A total of 80 boats turned out to celebrate the class 70th birthday at Northampton last weekend 1/6/06

The National 12s celebrated their 70th birthday with a full three days of sailing last weekend at Northampton Sailing Club. Nearly 80 boats from all eras took part in the programme which included vintage racing, Gill series races and junior racing. The weekend culminated in a Grand pursuit race with the oldest boats setting off first.

Gill series
Four races for the Gill series were held over the Saturday and Sunday of the regatta weekend. With such a large fleet, a good start proved to be critical. To get the fleet away cleanly, the race officer set a port biased line. Tom Stewart and Liz Ross dominated the weekend with two perfectly timed pin end starts which gave them two easy wins.
In race three, Steve Adshead crewed by son Robbie sailed through the fleet to pull out a clear lead. In race four, Stewart and Ross had a harder ride and had to fight to pull through to first place and take the open meeting.

John and Katy Meadowcroft sailed a consistent series to take second place. The first Admiral’s Cup boat was former Burton Cup winners Steve Norbury and Andy Hill, sailing their old boat N3373 ‘Sixth Element’.

Gill series results
1 3501, Tom Stewart and Liz Ross
2 3473, John and Katy Meadowcroft
3 3449, Steve and Robbie Adshead
4 3484, Antony and Jo Gifford
5 3450, Richard Williams and Stella Brown
6 3483, Jon Brown and George Hand

Vintage Racing
A total of 16 Vintage 12s took part in the vintage series. In the first race, Howard and Sarah Chadwick in Triarda recovered from an indifferent start to win the Vintage fleet. Brian and George Kitching in ‘Just Lucky’ demonstrated their potential by taking second place. Vince and Fiona Phillips in ‘Invasion 2’ arrived just before the second race and proceeded to sweep to a clear lead and win. In second place catching up fast were the Kitchings.

On the Sunday the vintage fleet started five minutes after the main fleet and conducted two handicap races based on the PY numbers in the class handbook. In a Force 3-4 with exciting planning reaches, Vince and Fiona Phillips established a substantial lead which they held to the end, also winning on handicap. Second on handicap were Howard and Philip Steavenson, son and grandson of the late legendary Robin Steavenson, sailing Robin’s famous prototype glued ply 1953 Witchcraft.

In the final race, the Phillips and the Steavensons were again 1st and 2nd on handicap maintaining those positions in the final results.

Vintage results
Vintage Saturday
1 2266, Howard and Sarah Chadwick
2 1657, Brian and George Kitching

Vintage Sunday
1 2531, Vince and Fiona Phillips
2 1153, Howard and Phillip Steavenson

Junior championships
The Junior championships were held on the Sunday afternoon of the regatta. Three short races were run back-to-back in a sunny, if a little shifty, Force 3. The gusty conditions resulted in a few capsizes, especially on the gybes. Nathan Harding crewed by Lucy Horsley and George Hand crewed by Tom Barford had a close battle during all the races, with Harding eventually winning overall.

Junior results
1 3493, Nathan Harding and Lucy Horsley
2 3483, George Hand and Tom Barford
3 3276, Harry Turner and Tom Woodhouse

Grand Pursuit Race
After some careful handicap calculation, the Grand Pursuit race started on the Bank Holiday Monday in a good Force 4, using the whole length of Pitsford Reservoir for the course.

There was a total of 21 minutes between the first starter (N153, first winner of the Burton Cup) and the last starter (N3501, Tom Stewart, multiple winner of the Burton). The sight of nearly 70 National 12s on the water was spectacular, ranging from lovingly varnished clinker vintage boats to the latest gleaming carbonfibre racing machines.

N153 ‘Witch’, the oldest boat in the fleet, helmed by the oldest helmsman in the fleet, 70-something Brian Miatt, kept the lead for the first 55 minutes of the 2 hour race.

After some squally weather, which caused some spectacular capsizing down the reaches by some of the chasing boats, she was gradually overhauled by another vintage boat, N1657, sailed by father/son team Brian and George Kitching. The Kitchings kept the lead for a further 20 minutes before being overtaken by Nigel Waller in N3012 ‘Punkarella’, who went on to retain the lead to the end.

Waller designed and built ‘Punkarella’ in 1977 and sailed her to victory in the Burton Cup in 1978. Prior to the weekend, Waller had been desperately looking for ‘Punkarella’ in order to sail her at the anniversary regatta and eventually located her in a chicken shed in Wales. He retrieved her and spent Sunday tuning her to perfection.

In second place was Admiral’s Cupper ‘Rebel’, sailed by father/daughter team John and Alison Cheetham.

Ultra-modern double-bottomed ‘Monkey Business’, sailed by Jon Ibbotson and Charlotte Stewart, managed to overcome their 18 minute handicap to take third place, with the Kitchings managing to hang on to fourth place.

With two Admirals’ Cup, one vintage and one double-bottomed boat in the top four spots, the handicapping proved to be just about right for the conditions and a great time was had by all.

Pursuit race results
1 3012, Nigel Waller and Tom Barford (1st non double bottom)
2 3209, John and Alison Cheetham
3 3494, Jon Ibbotson and Charlotte Stewart (1st Double Bottom)
4 1657, Brian and George Kitchin (1st Vintage)
5 3491, Kevin and Lindsay Iles
6 3362, Chris and Alison Edwards

The National 12 class would like to thank Gill, European Events, Alverbanks and P&B who sponsored the regatta.

70 years of development, 12 feet of perfection.