National 12 - find out more...


It is generally accepted in the National Twelves that development goes in phases. These, phases are often mainly due to the thoughts of one or two individuals rather than the Class as a whole. What makes a new idea catch on ? Is it due to a boat having, that idea and being successful ? As often as not, it has not been the fastest design which has become popular. It must therefore boil down to one thing: sex appeal !

This is the reason why many sailors feel a compulsive desire for a boat or fitting which is not necessarily logically the best. For instance is the Cheshire Cat a sexy looking boat ? It is better with the transom cut down, to a nice curve (more about that later) but the foredeck is a classic example of the need for a fitting. Presented with a large domed area, the owner feels an urge to put something at the top of the dome. A mast ram is a good example of this, regardless of the fact that it catches the jib, adds more windage and so on, it all breaks down to, the t . . s and b . . s syndrome,. This is also the reason for the full-width cutdown knees, minimum curved transoms and pinched stems to name but three.

The design which is best exploiting these principles at the moment is undoubtedly the Pipedream, hence the reason for its popularity although it is probably no faster than any other Twelve. Most designers probably think their boat is better, looking than anyone else's; still everyone to his own taste. Daggerboards are clearly a bona contentia within the Class at the moment; they also seem to me the biggest phallic symbol since the original conception of the 'Twelve. Could this therefore be the reason for
their greater acceptance by the younger members of the fleet (particularly when looking at the case from the outside) ?
There has been a long history of sex appeal in the Twelves, some with lots and others rather less, from the full-chested Uffa-King, to Little John and through to today. I have often wondered why the Windfall was the shape it was and why the more careful members of the Twelve fleet put their rudders away in tailor-made covers.

The more one looks into this, the more obvious it becomes; try thinking of a few boat names. And where is the current trend of development leading to? Your guess is as good as mine but I do seem to remember a boat called Four-poster.


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