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Nice Ratchet & Discussion of what the members want

Started by THG, 28 Jul 2006, 12:10

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Congrats to the team on putting together the latest copy of Ratchet.

Per the request from our new awaiting Chairman I thought I'd kick off a discussion.

I'd like to have more opportunity to sail against 12s - I guess there are relatively few Clubs that have a fleet and we seem to be quite thinly spread around.  I've tried to attend a few Opens this year but like many of us have family commitments to balance out.  The soultion may be in our own hands - for example the N12 SW circut consists of;

Bristol     Gill
Starcross     Gill

Compare this to the South West Solo circuit (which are all one days)
Sutton Bingham
Chew Valley
South Cerney

I think there may be 12s at mnay of these Clubs.  How do we get more events so less travelling may be needed for the 'less serious' whilst still making these quite well attended.  Can we share more Opens or possibly just have a seperate start and join in with existing Club racing?  Could the format be changed at some of these events to maybe the the N12 handicaps - again allow some of the older boats a chance to compete.  Would this encourage more boats out to support local small fleets and so show the Class is active and attract new members?  This could provide a useful way of answering some of the techinal questions that seem to come up in the forum where new owners need help setting up boats, swapping gear etc.  Clubs start to plan their 07 programmes soon after the Summer ends so its a good time to see if there are sailors at each Club who could request an event.  To help support this we need to create local mailing lists of owners - this could also help to identify boats not actively being sailed and rotting in dinghy compounds.

The number of 12s is similar to the Firefly / Merlin / Solo (UK only??) but they seem to attact some bigger fleets and more active circuits (IMHO).

Also using the web resources to identify boats / Clubs (the Cherub site has quite a nice database type approach) this could help to promote the fleet and show that we care about the entire Class and its history.

Looking forward to Burton week and some discussions - where can I find a list of entrants for that?  The Fireflies have over 100 enetred for their 60th, Merlins there's a listing of entrants there too.  May encourage a few more out if folks new BW is not dominated by the DBs.

Just a few thoughts  :B lets discuss  ;D



John Murrell (Guest)


Good point about the SW series. There was a time not so long ago when there were two other events in the series - Saltash and Looe, the second Salcombe event was put in to make the series more viable about 5 years ago. I have still kept in the calendar for this year, but am under pressure to drop it due to lack of numbers.

One thing to bear in mind is the very small number of active Twelves in the South West. We have 4 active boats in Salcombe, one at Saltash, two of three at Starcross, none(?) at Avon, not sure about BCYC and then there are the two boats being finished in my Garage at the moment............... It isn't really enouth of a fleet to warrant a SW Series at present, or am I missing something?

Sorry the elastic broke!



Thats my point we have more boats - at least;

1 SSCSC (me) & a Vintage that doesn't sail
1 or 2 at Whitefriars
2 at Chippenham
2 Frampton (maybe more) - Brian Owns both
BCYC - there's quite a few
Evesham may now be empty...

Can't comment on the rest - but maybe if we redefined some of the areas or allowed 'joint' Opens e.g spinnaker could be both Thames & SW at same time.  Encouraging these sorts of folks out with a local circuit may help to get numbers back or else you're right it dwindles down to a hardcore that will travel and the rest sail at local Clubs.

Kean (new ropes on order)


DavidG (Guest)

Salcombe active fleet might increase to 5 boats subject to sale of house!

The problem may be that for geographical reasons, those boats that there are are unwilling to travel.  I note that there is a very high quality and good sized Solo fleet at Salcombe, but few of them travel far, especially during the Summer.

How about having a South West championship rather than a circuit, and really work at fostering links with clubs that have 12's rather than those that don't.

How about some team racing?

I was only thinking the other day that you/we could resurect the Yachting World Team Trophy as a 2 boat event at Salcombe, instead of the Autumn meeting.  We could set up short courses at Widegates or Crossways or in front of the club and make it an Autumn weekend break event, now that you have a mast on "Shirley"




There's a wider issue here - which is the discussion that Antony's question prompted.  How do we get more 12s sailing more?

The Committee has put in a huge amount of creative effort into this year's 70th anniversary.  This delivered a terrific event at Pitsford and what should be a really successful Burton Week.  There's a shortage of second hand boats and an apparent growth of interest from potential newcomers.  All this is positive.  Yet ... as the coordinator of the Thames Area series, I can report that open meeting turnouts are down at all our meetings so far this year and this seems to be the picture around the country.  I also don't get the sense that people are concentrating on club sailing instead .  Apart from a few notable hotspots, the club fleets remain patchy.  I don't know how NWNW and Salcombe week entries will turn out.

In UK sailing, there are essentially five levels - club, local/regional open meeting circuit, national open meeting circuit (Gill for 12s), regatta weeks (Salcombe, NWNW) and championships.  If we assume no more than 150 12s being sailed across the UK (am I right on this?), spreading them out this thinly is always going to lead to fleets under pressure.

The two answers that usually spring to mind are:
1. get more people into 12s - but the committee has poured energy into this for years and it's hard to see what more we might do.
2. spread the active ones less thinly by reducing the number of events.  While this is happening to some extent by natural selection (we have lost Pevensey this year for example), no-one would want to be in a position to try to kill off one club's open meeting in order to promote another (and this probably wouldn't work anyway).

So where does that leave us?  If there's been one change that I have really noticed over my 37 (!!) years sailing 12s, it is the amount that we all actually sail our boats.  When I started, I and others at Nottingham routinely sailed Saturday afternnons, Sundays all day and Thursday evenings pretty much every week from Easter through to the end of October.  My sense, all these years on, is that for many (including me) our 12s are more often boats of occasion.  We try to cram in many more conflicting demands into our lives and get the 12 out once every third or fourth weekend.  When we do this, we want great sailing - and I suspect that's why the Gill series has been popular.  I've also noticed this year that long term committed 12 sailors, are tending to spend time in other classes (or yachts), presumably for variety and new challenge.

I recognise that for a good reason, Anne and I haven't been out as much this year as last.  Others will have their own reasons.  But - the question, and challenge, remains - how do we get those people who own 12s to sail them - at any level - more frequently?  Understanding that could lead us to higher turnouts all round - and class assured of long term health.  And it's something we have to crack; we are the current guardians of 70 years of sailing heritage and we need to ensure that this Class is handed on in continuing prosperity to the future.

Mike D


So maybe more one day events - maybe do a bit of training / setup in morning then have races in afternoon?  Should the races be 'formal' races and count for the qualifying series OR should there be events of  amore 'fun' nature where we use the handicaps of the different developments?  Perhaps we set up the series so you have to attend a number of 'regular' opens and a number of 'handicap' opens??

By identifying where everyone is sailing maybe we can provide more opportunities for those that don't want to travel too far can still sail a few events.

I may be needing some regional help so if you want to volunteer from the deep South - would be great.  Sounds like we have some similar needs / thoughts.


jammy dodger

Hi there, thank you for your comments on Ratchet, not sure who the team were - I got some help, mainly from graham, but had to chase up most of the stuff published. Sorry about the article going wonky, not sure what happened there, but will try and get it right next time.
On 12's, we have five regularly sailing at Spinnaker and another four or so in the boat park. I am keen that we get a Gill event next year (PLEASE NOTE!!!) as Spinnaker is a great venue and anyone who says we don't get enough wind is completely wrong.
I will try and pick up on this thread for use in the September Ratchet, perhaps you could do me a favour and track it, turn it into an article and email to me at
Ta very much


Ok - so I'm volunteering for more work.  Mike I agree with your comments on competing time.  Initailly it would be good to know what boats we have that are 'active' and list out the Clubs being sailed.  This would be a help in maybe re-defining Regions or how to set up Gill events.

I'm quite happy to have a go at putting together a SW regional listing - at least get the Clubs listed and maybe just getting forum replies like this to identify whos sailing where.

I think fewer events are meeting needs of the core but at the expense of those who aren't prepared to travel / commit the time.

Good debate!


DavidG (Guest)

Mike's comments are interesting.  I liken this to the fact that the majority of active 12's are now kept in garages rather than boat parks, and that we used to pick up crews off the beach, now we will only consider sailing with our regular crew.

We havn't sailed at all this year due to pressures of exams, work, house moves and a double stack trailer that makes access to the 12 a real hassle.  In fact I am sure that if I changed the trailer I would have sailed more this year!

The reality is that the 12 has always been a class for transients (except for Bruce), as youngsters many of us aspired to sailing classes with trapezes and spinnakers, we got married, had children and a few of us have returned to the class because they are interesting boats to sail, at nice places and can renew old friendships.  We could also sail them reasonably competitively with our partners or children.

In our case pressures of GCSE's AS and A levels have really scuppered our sailing for the past three years except for the summer holidays, our children are growing up and wanting to do different things, and sailing with the old man is not high on the list of prefered activities.

Fleet numbers of all sorts have been an issue for years, I am not sure what the solutions are, but I do recognize that there was a real buzz of enthusiasm about the class 4 or 5 years ago which seams to have lost some momentum.

I think that the key is to try and get people earlier, hold onto them longer and while we have them get them sailing more often.

The only way to acheive this is to make the class more aspirational (conversation Peacock, Day, Greening curry house Pevensey).  This could be by making the boats more exciting, the socials better, and in improving our percieved position in the national class hierarchy.

I think that the class has to adapt to suit a changing world.  Whilst recognizing that we have a unique history, we need to look forward and less to our past.  We have a number of Holy Grails which actually may be part of the problem, the format and feel of Burton Week is no different to 30 years ago, but with half the boats for instance.

Our biggest problem is that 30 years ago the National 12 class was one of the classes that any seriously good sailor should visit, this status has been diminished as new classes have come along, the types of popular clubs have changed and possibly the greater divide between youth sailing and adult club sailing.

The lack of availability and price of boats is potentially a problem, however there have been several boats that have stayed on the market at 3 to 3.5k which are quite capable of finishing in the top 10 at Burton Week.  These boats offer a much better entry price than RS200's.

I can think of several classes which offer bigger turnouts but are quite frankly lesser boats than 12's, perhaps we should ask why these succeed where we don't.

Alternatively we could do nothing and go sailing with an ever shrinking band of old mates.



Jane Wade

Sounds like the start of an interesting and necessary conversation.  I was an avid 12 sailor for a long time attending every Burton Week from 1991 until 2003.  Sailing for me has been hit hard by the arrival of a small person in the family.

Time is a massive pressure with Dave sailing at least two other classes.  One day Open Meetings have some merit in my opinion, easier to find childcare for one day and at least leaves another day to do some chores!  

Northampton Sailing Club (our home club) is currently under going a period of discussion relating to a similar issue.  Turn outs for club racing are good but declining and it is thought this is because they are very fragmented with often no more than two boats of the same class on the start line.  There is campaign to only allow up to 10 classes at the club to encourage a stronger core that will build.  It may not work (it may not happen still to go to vote) but I think it is an excellent idea.  How do we make the 12 one of those classes?

My opinion is that we move the focus away from open meetings for a few years and pick say fifteen clubs around the country to be 12 centres and work hard with them to  build fleets.  When I first began sailing 12s didn't come from a vast number of clubs but a vast number of 12s came from a few clubs!  The Gypsy used to hotly contested.  I think this strategy will be painful in years one and two but bear fruit after that.

Who is going to help me campaign Northampton Sailing Club to ensure 12s are on that list?

Jane W
Caretaker 3468 (sadly really cannot afford a competitive 12 of our own)


Why not have FEWER open meetings - then perhaps 12 sailors would sail more often at their home clubs, and be more visible to new sailors/youth. This class does seem to be averse to handicap sailing, why?

Yesterday - at our annual sailcamp for the youngsters, we had 43 kids sailing. The boats that they were sailing broke down like this:

    • oppys/optimists/optibats - for stage 1,2,3 and racing
      toppers for stage 3 and racing
      mirrors for stage 4 (double handed)
      laser 2000's, fireballs & topper Vago for sailing with spinnakers
      wayfarers for seamanship
      afternoon racing was held with lasers, laser4.7, topper, optimists

    On the Friday afternoon - the kids got out boats they would like to sail and the favorite with the top sailors (14-15 year olds) was the contender.

    My point? well - the boats represented were all made available by MEMBERS WHO ARE ACTIVE IN CLUB RACING. many of these same members are instructors at the clubs and were running the courses. I don't see any reason why 12's could not have been used for the stage 2 course - perhaps with a cut down sail depending on crew weight and conditions. If the 12's are absent from club racing, and the 12 sailors are not instuctors at clubs - then youth sailors will not be aware of them as a class and won't aspire to owning one. I'm in the class because my instructor was a 12 sailor. And I saw his boat at the club. I offered my boat for the stage 2 course, but this was not accepted, probably the feeling was it is not a 'youth' boat.

    The albacores, RS200's, RS400's and international canoes at the club sail every week (often twice) and only seem to be away at opens infrequently. the albacores, RS200's and RS400's are sometimes helmed by youth sailors. in fact an optimist sailor aged 11, helmed an RS400 to second place in the annual persuit race this year, beating a 15 year old helming an albacore into 3'rd.

    There is another point - there is little excitement for the crew in a national 12... Unless it is very windy. As this is a development class, surely something could be done about this - how about a single handed modification? the rs feva, topper topaz etc. can all be sailed in varying rig configurations with different handicaps...
    Philip<br />ex N3367, ex N3253


    I think Jane's idea is a really good one!
    Emma &nbsp;(dance)

    Jane Wade

    If there is little to excite your crew then you are sailing the 12 wrong!  It doesn't matter what the conditions or the boat - sailing a double hander is about team work and there is always something to challenge both the helm and the crew.  Turn it into a single hander and destroy the class IMHO.

    The same can be said for class racing versus handiap, I enjoy sailing against boats to which we are evenly matched to see genuinely if we can sail better.  Handicap racing just has a feeling of inevitability about it.



    quite possibly not sailing it right!

    can't see how single handed would destroy class - esp if you keep the competitions within class two crewed.

    it just gives flexibility - i'm here now with a windy, sunny day, and two tired kids, neither of whom particularly want to go sailing. I think the comment about 'picking up crew on the beach' is very telling...

    the world has moved on - kids have way more oportunities today, and child protection means you can't be that informal now. this is bound to have a knock on effect.

    while we are on sacred cows - what about attaching a genniker? again with another set of handicaps...

    Philip<br />ex N3367, ex N3253

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