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International 12 Celebration Regatta at West Kirby Sailing Club - Day 1

by Dougal@davidhenshallmedia 28 Jun 2013 16:51 BST 28-30 June 2013
International 12s going afloat for the Celebration Regatta at West Kirby. The majority of the entrants are modern takes on the old design but Number 1 is a true 'Dreadnaught', a true centenarian. © Dougal@davidhenshallmedia

Over the past few year there have been a number of significant milestone 'anniversaries' for various dinghies, but at West Kirby SC over this weekend they are celebrating something special. 100 years ago this week the first regatta was held for what was known locally as the 'Dreadnaught' Class. This 12ft open dinghy, designed by George Cockshott, would go on to become the International 12, which though not a popular class in UK terms, remains strong across Europe and as far away as Canada and Japan.

For the opening day of the Celebration Regatta the breeze was cool and brisk and the skies leaden and grey, but the majority of the fleet still went afloat for the first of two races out on the Marine Lake. One of the boats competing was an original 'Dreadnaught', which must surely be setting something of a record, as there cannot be many singlehanders where the combined age of boat and helm exceeds 160! Amongst the spectators on shore was 89 year old Cynthia 'Twink' Bibbington, from the host club, who more than 50 years ago had raced International 12s at West Kirby.

Yet it would be a huge mistake to think that the event was all about things old and elderly, for the majority of the boats, which had made the long haul to the North West from all across Europe, were more than a little competitive. Their keenness to get away put Race Officer Adam Whittle and his team under some pressure with the regatta starting with a General Recall. By the time the fleet was ready to start again, the rain had arrived reducing visibility further, but despite the conditions the fleet was enjoying their sailing and were no doubt looking forwards to getting back to the warm welcome in the West Kirby clubhouse.

The programme for the Regatta includes three full days of sailing and social events, with the high spot being the Celebration Dinner that will be attended by designer Cockshott's grandson and grand-daughter.

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