National 12 - find out more...


I started my National Twelve sailing in an old Mk. 8 called Tiger Mouse, which served its purpose of teaching me to sail and introduce. me to Twelves. As time passed I thought I wanted to take racing seriously and I wanted a faster boat. As I was penniless anyway I didn't think of new or nearly new boats at all, instead I concentrated on a dilapidated Mk lla which was slowly rotting, in the dinghy park. This was aptly called Bits & Pieces. A few pounds spent and a lot of elbow grease (I still have no finger prints from the sandpaper) and two months later, a sparkling "new" boat appeared on the scene at Broxbourne.
At this time (late 1975) the fleet seemed to be full of fast newer designs such as Warlocks" Jackpots, Whispers and China Dolls. Then to my horror a Paper Dart arrived and that then settled it for me I had to have a new boat !

Now, how to go about acquiring a "new" boat ? Over the Winter series my speed in the Mk. lla improved, but not enough for me, So a close study of the boats on the, market led me to one conclusion. They were all very expensive; well to me at 16 it seemed so. When I first mentioned my idea of building a boat from scratch the only reaction from my 6th form mates was one of disbelief which turned into a huge joke. After going to the Dinghy Exhibition at Picketts Lock in March I came away with a definite idea of what sort of boat I wanted and I settled on the Havoc design by Keith Callaghan. The: plans were purchased and royalty paid after the Dinghy Show and I came home quite pleased with myself. So came the question of finance. The Mk IIa was sold and so I at least had the money to start. I would worry about the rest later.

And so to the building. The frames and subframe were knocked up out of some old floor boards, which were ideal for the job. Then came the glorious summer and all that hot weather. I was getting slightly tired of not getting anywhere with my boat (meaning it wasn't finished) so I went down to the sailing club where someone offered to lend me their boat for the Summer while they pushed off to the South of France. I took him up on his kind offer and so no building was. done. Shame on me ! When the Summer ended and building commenced things got a move an with the help and nagging of a club mate who had built his previous two Twelves himself. With his help the garboards were fixed in a weekend and in the following weekend another two planks. Then he left it up to me and in three more weeks the whole boat was planked up with the keel also attached. I used stringers in the construction of my boat, on the advice of the designer and various other people but although the weight was increased the shell is extremely tough and with 4" gussets in the bow on each pair of stringers and a solid stem, heaven help anyone on the receiving end ! I used 4 sheets of 8' x 4' and found this was just enough to plank up the hull, make 2 centreplate case sides and also a bow tank/bulkhead.

I became a very good scrounger whilst building my boat as I used to poke my nose in all the local woodyards and rummage through their scrapboxes. At one particular yard I was such a familiar sight that the guard dog bounded up to me with his stick, which was usually teak or oak or some similar expensive hardwood (the dog had good taste !).Once I had made up my mind on building a boat and all the leg pulling was obviously taking no effect, people's opinions changed. Most surprising, to me, was the amount of help offered from all directions.

The interior of the hull is quite clean by comparison with some boats. The case has a 22" wide stiffener around the top and also down the back to the hog. There are also pads glued to the sides of the ply case for the bolt. I used 4mm 4 ply for the decks with Sapele striped finish. An 8 x 5 was ample for my boat which has a vast foredeck and very crescent shaped side decks.
Once the decks were finished I was forced to stop the rest of the procedure to get my boat afloat by the dreaded "A" levels. I didn't really time it too badly as I finished the decks around April-May and took my exams in mid-June, But I think it was more luck than judgment.

I worked it so that I had six weeks at home between leaving school and starting work. In the end this proved only just sufficient as the boat was afloat the weekend prior to starting work and this was working nonstop. The painting took up three weeks in the best painting weather I have experienced-I have a nice tan to prove it-although it was backbreaking work. The boat was measured at the nearby Up River Y.C, and it was trailed back to Broxbourne at 1.30 in the morning in a thunderstorm. A night I know I shan't forget for a long time.Now the boat is afloat and it is very quick, although I still haven't had a true plane! Perhaps it's me but when a gale comes the bows may come out ! But the boat goes fast and results to date (since launching it in August) indicate that the Paper Darts and such are not invincible after all ! So I am pleased with the boat's performance.

The next step would seem to be designing my own boat and 1 would like to desig,n one on lines similar to the Havoc but perhaps in 7 plank clinker. A step backwards ? I think not, as I, personally, think the boat looks a lot more like a boat in clinker fashion. But for now I am satisfied with what I have and so until I suddenly become rich or my boat is sold or falls apart I shall continue to campaign my Havoc.
P.S.-A word of advice to any "would-be" 17 year-old beat builders. Read the title of this article and think twice about building yourself, after all people at that age have many more things to spend their money on outside boats, sails and masts.
This may seem like adverse Class policy in the Twelve fleet but to the individual concerned it may mean the difference between being broke for the duration of the time building until the boat hits the water or being content with your clapped out Mk 12 or Lucky Number, etc.

Paul Rose  
 Nick Gill of Trent Valley S.C. (left) getting down to celebrating his new Cheshire Cat with builder, Nick Cox. The corks were popping as this particular Cat is the 50th to come off the moulds at Impact Boats-the first they built for the designer, Mike Jackson, four years ago, was the forerunner of many very successful winners.
[photo-Dave Eberlin]

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