National 12 - find out more...

The future of the N12

Started by STU W, 13 Mar 2014, 03:55

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JimC (Guest)

Speaking as an outsider looking in, I wonder if you need to think a bit more about your aims and why your class exists, and also what's going on in the rest of the game.
You surely don't want to be the most popular boat on the water, I mean, we know what that takes, it needs to be a one design, it needs to be built as cheaply as possible, preferably by a single manufacturer or nearly so, it needs to be vaguely fashionable but have next to no innovation... Sure you could turn your class into a vague imitation of that and probably there would be more boats, but what would be the point? What was the quote a long time ago, "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul"?
I'm sure Smilie's right about double bottoms and ergonomics... My last Cherub had barely two inches of false floor at the stern, if rather more further forward. Why not put a bit more freeboard on if its worrying you. Goodness knows you have weight to burn. The question to ask is whether its the helms worried or the forward hands - forward hands obviously have much less space if the boat is going to drain, but if its mainly helms just build it up a bit. Is this an era to go back to wet feet and bailers?
Clinker Hulls? Please. Is there more than *one* vaguely successful clinker hulled class on the entire planet? Home building has almost died out because home building has almost died out in almost every other class, not because you haven't stuck with a heavy outdated form of construction that was mandated by the limitations of the materials available to your great grandfathers. And few things are intrinsically more ridiculous than moulded clinker boats!
Maybe its worth thinking about the rudder foils. For the same amount of money you could add probably 18inches to the hulls, carry more weight for modern substantial sailors, have more flexibility and lots more performance. If you wouldn't consider that why have the foils? The foils do seem to fight against the picture outsiders have of a basically simple concept which is nevertheless refined to extreme sophistication within that simple platform.
Anyway, that's my twoppence worth. Think about where you want to be as a class. You're not going to compete with RS sales figures, so why bother. Plenty of classes have existed indefinitely in niches and provided fun for their owners and development for the sport. Heck, I sail Canoes now, which are up to around 300 boats in the UK since sail numbers started in the 20s, and at the moment are at something of a high in boats built per year...


Quote from: 849
A prize is given out to Non-foiling boats.  I think one thing we cannot criticise the class over is there attempts to keep people happy by handing out prizes.  The list of different prize winners at Burton Week is pretty long...

Sorry my bad:B I noticed just after posting prizes being given out for non-foilers this saturday.
Ps Hope you have got the date for the 4 planker event at Ely Sailing club in your diary ;)
The futures bright the future is rivers and lakes


Just wanted non N12 people visiting this forum to know
N3162 (Baggy Trousers) "Bicycle Clips"
N2709 (Paper Dart) "Goose Hunter"


Quote from: 849
A prize is given out to Non-foiling boats.  I think one thing we cannot criticise the class over is there attempts to keep people happy by handing out prizes.  The list of different prize winners at Burton Week is pretty long...

I also turned up in my hopelessly uncompetitive Paper Dart to the Inland Championships 2012 and took away more prizes than any other boat - 4th AC, Oldest (surviving) boat, and first GILL event.  Best weekend sailing I've ever had.

Which is all very laudable but does not address the problems faced by the class at Club level.

Interested Party

So does the class need a simplified 'weight carrier' (and I mean 23 stone and above) with all round sailing ability, i.e. goes as well upwind as downwind for inland waters then?
Or will nobody buy it, even if it existed......
Steve Hawkins <br />N12 - Planet 672 -1948 (Holt modified 500 series)<br />N12 - Spider 2523 - 1971 (Spider) <br />N12 - Sparkle 2383 - 1967 (Starfish)

Nick Copsey

Speaking as one of the youth sailors in the fleet there are several statements in this thread that I disagree with, firstly the under 30’s contingent at burton week last year was stronger than the AC contingent, and the majority of us had winged rudders. Secondly a DCB is not needed to be competitive, Steve Norbury and Andy Hill were one of the fastest boats at BW 2010 in their foolish with winged rudder despite being a lot heavier than most, the Ballantine brothers have been quick in their foolish (built 1998 ) peter was 6th at BW last Year and 3rd at the inlands with a rudder they built themselves for under £200, I was second at Norfolk week this year in a foolish and even won a race. Thirdly winged rudders cost less than a suit of sails and last the life of the boat which new sails won’t and you can build one yourself with the adjustment system for less than £100, Steve LeGrys did and his is probably the best adjustment system in the fleet.
You may look at the results and see DCB’s dominating the top spots at Burton week over the last few years but this is mostly because those are the best sailors who have been there.
 A couple of other points worth mentioning, Peter Ballantine had the opportunity to sail the original DCB over the summer last year and decided that it was faster upwind than his foolish but slower around the course than his foolish. I believe the weight range of the boats has gone up with the foiling rudders, I never felt like I was lacking in boat speed against the likes of Graham and Zoe or Tom and Andrea despite sailing the boat a couple of stone heavier (I was almost always over 19 stone normally closer to 20) and this I often felt was to my advantage, I was losing out because I didn’t sail as well as they did. Also on the weight front William Warren and Sophie Mackley qualify for the tubs trophy (for those over 21 stone combined) and lost the champs at Hayling Island in 2012 on count back and would have almost certainly won if they hadn’t gone swimming in the last race.
With the price of second hand foolishes I believe an outsider could win Burton week if they sailed as well as the best DCB with a budget of £4200 (£2200 for the boat, £900 for an ‘off the shelf’ winged rudder, new sails for £1100(or £900 in the sale)) or a lot less than that if they are prepared to put in a bit of work themselves, and there are very few classes with the level of competition the 12 has you can have the boat speed to win in at that price.
Another preconception that people seem to have is that boats with wings are difficult to tack, this simply isn’t the case most of the time, it’s only when it’s really windy and you are sat much further back that you need to work out a new way of getting across the boat as the tiller gets in the way, but the wings make gybing significantly easier especially when it gets windier, Lewis and I had no issues gybing at the Steve Nicholson memorial trophy this year when it was exceptionally windy and the run was littered with upturned boats a lot of whom are well respected dinghy sailors.


Nick, very commendable and good to hear you defend the class but surely even the most die hard supporter must see that the class is not in a healthy state. Therefore saying all is well with the class is not the most positive route to take. Even if winged rudders are the best thing since sliced bread if the perception of them s negative is it the best way to go. Having started this thread to try and get peoples opinions it is interesting to see most people feel that one of the big factors is rudders and boats designed around them. However good they are.. If they stop people from sailing twelves are they good for the class. Is this the problem or is it deeper than that. I know a lot of long established 12 sailors now campaign RS 200's which are not such good boats IMHO, so why did they decide to go for this option. I love the developmental aspect of the 12 but only if it keeps the class healthy.  I am not surprised that the youth section of burton week was higher than A/C. People sail A C boats at club level as they know they are uncompetitive against the latest boats and this has always been the case since the 90s. Also Burton Week is not the b all bad end all of the class. But if you look back the number of junior teams is a shadow of what it has been and I think the number of kids sailing 12's at club level is at an all time low. The majority of 12 sailors are well over 40 and many joined the class in the 80/90s. statistics don't lie. Rather than saying how wonderful every thing is we should be asking how things can be made even more wonderful again
12's are for life not just for christmas.


Just because someone disagrees with you it does not mean they are wrong.
At no point did Nick say that the class was in a healthy state and that all was well.
If you truly want to help the class you need to be more constructive and not try to belittle someone who has a different opinion to you.
The young are the future. Being rude to them is not the way to attract them to the class.
AC boats have always been uncompetitive against the latest boats, not just since the 90s, it is the whole point of having the AC definition.
The number of kids crewing any boats is at an all time low, but I think they are higher now than in the two years prior to foils.
The RYA inclination to take a scatter gun approach and tell anyone who can hold a tiller that they could be an Olympic champion if they follow their path has resulted in far too many youngsters giving up crewing and start helming far too young.
The National 12 is a fantastic boat to sail.
I can understand peoples’ frustration at the fewer numbers sailing but cannot agree that it is “not as exciting as other boats in the same category”.  I cannot think of any boats in the same category that are more exciting. More numerous, possibly but anyone who thinks other boats are more exciting should be sailing them.
Burton “week” became 4 days before foiling rudders so it is a red herring to suggest this is the reason for the falling numbers.
I think the average weight increase for humans is a factor but I think the main reason is the lack of young people in the class over the last 20 years.
We need to target the teenagers who at 18-21 are looking for somewhere to go.
There are many who become too big and old for 29ers and 420s who have nowhere to go.
I believe people should be more optimistic about the class. The price of a foolish now means that you can acquire a fantastic boat for a relatively modest price. And if we can get a few more university students sailing they will encourage others. I know 3 helms under 21 who have bought 12s because they have seen and talked to Nick.
If those 3 attract 3 more each they class will grow again.
There is no other dinghy which is better for a teenager to sail. The small sail area means they can cope on the water at an earlier age than most of the ‘Adult’ dinghies and they are not too heavy to lug around off the water like most.
The quality of the fleet means they can learn far more from racing against top helms than in most fleets and the willingness of the top guys to help and advise young helms should be praised.
They are also a great boat for a parent/ child combination. In how many other boats can adult helms enjoy sailing with 6 year old children ?
I first sailed a 12 in 1973 and I still enjoy sailing one when I can. 
The fact is that the helms at the top end of the fleet before foils are almost exclusively the same as the helms at the front now.
What we should all try to do is get on the water as much as possible, point out what a great boat the 12 is to others and let them see for themselves.
Every time you sail you are more likely to encourage others which will increase numbers, making sailing more enjoyable and increase the value of your boat.
Martin- The handicap issue is frustrating, but for handicap racing clubs should provide different handicap numbers for older boats per the RYA handbook.
Your club should do this but it depends on the committee.

Interested Party

I love my National 12 (s).  I have gravitated towards a classic N12, because my tall rig, classic Merlin Rocket was a bit of a handful on the sort of lakes I generally sail on, when the wind gets up.  Its a two adult boat, that I was often spilling the wind just to keep her upright, even with another like sized person on board.  The 'lake' wants you to commit youself 100%, just to suprise you with a sudden fluke, direction change or hole - then your in.  The N12 is just that bit more manageable with a light crew.  However, I am not competive, really.  Which is just as well.  I have not seen 12 stone for 25 years or more, and unlikley to do so unless I lop a leg off.  My 'ideal weight for height' is above that.  And I am only 5' 10".  Which means my crew has to be very light to stand any chance.
My questions, above are about finding out.  I am not trying to 'stir the pot'.  But it has to be said that a new N12 would not be on the cards for me, even if I had 12 grand and the permission from the boss to spend it.  Not only am I too fat, but I am, fankly, not a good enough sailor to justify it.
So my vote is for the ye olde glued clinker of the 60's, and I will not be troubling any one at the front.
Did I mention I have a fetish for wood......
Steve Hawkins
Steve Hawkins <br />N12 - Planet 672 -1948 (Holt modified 500 series)<br />N12 - Spider 2523 - 1971 (Spider) <br />N12 - Sparkle 2383 - 1967 (Starfish)


Evening all
I have had bit of dig back through the google data mine yesterday  back to when the idea of t foils was first being kicked about. Actually there‘s loads of info out there to read for anyone who’s been out the loop for a while. And found a post from when the idea of t foils was first being kicked about, I can’t remember who posted and I can’t find my way back to it ( I think I might have dreamed it) but it basically said after the 14’s had done the planning end of foil development, the 12’s have got the chance to focus on the displacement end of foil development.  

So taking on board what the mighty JimC said about bracing what you have got celebrating it. This got me thing as opposed to being down on t foils people go back to thinking about of making ways optimizing them for area’s 12’s sail in. After it’s already been proved t foils help reduce the total displacement of the boat. So that’s gotta’ help with weight caring abilities.  
Also how difficult would it be to come up with an PY for non-foiling doubled bottomed boats?
The futures bright the future is rivers and lakes

John m

Hi, lots of opinions here.  I wish more people sailed N12s than they do.  It worries me that fewer people want them.  I fear they have progressively become more complex in a world where many people want off the shelf.
I am commited to the Class.   I have been Class chairman twice as the class has been in decline.  I have purchased 3 of the last 30 boats built. This includes trying to get the budget Rondar boat going 5 years ago and a one off two years ago.
I love sailing with both my wife and my children.
I enjoy spending time with the people who sail these boats.
I think that the modern boats are more exciting than the previous generation.  I think that there remains a huge opportunity within the rules to try new things.  This may concern others into trying new things.
Interestingly Jo Richards advocates allowing wooden built planked boats to be allowed a lower weight limit to promote more amateur building.  I fear that this is a small market and that building is complex when customers want more off the shelf.  
Crew weight is a perceived issue, but I have always been at the top end of it and have coped.  Foils are fun although transporting them around needs a little bit of planning.  The rule change to limit size is useful.  T-foils are quick all around somewhere like Salcombe so I think the restricted water comments are wrong.
My issue with the boat / current rule set is that our sails have got a little out of hand if you go for all the unmeasured area that is possible the jib does not last very long.  
As stated by Nick, the Ballantine home rudders are excellent and can be copied and retro fitted to a foolish for example.  
However things are not rosy.  I am pretty sure that the average age of the N12 sailor has gone up a little every year for the last 25 years as sailors hung on and insufficient people joined the class.  The boats are better than they were 25 years ago, and probably relatively better boats than the competition.  However, being a better boat may not be enough on its own.  The reality is that there are very few classes which can argue to be in very good health.  I will name the Merlin and Solo as two but am struggling to give you a third.  However, without doubt there are more which are in better health than we are.  
The most important metric is people going sailing.  3543 is in the shed but we have borrowed a non t-foil foolish for Burghfield this weekend.  Why don't you come along?

Interested Party

One thing the N12 has got, is a very rich history, with many designs from many different eras.  Along side the modern sharp end of sailing, the class should continue promote and possibly expand the support for the racing of older designs.  Perhaps sharing venues with the CVRDA (Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association) like the Merlin Rockets occasionally do.  I understand there is a renewed interest in 4 plankers which is a step in the right direction as long as they are raced with the age appropriate gear.  I understand this is well in hand.  These older designs still have much to offer and interest in them can only steady the price of those more recent designs.
Steve H
Steve Hawkins <br />N12 - Planet 672 -1948 (Holt modified 500 series)<br />N12 - Spider 2523 - 1971 (Spider) <br />N12 - Sparkle 2383 - 1967 (Starfish)


Some further great contributions by all...and great to see input from those at the top/front of the fleet; ie Nick C and John M. Some further thoughts from me....
People like Nick are the future of the Class.  We need more people in 12's, and to do that we need to market ourselves; ie be seen. Winning the Blooody Mary has to be one of the highest profile marketing efforts we can make. However it has long been said and I still think it true; to build the Class we need to focus on building Club fleets.
Whether we like the direction the Class has taken or not, we are where we are.
With respect to building Club fleets - the beauty of the Class is that we have a vast number of older boats available at very affordable prices, which are competitive in Club handicap fleets if the NTOA handicaps for the older boats are adopted. I long campaigned in the 90's that our "feeder" for the front of the fleet was these older boats....and now with the tiered handicaps we have made them a viable Club racer and thus a viable entry point into the Class. The one thing 12 sailors tend to have in spades is passion for the Class; and that does rub off on others from other classes when we mingle and chat. Then when they then find out that the beautiful eye catching varnished Crusader that just trounced everyone only cost £750 they are amazed! Once into the Class the path is clear....the Club sailor may wish to go travelling, and thus upgrade their boat....and so on....ultimately I believe this is the path to secure greater numbers in new boats at the front of the fleet.
At Solway YC last year some of the Club youngsters were press ganged into the front of some of the visitors 12' in my clinker Mk9 and one in in a Baggy Trousers. The sailing was exhilerating...waves and wind! These young crews thoroughly enjoyed their experience, and when they found that they could get a competitive Club racer for very little money they were amazed. The last I heard they were looking for a Paper Dart or Design 8 or similar. What these potential newcomers also saw was the real breadth of the Class with a broad representation of designs on the start line, from double bottomed Foolishes, AC designs and clinker boats all competing alongside each opther and all vying for position...which illustrated  that an older boat was a viable entry to the Class. A great selling point in my view.
For 2014 I will again try and qualify for the Scottish, Northern and Vintage Travellers series...but my main aim this year is to try and promote the Class at Club level. Which simply means turning up and going sailing...and chatting to fellow Club sailors. At Cramond we are lucky...they will adopt the tiered handicaps for older boats, and they dont mind if we sail single handed on occasion.
Anyway I'll sign off with Steve's comments....I am similarly an ex rugby player, now in my 50's I am far too big and heavy for the Class, but always have been. My worn out knees will never allow me to compete in a double floored boat, so a new 12 is  "not be on the cards for me, even if I had 12 grand and the permission from the boss to spend it.  Not only am I too fat, but I am, frankly, not a good enough sailor to justify it"......however the Class does has a perfect boat for me, my Mk9 (1833) carries weight well and doesnt seem to care whether I have 25 or 21 stone aboard, and I can sit quite happily without a creak or crack from the knees....and it actually seems to go quite well...well enough anyway!


Quote from: 474
 My issue with the boat / current rule set is that our sails have got a little out of hand if you go for all the unmeasured area that is possible the jib does not last very long.  

Back when I was doing a bit of competitive 12 sailing I often thought it would much better to de-regulate the rules around sails and move to system were just measure total actual area or close as you can. Also weirdly I’m just going back and wading through frank bethwaite’s High Performance sailing and in the section talking about setting up the NS14 he talks about the problems of using sail measurement systems were don’t measure the total area and the leave things like the roach free. ( I would like to caveat this statement by saying I’m not proposing changes the rules to get more people into 12’s but you have it might work eg. The cherubs change from ‘97 rules to ’05 rules)
Quote from: 474  The rule change to limit size is useful. 

This worries me that a restriction on wing size might restrict evolution. I always like to rely on the natural restrictions like drag and materials. Unless there is a real danger of development producing something undesirable eg. Having no restrictions over mast/luff length
Quote from: 824I understand there is a renewed interest in 4 plankers which is a step in the right direction as long as they are raced with the age appropriate gear. 

Yup four events 5th July at Ely SC, 20th July at Trent Valley SC and 16th at August Olton Mere SC. And yes like the vintage champs no carbon spars, foils, wings or trim taps.
The futures bright the future is rivers and lakes


One thing I think should be done right away:  The Class Chairman, Chairman of the Technical Committee and Chief Measurer should jointly write a letter to be sent to all clubs where N12's are sailed explaining the reasons that the class have derived age-related handicaps and asking them to implement them in club racing.  This will help us with older boats get more recognition at club level.
N3162 (Baggy Trousers) "Bicycle Clips"
N2709 (Paper Dart) "Goose Hunter"

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