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National 12 85th Anniversary Event at Northampton Sailing Club

by George Finch 17 Sep 2021 13:58 BST 11-12 September 2021

On 12th March 1936, the National 12 Class was born and this weekend the National Twelve Owners' Association celebrated the class's rich and varied 85 year history. Just two weeks after 2021's Burton Week, it was a big ask for the competitors to dedicate yet another weekend to National 12 sailing.

However, from Friday evening, competitors began to arrive at Northampton Sailing Club for a weekend of racing but also celebrating the National 12. A briefing at 11am, with first race scheduled for 12pm gave a lot of time for catching up, enjoying the excellent catering on offer at Northampton and for some, rigging their National 12 for the first time in a few years. It is amazing what people keep in their garages!

Saturday 11th - National 12 85th Event Fleet Racing

Race 1

The fleet of 30 National 12s launched on time, in 10kts of breeze and occasional sunshine. The countdown for the first race began promptly, although before the 1-minute gun it was looking likely there was going to be a general recall, which there promptly was. Up came the black flag at 4 minutes and the fleet got away.

Clear air on the start was required and for this beat, heading left seemed to pay off. A lot of boats approached the windward mark at the same time, trying to get clear air for the next reaching leg was hard. A gybe onto a tighter reach was very exciting, with a few stronger gusts really making N12s of all ages fly. Antony and Rory Gifford (N3529) showed excellent speed and were leading, followed by Ian and Alex Gore (N3525), with Jon Ibbotson and Rachel Smith in 3rd (N3540). The fleet spread out a bit with the reaching legs, but racing was close for all. Upwind on the 2nd lap Graham and Felix Camm (N3530) had a very rare near capsize, which was well recovered but allowed the top 3 N12s to get further ahead.

Mary Henderson (crewed by Jo Sallis) was borrowing a different N12 (N3527) for this event although showed great speed in this race, managing to beat current National Champions Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) but perhaps more importantly her parents - Will & Mandy Henderson. They were borrowing N3551 for the weekend, after a 20 year break from National 12 sailing. George & Lucy Finch, who own N3551 but for this event sailing their older N12, 3513 were also pleased to overtake Will & Mandy in N3551 on the last lap of this race, to finish 7th - and 1st non T-Foil N12.

Antony & Rory Gifford (N3529) kept their lead to the finish, followed by Ian & Alex Gore (N3525) and Jon Ibbotson & Rachel Smith (N3540) in 3rd.

1st Admirals Cup 'Era' Boat was James & Jo Gifford, in N3348 (Design 8)
1st Vintage boat was John & Cat Sears in N1903 (Mark 9).

Race 2

A big shift just before the start (under black flag) saw the majority of the fleet tack away onto port just after the gun. With more of the fleet now confident and on the line, clear air was difficult to find, but the usual suspects crept out in front. Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) were back in the groove and had fantastic boat speed during this race. With a bit more breeze in this race, there was strong competition all the way through the fleet which kept the racing interesting. By the finish, Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) crossed the line 1st, followed by Jon Ibbotson & Rachel Smith (N3540), Ian & Alex Gore (N3525) in 3rd, with John Meadowcroft & Anya Camm (N3543) in 4th.

An impressive performance again from James & Jo Gifford (N3348) saw them finish in 9th, being the 1st U21, 1st Admirals Cup and 1st Non T-Foil boat.

1st Vintage was John & Cat Sears (N1903).

Race 3

A few powerful gusts before the start of Race 3 saw some sailors take a quick dip in the lake before the start. Again, under a black flag, the fleet started their final race of the day. Iain Macintyre (crewed by Maria Franco) in N3519 were sailing well with great boat speed, only to be told at the windward mark they had been black flagged. It was Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) at the windward mark first, but close behind in 3rd was James & Jo Gifford (N3348), very impressive. Behind the top 5 boats there was a complete mix of designs which made the reaches and gybes interesting!

In this race, Paul & Izzy Keeling (N3285), at their first National 12 event, showed impressive speed for their Design 8 and the class looks forward to seeing them at future events.

By the 3rd lap, the fleet had spread out and Tom & Isobel Stewart in N3544 took the win. 2nd went to Jon Ibbotson & Rachel Smith (N3540), followed in 3rd by Antony & Rory Gifford (N3529).

Again, finishing in an impressive 8th was James & Jo Gifford in N3348 and with that, 1st U21 Helm, 1st Admirals Cup and 1st Non T-foil.

1st Vintage in Race 3 was Philip David, crewed by Emma Hampshire in N2545.

As the fleet headed to the shore, they were greeted by a fly past from The Red Arrows. It isn't clear if this was arranged by the N12 Class or Northampton Sailing Club, but it was a nice touch. Boat owners had been instructed to bring their boats to the lawn outside the clubhouse for the 85th Anniversary Concours D'Elegance.

Full Results from Saturday's Fleet Racing:

PosHelmCrewSail NoBoat NameDesignClubR1R2R3Pts
1Tom StewartIsobel Stewart3544WhitebaitDead Cat BounceRoyal Harwich YC[5]112
2Anthony GiffordRory Gifford3529Cat In The HatDead Cat BounceRoyal Tay YC1[3]34
3Jon IbbotsonRachel Smith3540Atomic KittenDead Cat BounceBurghfield SC[3]224
4Ian GoreAlex Gore3525MogDead Cat BounceUp River YC2[5]46
5Graham CammFelix Camm3530Very Hungry CaterpillarDead Cat BounceBurghfield SC4[6]59
6John MeadowcroftAnya Camm3543D.B. CooperHijackUpper Thames SC[8]4610
7Mary HendersonJo Sallis3527SnagglepussDead Cat BounceBrightlingsea SC6[7]713
8James GiffordJo Gifford3348Charlotte AnneDesign 8Royal Tay YC[12]9817
9Will HendersonMandy Henderson3551Over The RainbowDead Cat BounceSalcombe YC[9]8917
10George FinchLucy Finch3513Silver LiningFeeling FoolishRoyal Harwich YC7[11]1118
11Amicia HopkinsDavid Moore3447Fruit & NuttyFinal ChapterSwarkestone SC10[14]1020
12Steve CarverTanya Copsey3538Glass and a Half FullFeeling FoolishUEA SC1110[14]21
13Kevin IlesKaty Meadowcroft3373Sixth ElementBaggy TrousersWest Oxfordshire SC[25]131225
14Paul PellingIan Simkins3251BiancaCrusaderUp River YCC1412[15]26
15Tim HampshireChristopher Hampshire3502CarbonaraBig Issue 2Ripon SC13[15]1326
16Neal LillywhiteFreya Lillywhite3271IndecisionDesign 8Burghfield SC15[17]1732
17Paul KeelingIzzy Keeling3285Magic DragonDesign 8Blithfield SC17[18]1633
18Robert StewartCharlotte Stewart3431ZippyFeeling FoolishWaldringfield SC[20]191837
19Christopher TrothEva Nygard2993BouncerBouncerOlton Mere SC18[22]1937
20John SearsCatherine Sears1903Slick ChickMark 9Notts County SC1920[21]39
21Pete MiattOlivia Miatt2589Mary DeareWhisper 4Carsington SC16[24]2440
22Philip DavidEmma Hampshire2545Little MegChina DollYorkshire Ouse SC[30 RET]212041
23Nigel WallerRosie Gore326Rose MarieUffa KingRoyal Harwich YC21[25]2344
24Iain MacintyreMaria Franco3519Dead Cat BounceDead Cat BounceLoch Tummel SC[30 RET]16OCS45
25Stuart WalshTheo Covi‑Walsh3546Shades of GreyDead Cat BounceArdleigh SC[23]232245
26Sam ParrettBertie Parrett3198IncaBaggy TrousersSt Edmundsbury SCA24[26]2549
27Ian NormanLouis Norman3107ZarniwoopTigressTrent Valley SC22RET[31 DSQ]52
28Alan MasonLesley Iles1607DillyDallyMark 4aRedesmere SC2627[29 RET]54
29Richard ChapmanTom Chapman3393Good From Far Far From GoodFinal ChapterCransley SC28[29]2654
30Graham MiattJack Gore3448Steady TigerFeeling FoolishGrafham Water SC2728[29 RET]55
31Paul BristowRichard Willets2123PerplexitySparkletBurghfield SC[31 DNC]DNCDNC62
31Rod Andrew‑BeckerJo Andrew‑Becker3109GnasherPipedreamSNLH[31 DNC]DNCDNC62
31Simon HipkinEmily Hipkin3322Soap DishSoap DishWalton and Frinton YC[31 DNC]DNCDNC62
31Rory HallasBradley Hallas3347AtreidesCrusader 88Broadwater SC[31 DNC]DNCDNC62

1st 'Admirals Cup Era' Boat and 1st Under 21 - James & Jo Gifford, N3348, Design 8.
1st 'Double Floor Non T-Foil Era' Boat - George and Lucy Finch, N3513, Feeling Foolish.
1st Vintage Boat - John & Cat Sears, N1903, Mark 9.
1st First Dinghy Shack Series Event - Paul & Izzy Keeling, N3285, Design 8.

Saturday 11th - Concours D'Elegance

Will Henderson with 4 Burton Cup wins as Helm and Mandy Henderson, who was Will's crew for two of them, were asked by the N12 Class to judge this event's Concours D'Elegance. As the photos show, it was a great sight, with the afternoon sun shining the boats, which ranges from the whole 85 years of the class.

All the boats looked great, but Will and Mandy's short list focused mainly on the wooden National 12s on display:

N1 'Gipsy' was proudly rigged with sails up and a few original looking fittings, although a well-placed screwdriver was being used as a mast pin, so knocked it out of the short list (had the screwdriver been from 1936, this might have been different!).

N3546 'Shades of Grey' was in contention, a wooden, single floored, '4 plank' Dead Cat Bounce. Built by Simon Hipkin in 2016, this N12 is at the newer end of the class but has a very classic feel. Having recently returned from Burton Week, it was not quite in Concours condition but is an excellent example of a knee friendly, fully competitive modern National 12!

N3271 'Indecision' was as always in stunning condition and is a unique National 12, the only wooden Design 8.

N3521 'Bianca' - Lovingly cared for since new by Paul Pelling and never restored, with little use in recent years, this Crusader built by Alan Jackson was in strong contention for the Concours prize. She looked stunning in the afternoon sun and was well placed with classic Ullman Sails rigged.

N3107 'Zarniwoop' - Owned since new by Ian Norman and well cared for, with occasional work undertaken by P&B and now sporting a shiny carbon rig, this Tigress from 1980 was declared the winner of the 85th Anniversary Concours D'Elegance. The varnished decks looked fantastic, and the subtle rigging upgrades made the boat really encompass what this weekend was about. Ian Norman, as owner of N3107 was presented with a bottle of Champagne for winning.

Saturday 11th - N12 Auction & 85th Birthday Cake

Several items had kindly been donated to the class to auction, and bids were placed either in advance via email or on the day in person. Any items which did not receive bids were then auctioned off 'live'. With lots ranging from books to sails, masts to complete National 12s, nearly everything found a new owner with proceeds heading to the class. Thanks again to all those who donated items, and to those who bided!

To add to the 7 Burton Cup winners seen sailing or walking about the dinghy park at Northampton, the class had invited Michael Jackson to cut the 85th Birthday Cake.

Mike's involvement in the class began before 1950s and his first design was the 'Lucia' in 1957 - N1516. From 1957, Mike built on his experiences and designed the March Hare (1962), Impact (1970), Cheshire Cat (1973), Tiger (1978), Tigress (1980), Gryphon (1983) and Final Chapter (1987). Outside of the N12 Class, Mike also designed the Lark, 404 and a few Merlin Rockets.

N.T.O.A. Chair invited Mike to give a short speech before cutting the cake, where Mike described his thought process behind the Lucia and March Hare designs, which ultimately moved the class on from the 'Uffa King' style N12s.

After the cake was cut, the class enjoyed an evening at the bar, reminiscing about the past 85 years!

Sunday 12th - Mary Deare 85th Grand Pursuit Race

The forecast for Sunday had always looked a bit wobbly, with 8kts at the optimistic end and 1kts at the pessimistic end. With this in mind, Graham Camm and a few helpers set the timings for Sunday's pursuit race. 1st to start would be Nigel Waller, crewed by Rosie Gore in N326 - an Uffa King from 1938. Nigel had won the 70th Pursuit in Punkarella (N3012) and the 75th Pursuit in Rose Marie (N326) - could he go for 3 wins from 3? A likely contender to challenge this was John and Cat Sears (N1903) who would start 4 minutes later than Nigel and Rosie.

On the day, the wind was very light, and the race team postponed for 30 minutes. Nevertheless, with occasional zephyrs and some breeze across Pitsford Reservoir, the first boats launched. The arrival of Simon & Emily Hipkin with N3322 'Soapdish' had raised a few eyebrows - an iconic N12 as it was the first 'almost self-draining' N12 but is well known for not going very fast - especially in light winds!

The race was to be 100 minutes long for the first boat, with the Dead Cat Bounces & Hijack starting 20 minutes after the Uffa King (21 minutes for Graham Camm and Tom Stewart). At times it looked like most of the Admirals Cup / Modern / T-Foil boats wouldn't make the start, but some well-timed zephyrs aided everyone to the start. It was a struggle and at times very painful, but slowly the 30 or so National 12s drifted up the first beat, onto the first reach. Nigel Waller and Rosie Gore (N326) kept their lead and rounded Mark 3 (the gybe mark). John & Cat Sears (N1903) were next, although had a lot of ground still to cover to catch the leading boat.

A few "strong" gusts (max 6 knots) bunched a lot of the fleet at the gybe mark, although only 4 of the Dead Cat Bounces made it round before the wind dropped again. Jon Ibbotson & Rachel Smith (N3540) and Graham & Felix Camm (N3530) took a few places here.

Some darker clouds on the horizon looked to bring rain, but hopefully some wind. They brought neither, perhaps cancelling the wind all together. It was a complete drifter at this point, with one or two place changes. The two leading boats were now getting closer and 85 minutes in, John & Cat Sears (N1903) used a well-timed mark rounding to take the lead. Could they hold it for 15 minutes?

The finish gun went, and all the fleet were relieved. It had been a struggle, but John & Cat Sears (N1903) prevailed and won the 85th Mary Deare Pursuit Race. N1903 will now join those boats of notable achievement which receive a red rosette against their name on the N12 Online boat database!

Overall Results from the Mary Deare 85th Grand Pursuit Race:

PosHelmCrewSail NoBoat NameDesignClubR1Pts
1John SearsCatherine Sears1903Slick ChickMark 9Notts County SC11
2Nigel WallerRosie Gore326Rose MarieUffa KingRoyal Harwich YC22
3Antony GiffordRory Gifford3348Charlotte AnneDesign 8Royal Tay YC33
4Christopher TrothEva Nygard2993BouncerBouncerOlton Mere SC44
5Ian NormanLouis Norman3107ZarniwoopTigressTrent Valley SC55
6Philip DavidEmma Hampshire2545Little MegChina DollYorkshire Ouse SC66
7Jon IbbotsonRachel Smith3540Atomic KittenDead Cat BounceBurghfield SC77
8Pete MiattOlivia Miatt2589Mary DeareWhisper 4Carsington SC88
9Kevin IlesKaty Meadowcroft3373Sixth ElementBaggy TrousersWest Oxfordshire SC99
10Graham CammFelix Camm3530Very Hungry CaterpillarDead Cat BounceBurghfield SC1010
11George FinchLucy Finch3513Silver LiningFeeling FoolishRoyal Harwich YC1111
12Amicia HopkinsDavid Moore3447Fruit & NuttyFinal ChapterSwarkestone SC1212
13Ian GoreAlex Gore3525MogDead Cat BounceUp River YC1313
14Tom StewartIsobel Stewart3544WhitebaitDead Cat BounceRoyal Harwich YC1414
15Tim HampshireChristopher Hampshire3502CarbonaraBig Issue 2Ripon SC1515
16Mary HendersonJo Sallis3527SnagglepussDead Cat BounceBrightlingsea SC1616
17Sam ParrettBertie Parrett3198IncaBaggy TrousersSt Edmundsbury SCA1717
18James GiffordJo Gifford3529Cat In The HatDead Cat BounceRoyal Tay YC1818
19Robert StewartCharlotte Stewart3431ZippyFeeling FoolishWaldringfield SC1919
20Stewart MiattJack Gore3448Steady TigerFeeling FoolishGrafham Water SC2020
21Steve CarverTanya Copsey3538Glass and a Half FullFeeling FoolishUEA SC2121
22Stuart WalshTheo Covi‑Walsh3546Shades of GreyDead Cat BounceArdleigh SC2222
23Iain MacintyreMaria Franco3519Dead Cat BounceDead Cat BounceLoch Tummel SC2323
24Richard ChapmanTom Chapman3393Good From Far Far From GoodFinal ChapterCransley SC2424
25Simon HipkinEmily Hipkin3322Soap DishSoap DishWalton & Frinton YC2525
26John MeadowcroftAnya Camm3543D.B. CooperHijackUpper Thames SCRET26
26Will HendersonMandy Henderson3551Over The RainbowDead Cat BounceSalcombe Yacht ClubRET26
26Neal LillywhiteFreya Lillywhite3271IndecisionDesign 8Burghfield SCRET26
27Paul PellingIan Simkins3251BiancaCrusaderUp River YCDNC27
27Paul KeelingIzzy Keeling3285Magic DragonDesign 8Blithfield SCDNC27
27Alan MasonLesley Iles1607DillyDallyMark 4aRedesmere SCDNC27
27Paul BristowRichard Willets2123PerplexitySparkletBurghfield SCDNC27
27Rod Andrew‑BeckerJo Andrew‑Becker3109GnasherPipedreamSNLHDNC27
27Rory HallasBradley Hallas3347AtreidesCrusader 88Broadwater SCDNC27

1st - John & Cat Sears, N1903, Mark 9 (This boat was John's first National 12, he bought her in 1968 and then re-bought and restored her in 2014).
2nd - Nigel Waller and Rosie Gore, N326, Uffa King.
3rd and 1st 'Admirals Cup 'Era' - Antony and Rory Gifford, N3348, Design 8.
4th - Chris Troth and Eva Nygard, N2993, Bouncer.

1st 'T-Foil Era' boat - Jon Ibbotson and Rachel Smith, N3540, Dead Cat Bounce. 7th Overall.
1st 'Double Floor, non-T-Foil Era' boat - George and Lucy Finch, N3513, Feeling Foolish. 11th Overall.

1st U21 - James and Jo Gifford, N3529. Dead Cat Bounce. 18th Overall.

There had been plans for a junior race in the early afternoon, but with the lack of wind it was decided to cancel this in favour of packing up boats, enjoying lunch in the clubhouse and getting the prize-giving under way. In usual N12 fashion it was conducted flawlessly by the ever-vehement Michael Brookman.

Within the event, the class hosted the two Vintage Championships events, full results:

Vintage Championships (Saturday) for "The Gill Half Model Trophy":

PosHelmCrewSail NoBoat NameDesignClubR1R2R3Pts
1John SearsCatherine Sears1903Slick ChickMark 9Notts County SC11[2]2
2Philip DavidEmma Hampshire2545Little MegChina DollYorkshire Ouse SC[4 RET]213
3Nigel WallerRosie Gore326Rose MarieUffa KingRoyal Harwich YC2[3]35
4Alan MasonLesley Iles1607DillyDallyMark 4aRedesmere SC24[4 RET]6
5Paul BristowRichard Willets2123PerplexitySparkletBurghfield SC[5 DNC]DNCDNC10

Derwent Handicap Vintage Pursuit Race (Sunday) for "The J&T Hancock Trophy":

PosHelmCrewSail NoBoat NameDesignClubR1Pts
1John SearsCatherine Sears1903Slick ChickMark 9Notts County SC11
2Nigel WallerRosie Gore326Rose MarieUffa KingRoyal Harwich YC22
3Philip DavidEmma Hampshire2545Little MegChina DollYorkshire Ouse SC33
4Alan MasonLesley Iles1607DillyDallyMark 4aRedesmere SCDNC5
4Paul BristowRichard Willets2123PerplexitySparkletBurghfield SCDNC5

All competitors came away from the weekend smiling. It didn't matter if it was your first N12 event, your first time crewing a N12 or if you were a seasoned N12 sailor. It was certainly worth the effort that both Northampton Sailing Club and the National Twelve Owners' Association put in to make it happen, despite the backdrop of Covid-19. A true celebration of the National 12 class.

If you missed out on the merchandise, the 85th Anniversary clothing is still available to order online - http://www.waveclothing.co.uk/association-kit/national-12-owners-association/85th-anniversary-clothing.

Photos from the event are available:

The N12 class continues to remain popular, with several National 12s changing hands last week. There are always possibilities to borrow boats, upgrade current boats and the class continues to have options for new boats to be built.

The class will now head to Yorkshire Ouse (19th September), Henley SC (26th September) and Twickenham (10th October) for some river sailing with the next Dinghy Shack Series at Ripon Sailing Club on 2nd October and the Dinghy Shack Finale and Inland Championships at Northampton Sailing Club on 6th & 7th November.

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