly, caught the mark’s mooring line round his centreboard, and then the rudder before getting clear. Still to round he freed himself, only to give an exact repeat performance; catching his centreboard and rudder and watched with great frustration as Ed and Zak cruised past to claim second! Ian finally got untangled, did his turns and finished an embarrassed third! This was also SYC’s “Craning Out” weekend, with several of the cruising yachts being hoisted ashore, before the annual Laying Up dinner to which the N12 fleet were welcomed with great hospitality, delicious food and a fascinating talk by the SYC Secretary John Sproat on his 2010 sailing cruise around Cape Horn.

Sunday morning dawned and now it was a dramatic change of weather, overcast and windy, with the forecast F4 to F5 southerly blowing straight up the estuary, which meant a long tiring beat out to the Committee Boat and promised for exciting conditions out in the race area near Rough Island. Race 4 started and consistently Philip and Elaine again led the way at the windward mark with Ian and Josh not far behind. Ed and Zak were in third closely followed by Angus and Stevie. At the gybe mark in strong gusts and lumpy sea Ed and Zak elected to tack round, however Angus and Stevie attempted to gybe and in the process T-boned Water Nymph on the aft quarter and capsized letting Bronagh, now crewed by Ailsa Ross, past. The girls sailed a great second beat and Mock Turtle rounded the next windward mark just behind Water Nymph. On the long goose winged run to the leeward mark the two old boats were planing side by side, rocking and rolling as the gusts came through, the girls showing better downwind speed (and nerves!) and reached the mark a couple of boat lengths ahead. However Ed and Zak drove Water Nymph hard up the final beat and managed to reclaim third beating Mock Turtle by a few seconds.   Solway

The final race promised to be exciting and potentially spectacular, being a race from out in the bay near Rough Island all the way up river to Palnackie harbour mouth and then back to Kippford. After a short upwind leg to a turning mark the fleet commenced the long run up the estuary and river to the north. All was straightforward until the fleet arrived at the aptly named “Devil’s Reach”. The very high tide had flooded the merse and was masking the river channel and while every helm had previously sailed to Palnackie local knowledge was going to be vital. Philip & Elaine again were leading but were the first to hit the shallows and go aground, handing Ian & Josh the opportunity to use their local knowledge and get ahead. Instead Ian sailed Cunning Plan hard aground and with rudder jammed, and buffeted by fierce gusts spent several painful minutes recovering. Somehow Angus and Stevie kept Mr Bill in the channel and were now lying second albeit some way behind Philip and Elaine on the return to the finish. The two vintage boats had both by now retired fearing boat damage or worse but the incidents weren’t over. Angus and Stevie, crossed the finish line in a well deserved second but then made the classic mistake of returning and re-crossing the line, contrary to the SI’s and despite being warned by the PRO at the mornings briefing; and thus were rather unlucky to get a DNF, but gave Ian and Josh their first bit of luck for the weekend by promoting them to second.

Back at the Clubhouse an impromptu birthday celebration for Stevie preceded the prize-giving. Guests included a couple of young ladies, just passing and dragged in to swell the crowd, who turned out to be part of the cast of a feature length horror movie being filmed in an old large house close by. If the horrors of the Palnackie Race weren’t bad enough, the sight of their revealed, make-up wounds, reminded us “it could have been worse”!

Generous prizes courtesy of the Event series sponsor GUL, were presented by Solway YC’s Commodore Jim Holland. Special Gul Merit prizes were presented to deserving candidates and SYC’s cadets and as overall winners Philip and Elaine were presented with the beautiful Scottish Daily Express Trophy, this notably being the first time Philip has won this event despite his impressive N12 palmares! Ed and Zak were awarded the Mariner Mug being the highest placed Admirals Cup/Vintage boat.

After nominating both Ed Willett and Ian Purkis, Angus Beyts presented the Ladybird Book of Sailing (awarded for the most comic moment of the Championships) to Ian Purkis for his remarkable demonstration of local navigation skills on the race to Palnackie, as having taken the lead he then proceeded to be perhaps the first person to attempt to herd sheep and plough a field with a National 12 dinghy, and again whilst battling for the lead on Saturday and on rounding and hitting a mark, he wasn’t sure if he had hit it so went back and did it again!Solway

The N12 Class and competitors thank Solway YC, PRO Chris Nurney and his on the water team for expertly managing the back to back races, with special thanks to all those on the water manning the rescue boats over two long days!

Overall results


Sail Number

Boat Name

Boat Design







Out of the Blue

Feeling Foolish

Philip David

Elaine Ross

Yorkshire Ouse SC




Water Nymph

Proctor Mk9

Ed Willett

Zak Holland

Cramond BC




Cunning Plan

Final Chapter

Ian Purkis

Josh MacDougall

Solway YC




Mock Turtle

Proctor Mk6

Bronagh Gillespie

Mhairi MacDonald/ Ailsa Ross

Solway YC




Mr Bill

Baggy Trousers 2

Angus Beyts

Stevie Gaston

Newburgh SC