National 12 - find out more...

Saturday 11th May, The Jack Chippendale Centenary Event

Hosted by the Fareham Sailing and Motor Boat Club, the event was held to celebrate Jack's centenary where his yard built most of his 4000 racing dinghies between 1947 and 1971. Of these, the very first was N599 with another 320 N12s subsequently, the last being N2483. His mission was to built boats that were not only fast but also beautiful, so the smallest detail was essential to his meticulous standard. Notable boats included the prototypes of the Fireball and 505 classes while others included Flying Fifteens, Merlin Rockets, Finns and, appropriately, by his apprentices, Cadets.

Ian and Margaret Purkis

The morning started with a warm welcome by the Club's Commodore, Richard Payne, in the FSMBC's historic clubhouse, once a military hospital during the Napoleonic Wars. The greeting was especially warm to several of Jack's past employees and the Club's visitors. A tour of Jack's yard followed, led by his former yard foreman, Eric Harvey and included the old quayside three-storey grain warehouse where the N12s, amongst others, had been built. Even the winch in the roof, used to lift materials up and finished hulls down, was still there.

Next came the opening of the clubhouse's stunning new extension, an all-glass construction cleverly linked to the original Listed Building, overlooking the Fareham Creek and the many moored yachts and wildlife beyond. After speeches and tributes, a barbecue on the quayside patio was followed by a briefing for the racing to follow.

Chippendale Centenary participants

Race one had the local luggers, small lugsail dinghies sailed singlehanded starting first with a second start for the visiting Chippendale built boats, the crews of which were by now being referred to, somewhat disconcertingly, as "The Chippendales"! Ian and Margaret in N1483 "My Little Margie" got the best start and were soon among the back of the lugger fleet, followed closely by two beautiful Flying Fifteens. Once past everyone, the pair sailed off down the creek towards Portsmouth Harbour like two elegant swans in formation. The windward mark was a starboard hand navigation post and with most of "the Chippendales" round first, the leading luggers bobbed along in their wake, all being very energetically sailed. Back in view of the Clubhouse, a jazz band was by now in full swing, adding to the great atmosphere.

Race two and with the tide dropping, the RO had decided the entire fleet would have a single start making for a fun encounter with a vast speed difference between the fastest boats and the luggers. A much shorter course was set, all in view of the crowded Clubhouse, so making it an exhibition race for those ashore, although it didn't feel like that afloat! The two Flying Fifteens swept off ahead while "Margie", the Luggers and others followed, completing a couple of delightful laps around the course. Prizegiving, after using an ingenious handicapping system, somehow resulted in every one of "the Chippendales" and the highest placed lugger, all awarded a prize!

More socialising and yarning followed with the party continuing long into the night with the members' own band putting on a great live show during the open mic session. A truly wonderful day and a very great pleasure to represent the class that started it all!

n12 Bottom Banner