National 12 history


Racing in the days before kicking straps. Note the crew on 112 acting as a makeshift kicker
 

Racing in the days before kicking straps. Note the crew on 112 acting as a makeshift kicker

We take a look back over 70 years of development
This year the National 12 has reached the venerable age of 70. Over the course of the year the class will be celebrating this fact. The National 12 was introduced to the world at large in 1936 in an attempt to make sailing more accessible for ‘ordinary’ people. In this it certainly managed with the first boats retailing at £45 (roughly the equivalent of £1,980 today.) While today such a boat would certainly be a one design, the National 12 is a development class its measurements and rules adapted and developed over the years. There are some rules that have not changed over time and others that have. Currently on the most basic level –the full class rules are significantly more complex – the boats may be no longer than 3.66m, no wider than 2m, no deeper than 51cm and no lighter than 78kg. Uffa Fox was asked to design the first National 12s. Having drawn a great deal of fast International 14s he was the obvious choice to build the newly created 12 foot dinghy class (the first ever National 12, N1, bellow, is now in the ISCA Maritime Museum at Oulton Broad, Lowestoft). The Uffa-King design proved exceptionally popular and 175 boats were built in the first year alone, a number that would be very difficult for any design to reach in its first year these days. In 1936, the same year that the boat was launched, the first National 12 National Championship took place in Poole Harbour. It was here that the Burton Cup was first awarded to the winner of the National Championship, Sir William Burton. The Burton Cup is still awarded to the winner of the National Championship to this day. In 1938 a new design came from Dick Wyche called the Wrath. This had flatter

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