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The Pacer: The End of an Era

by Tom Marks 7 Oct 2012 19:32 BST 20 September 2012
The UK Pacer Class Association officially dissolves © Studio 77, Southend-on-Sea

The UK Pacer Class Association officially dissolves

It is with regret to announce that the UK Pacer Class Association is to officially dissolve as of Thursday 20th September 2012.

Polycell Prout began business with the introduction of the tiny Puffin dinghy in 1967. On the strength of the Puffin, the firm decided to introduce a follow on boat, the Puffin Pacer. As the new boat was to have a spritely performance they called on the expertise of Jack Holt for a design.

The Pacer, formerly known as the Puffin Pacer, was first commissioned by Polycell Prout in 1967, who asked designer Jack Holt to design a 'pretty yacht for use by families'.

The new dinghy had to take advantage of the Polycell Prout production line system to produce a really cheap package deal kit, or completed boat.

The concept and design proved to be one of the most successful of Jack Holt's and soon spread internationally, being sailed in India, Holland, Canada and Australia. In the UK alone there were over 2400 built.

The simple plywood kit build design of the Pacer was an instant hit with the inaugural UK National Championships, held at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club in 1969.

The name was changed in the UK in the early 1970s, with the 'Puffin' being dropped, however Australia continued to use the name until 1989.

The Pacer continued to be popular for a number of years, with around 30 boats regularly attending the National Championships, and one record year having 60+ boats.

The Pacer was, and continues to be, a popular boat with team racing clubs, especially in Australia. Its light, but stable, hull makes it very maneuverable, which makes it a very good boat for team racing. The class has gone from strength to strength down under, where the boat is now built in glass fibre and sports white sails rather than the traditional dark blue 'working sails' of the UK breed.

Towards the end of the 90's UK Pacer numbers began to dwindle with newer dinghy designs now available; and its main rival, the Miracle, growing in numbers. At the final National Championships in 2007 only a handful of boats attended.

Due to diminishing attendance it was decided that the Class Association should consider dissolving due to the lack of active members. After much debate, and even offering the Pacer moulds to multiple boat builders in an attempt to regenerate the class, it was clear that the days of the Pacer as a competitive, popular, two person dinghy were over.

The final meeting of the UK Pacer Class Association and Winding-Up Committee was held on the Thursday 20th September, and now ceases to exist. All funds remaining in Association bank accounts will be donated to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Although this is the end of the UK Pacer Class Association, it is far from the end for Pacers. There are still a number of Pacers being sailed at clubs in the UK, and the Australian circuit continues to go from strength to strength. The UK Class Association would like to wish all Pacer sailors, past and present, the best with their future sailing.

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