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Displaying items by tag: National 18

National 18 dinghy D’Good, D’Bad and D’Blaster sailed by Ewen Barry, Stanley Browne and Dion Barrett was the winner of the nine boat Ultra division of the Irish class championships at Royal Cork YC on six points after five races sailed. Three points behind Second was Aquadisiacs skippered by Colin Chapman with Morgan O’Sullivan and Aaron Walsh with 50 Shades (Nick Walsh, Rob Brownlow and Eddie Rice) third.

Four boats raced in the Ultimate division, with Stephen O'Shaughnessy's Virtual Reality

Published in National 18
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At an Extraordinary General Meeting held at the Royal Cork Yacht Club on Saturday 27 February, the National 18 Class voted in a number of rule changes that modernise the mainsail for the new Morrison designed 18 and increase the spinnaker size for the class too.

The changes complete a modernisation process that began at the National 18 AGM in Findhorn in 2012, after which Phil Morrison was asked to design a new hull, a prototype was funded by members of the class and then extensively trialed.

The new design was approved in July 2014 and White Formula appointed as builder in the autumn of that year. The first boat was completed in time for the 2015 RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show and eleven new boats were on the water by the time of the 2015 National Championship. As well as enjoying great class racing the new National 18s have been putting in some excellent results at multi-class events, including great results in the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series 2015/16.

For the 2016 season at least 17 of the new Morrison boats will be racing and the introduction of the updated mainsail and spinnaker for this season will further enhance an already very successful new design. The new mainsail incorporates a broad head and laminate materials with a full length top batten. The new spinnaker is increased in overall size by 25%, bringing it to 21 sq metres total, and in addition twin spinnaker pole systems will be allowed.

The National 18 will be on show again at the 2016 edition of the RYA Suzuki Dinghy show, which takes place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 March. The boat to be displayed on on stand B36 is a brand new build for Julian Berney of Blackwater Sailing Club, which will be formally named at the show at 14.30 on Saturday afternoon.

If you are visiting the show do come along and take a look at this latest addition to the National 18 Class and speak with a member of the fleet about the boats and the opportunities for trial sailing and purchase. A limited number of new boats are still available for delivery for the 2016 Championship which will be held at Findhorn, Scotland, from 1 to 5 August. The price for a new "ready to race" National 18 is £16,995 including VAT and those placing orders at the RYA Suzuki Dingy Show will receive a free trolley with colour matched bunks.

Published in National 18
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The National 18 dinghy class will hold an extraordinary general meeting on Saturday, 27th February at Royal Cork Yacht Club to vote on three new proposals for the three man centreboarder.

The first proposal seeks approval to allow Morrison division National 18’s to carry mainsail aligned to modern design and construction materials. The new mainsail can be made in either Dacron or HMPE/aramid fibre laminate.

Full details of the egm are carried in a notice downloadable below. 

Published in National 18

The recently-published ISA Survey of Club Racing commissioned and supervised by Board Member Jack Roy has started the process of putting together a realistic picture of how we sail and go afloat for recreation, and it was analysed on publication here in Afloat.ie.

It’s logical to have made the beginning with club racing, as racing provides its own narrative and a straightforward set of entry numbers and results. But it will become more complex as the national authority tries to provide realistic figures for day sailing’s less competitive aspects. And of course, once we enter the world of cruising as defined by sailing and boating projects which include passage making, both coastal and offshore, together with overnight on-board stops, then it can become much more difficult to get meaningful data.

Yet with the ISA’s Cruising Conference for February 20th already booked out within a few days of being announced on Afloat.ie, clearly that is an area in search of services and support, a section of sailing which is difficult to quantify yet obviously of strong interest to a significant number of boat enthusiasts. W M Nixon takes a look at how the complexity of our sport’s many specialities makes it difficult to provide a clearcut picture for possible recruits to sailing.

Where would we be without the International Optimist Dinghy? The little solo-sailing boxes and their attendant support teams of mum and dad and the dog and the old 4X4 or station wagon or people carrier or whatever may seem to take up an awful lot of space and time, and all just so that one little person can go sailing.

But at least that one little person does go sailing. The ISA figures are brutally straightforward. In terms of genuine turnouts afloat at clubs throughout Ireland, in boat numbers the active Optimists are exceeded only by the Lasers, and this is arguably because Lasers aren’t age-limited, whereas the Optimists most definitely are.

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Optimist airborne. This is Ireland's second most popular class

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Ireland’s most popular dinghy class, the Laser is seen here at the Zhik Irish Nationals at Ballyholme

So we give a qualified cheer for the success of these two little boats. But it’s qualified because they’re single-handers which fail to provide any crew-relating sailing skills. Leading sailing figures as diverse as Des McWilliam of Crosshaven and Norman Lee of Greystones have been eloquent in promoting the notion that we should be doing more – much more – to encourage two-handed boats, and if we can persuade people into three-handed boats, well, so much the better.

Certainly that’s one of the reasons why our header photo says so much. A lone sailor in an Optimist or Laser promotes too much of a solitary, even an isolated image. And a two-handed boat like the GP 14, whose strong fleet figures in the ISA survey show the class’s vigour, is arguably just an act for a dynamic duo – it’s Strictly Come Dancing goes sailing…..

But getting three together to race a characterful boat like the National 18 with style – now that’s something special, that really is a superb combination of people skills interacting with sailing talent. And it’s a joy to behold. Yet anyone can see that for a complete beginner to sailing, this extraordinary silhouette of Tommy Dwyer’s National 18 against the November sky above the Hill of Howth will have an otherworldly air about it – “That’s not for me” is as likely a response as “Let’s have a go at that”.

Even those of us who have been in sailing for longer than we care to remember find the image decidedly thought-provoking, for we have some idea of what has been involved in creating the circumstances for this seemingly effortless balancing act, this lighter-than-air effect in the unlikely setting of a November afternoon.

Over the past year or so we have been recounting in Afloat,ie how the Cork Harbour National 18 Class, with very tangible backing from the Royal Cork Yacht Club, have been in the forefront of the development of the new ground-breaking Phil Morrison take on the long-established National 18, which is a developmental class which from time to time takes a leap in hull design, and moves forward in order to keep the spirit alive.

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The National 18s are part of the fabric of Cork Harbour sailing. Before the new Morrison boats arrived in July, the old fleet were seen here in May 2015 after their annual race to Ballinacurra in northeast Cork Harbour in company with the Dwyer brothers’ cruising ketch. Photo: W M Nixon

Acceptance of this is something which seems to be bred into Cork’s National 18 enthusiasts, many of whom have the advantage of being firmly of the opinion that a proper dinghy needs three people to sail it. But the social matrix which has built up around Cork Harbour over many decades with this concept at its heart is not something which will necessarily travel easily to other areas, and although the six boats of the National 18 flotilla which visited Howth for the Open Day got a great reception and gave many people from other classes a marvellous time afloat, it’s probable that the very different mood around sailing in Dublin means that something so technically and socially challenging as a three man dinghy is a step too far.

Sailing in the greater Dublin area seems to exist within a framework of independent balloons. While there are those who will happily move from one boat type to another and cheerfully spread their talents and enjoyment about, by contrast there’s the Dublin Bay Sailing Club Thursday Evening Phenomenon.

Thursday is when the DBSC cruiser classes go out to race. And there’s an entire cohort of people, mostly folk who work in offices in the city, who on a Thursday evening go straight to Dun Laoghaire, get aboard a pontoon-based cruiser owned by someone else, go out and race in some very specific crewing job, then come back in and have supper in club or pub with their shipmates, and then that’s it until next Thursday. Just one evening each summer mid-week is their entire sailing programme. Weekends are for something else. And as for the hassle and mixed joys of boat ownership and maintenance, that’s not their department at all.

It’s a very metropolitan, very citified yet specialized way of doing things, and Dublin is one of the very few cities whose location facilitates it. It will be fascinating to measure it, for Dublin’s way of sailing is steeped in history and tradition. But for now it’s refreshing to look at a place which has had a sailing tradition in times past, but somehow lost it, yet it’s coming back again, and one of the good news stories towards the end of 2015 is that the new Youghal Sailing Club has been accepted into the ISA fold.

Youghal at present is a difficult place for sailing, as the tidal power of the mighty Munster Blackwater sweeps straight through the estuary and along the old town’s waterfront, and the creation of any meaningful modern facilities will have the immediate difficulty of silting by incredibly adhesive black mud.

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With the sun out, and the tide in, Youghal looks to be an ideal location for the easy installation of a marina….....Photo: W M Nixon

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….but with the sun in and the tide out, the mud problem is revealed. Photo: W M Nixon

Thus, as dedicated Afloat.ie readers will have recently observed, no sooner had one group announced that a marina in Youghal was on the way than another longer-established group quietly suppressed the story, as they’re well aware of the engineering and dredging difficulties involved, and premature announcements will only slow any project in the long run.

In the fullness of time, a marina at Youghal will be a godsend for any cruiser plugging along the south coast. It’s not always the easiest coast in the world to make a passage along, sometimes it can seem an awfully long way to Cork from Dunmore East or Kilmore Quay even if you do make stopovers at Dungarvan or Helvick, and there are times when the hardiest seafarer is glad enough to get his boat secured to a good big pontoon.

But that’s for the future. Meantime, the locally-based keelboats are using either the restless anchorage off the town, or the more serene pool across the estuary at Ferry Point on the east shore, while the new club’s flotilla of GP 14s are stored in spare warehouse space during non-sailing time, and when they do go sailing it turns out their clubhouse is a moveable feast - it’s a caravan which can be towed to a choice of sailing locations.

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A moveable feast. Members of the newly-affiliated Youghal Sailing Club with their caravan HQ, Adrian Lee in doorway. Photo: W M Nixon

On the national stage, it is young Youghal GP 14 sailor Adrian Lee who has been among those flying the club’s flag, and there’s hope in the air. When we were there in May on a fine day that promised a summer which never arrived, we couldn’t help but think that when they do get their facilities and maybe even a clubhouse, they’ll look back to the days of the caravan and ad hoc racing arrangements with sweet nostalgia. For sometimes, it’s much better to be travelling than it is to arrive.

But for the rest of us, the message from Youghal is simple. The sea is for sailing. Use it or lose it. By all means get proper people surveys done which indicate the way numbers are shaping up and things are going. But really, if you want to persuade people to go sailing, the best way is by example, getting afloat as much as possible yourself. And maybe then you’ll find the time to welcome aboard newcomers too.

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Reviving Youghal sailing – on race days, the club’s caravan is simply towed down to the pier and the races are started from there. Photo: W M Nixon

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Youghal’s massive public slip provides launching for the YSC sailing dinghies, but during 2015 the boats had to be stored at the other end of town when not in use. Photo: W M Nixon

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The pace-setter. Adrian Lee of Youghal SC with his Duffin-built GP14. Photo: W M Nixon

Click to download: ISA Survey of Club Racing 

Published in W M Nixon

The Cork Harbour National 18s are inviting members of Howth Yacht Club to come sailing on the new National 18 in early November at  a demo weekend at the club.

A new design has recently arrived in Cork and the Munster sailors are bringing the new boat to Dublin for trials. The Class supports a thriving fleet, from the 75+ year old classic woodies through to the latest Morrison design, with an unrivalled history of keen competition and a 'lively bonhomie' amongst the multi–generational fleets in clubs around England, Ireland, the Isle of man, Scotland & Wales.

The Class has evolved a deep history, from the original clinker wooden Uffa Fox ‘Ace’ adopted in 1938, through to our latest iteration, the thoroughly exciting & modern Phil Morrison designed, two or three person, trapeze, dinghy being built by White Formula and formally launched at the 2015 Dinghy Show.

The weekend takes place at Howth Yacht Club on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th of November. To register your interest or for more information contact Willie Healy at 086 8554562 or Colin Chapman at 087 7566977.

Published in National 18

#dognosetrophy – 'Fast, very fast' that's the verdict on the new Phil Morrison National 18 that made its Cork Harbour debut for the 'Dognose Trophy' for mixed dinghies on Saturday afteroon writes Claire Bateman. Bob Bateman captured the action below.

The Dognose Trophy Race, (No. 5 Buoy a replica of which is a magnificent piece of silverware from the olden days), was sailed in a cloudy but very breezy southerly wind. What made this event different was the fact that the new National 18s participated.

Race Officer, Mike Dwyer, set up the committee boat off Whitegate assisted by his Godfather none other than T.E. Crosbie. They set a beat out to Dognose. Tom Crosbie in his beautiful red new 18 succumbed before the start and did not participate. The race got under way with a mix of the old and the new National 18s and a sole Laser participant.

The bulk of the fleet went up the left hand side of the course and Tommy Dwyer, hoping to catch the stronger tide in the channel, went up the right side. As the fleet met at the weather mark it was the two new lead boats were in the lead with Colin Chapman ahead. On the run they headed for Spike Island before gybing to make the No. 13 Buoy. In the gusty conditions Chapman capsized but did not take long to right the boat again but not before the dream boat of Tommy Dwyer got past him reveling in the conditions with her bow up and planing very fast. A 90 degree turn to port brought a two sail reach up to the Cove Sailing Club mark, a 180 degree turn back and spinnakers were hoisted again on a shy reach as they sailed past Cobh and past the No. 14 buoy before heading to the finish at Aghada where they availed of the facilities of the fine new pontoon to come ashore to partake in the usual get together after this old and well loved race.


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Published in National 18

#national18 –  There's great excitement around Cork Harbour this week with the delivery of the first four of the completely new Phil Morrison-designed National 18s to join the established fleet at Monkstown Bay SC.

In the near future, other boats will be arriving to make their debut as Crosshaven with the Royal Cork YC, as well as further augmenting the Monkstown group. By the time the class's big British and Irish Championship is staged at Royal Cork from July 26th to 31st, the necessary critical mass of the new boats should have been achieved to provide top quality racing. But there will of course also be special provisions made to ensure that boats of older types (the restricted class has been in existence since 1938) are continuing to get worthwhile sport.

The development of this newest and very exciting National 18 has been largely powered by the Cork Harbour National 18ft Class Association, and National 18 sailors in Britain have been particularly impressed by the way that the Royal Cork YC invested funds to help this community effort towards a brighter future from resources within the class association.

This weekend will see the four new boats getting their rigs tuned with some trial sailing planned, but we'll be very surprised indeed if there isn't a test race or two down Monkstown way on Saturday and Sunday.

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These boats will take a bit of getting used to, but there's no doubting the excitement in the air...

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Big smiles greet Colin Chapman's new Ultra Design National 18 one of the first eight National 18's new design to arrive at the Royal Cork Yacht Club for the 2015 season.

L. to R. Royal Cork Admiral Pat Lyons, Dom Long, President National 18 Class, Rear Admiral Dinghies, Celine McGrath and owner Colin Chapman. Picture Robert Bateman.

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Published in National 18

#national18 – Since being introduced to the public at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show in March of this year, the first of the new Phil Morrison designed National 18s has been undergoing sailing trials and completing the required EU stability tests. From the moment she hit the water for her inaugural sail at Brightlingsea it was clear that the boat was something special, say her promoters.

Afloat.ie covered recent developments in the class here when WM Nixon concluded the National 18s were taking dinghy racing onto a new plane.

British Olympian Rob White, whose company White Formula builds the boats, was among the first to helm her and couldn't keep the grin off his face. "She's seriously slippery," said Rob immediately after sailing "she feels really responsive and accelerates instantly in even the lightest puffs."

As well as impressing with her sailing performance the new National 18 also passed her EU RCD stability tests with flying colours. Named Hurricane after the very first ever National 18 launched in 1938, she is now on the South coast and has so far been seen in Lymington, Keyhaven and Poole Harbour. First impressions have been very favourable, and she has turned heads both in the dinghy park and on the water.

Production is in full swing on the dozen boats already on order. The next batch of four will go to Cork in June to start the Irish fleet with further boats following shortly thereafter.

A programme of test sails is currently being set up and further details of how members of the press and those interested in sailing the boat, including the more than 40 people who signed up at the Dinghy Show, can get involved will be published shortly.

Looking ahead, there will a National 18 English Championship at Bosham during the weekend of 4th and 5th July 2015. This will be followed by the British and Irish Championship, hosted by the Royal Cork Yacht Club from to 26th to 31st July, where 12 of the new boats will be competing alongside some 30 GRP Proctor 18s, and a fleet of wooden classics.

Current orders for new boats will keep builders White Formula busy through until late summer.

Published in National 18

#national18 – There are some special dinghy classes. There are some very special dinghy classes. And then there are the National 18s.

You can see any number of reasons why this unique class, celebrating its 80th birthday in just three years time, is in a league of its own. A three-man boat with one of the crew on a trapeze, its crewing set–up requires a level of sociability which is further emphasised ashore, where their après sailing is the stuff of legend.

At all the centres where it is sailed, and at places upon which the National 18s have descended for a championship, we know they've left behind a formidable reputation for determined but good humoured conviviality, combined with great sportsmanship.

Yet while it is easy to understand the class's popularity among its adherents when you see them in high spirits as a group, there's no getting away from the fact that in today's dinghy terms, 18ft is a lot of boat. The mood of the National 18s may often seem light-hearted. But keeping one of these boats in prime condition and well crewed is not something for the casually-interested.

It requires real commitment, yet that is something which National 18 sailors seem to have in spades. And now the class has taken on a new lease of life with the development of a fresh take on the National 18 parameters by legendary designer Phil Morrison. But rather than being launched as a commercial venture, the new boat is being developed from within class resources, which has involved several imaginative fund-raising ventures. W M Nixon found himself being drawn into one of them.

It's official, The Cork Harbour National 18 Class are brilliantly capable of running a booze-up in a distillery. And just to make it even more challenging for their supportive members and many friends, they ran this particular fund-raiser for the new Phil Morrison boat in the Jameson Distillery in Midleton in East Cork on the first Saturday night of Lent.

Of course, like all Ireland on St Patrick's Day three weeks later, they got a special dispensation for the partying to continue unhindered by thoughts of Lenten piety. There was plenty of time for that next morning. But meanwhile, right there in the heritage and high tech splendour of the Midleton facility where tradition and new science are dynamically allied, the National 18 crews went at it good-oh, and the class's Development Fund was greatly enhanced.

In fact, I'm told the financial targets were comfortably exceeded, but as Class President Dom Long and the ever-energetic Tom Dwyer didn't tell us the targets in the first place, we'll happily take their word for it. All I know is that it was one helluva night, and only the National 18s could have done it.

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Let's party! Colman Garvey's vintage National 18 welcomes guests to the Midleton Distillery for yet another event in a series of fund-raisers which have supported the development of the new boat from within class resources. Photo: W M Nixon

It's a class which – thanks to being a restricted design rather than a hidebound one-design – is able to wallow happily in its history as it thrusts towards new designs which keep up the spirits of its established sharpest sailors, while also encourage the vital new blood.

So how did it all come about? Well, thanks to a prodigious book written by Brian Wolfe of the boat's history, published in 2013 to mark the class's 75th Anniversary, we get some idea of the inevitable complexity of the story. The class started in 1938 in the Thames Estuary where there'd been several local one design or restricted "large dinghy" classes around the 18ft mark and soon – under a National Class imprimatur from the Yacht Racing Association – it spread to several other centres.

Needless to say, World War II from 1939 to 1945 brought any further growth and most sailing activity to a halt, but by 1947 things were looking up again, and in the straitened post war circumstances, the National 18 found its niche. Back in 1938, Yachting World magazine had sponsored a design to the class's rules by Uffa Fox, and that became the clinker-built Uffa Ace, which continued to be the backbone of the class for many years after the war.

It was Whitstable in the far east of Kent which produced most of the initial impetus for the class, and local builders Anderson, Rigden & Perkins made a speciality of it. In fact, ARP-built Uffa Aces were soon virtually the definitive National 18. Yet ironically we cannot confirm at the moment if the oldest National 18 still sailing – Richard Stirrup's 1938-vintage Tinkerbelle which races with the classics divison at Bosham SC on Chichester Harbour – is an ARP boat.

It's ironic because Tinkerbelle's first home port was Howth. It wasn't until I was writing the history of Howth YC for its Centenary twenty years ago that awareness surfaced that there'd been the nucleus of a National 18 class in Howth in 1938.
There were just three boats – John Masser's Wendy number 14, Tinkerbelle number 15, and Fergus O'Kelly & Pat Byrne's Setanta, number 16.

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Tinkerbelle (15) being sailed by Aideen Stokes in 1939, with John Masser's Nat 18 Wendy (later Colleen II) astern, and the Corbett family's Essex OD Cinders abeam.

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Tinkerbelle as she is today, the oldest National 18 still sailing. Her home port is Bosham on Chichester Harbour. Photo courtesy Richard Stirrup

Tinkerbelle seems to have been owned by a syndicate in which the Stokes family was much involved, though in the class history her earliest owner is listed as Bobby Mooney, son of the renowned Billy Mooney of Aideen fame. However, around Howth, Tinkerbelle was best remembered for being raced with considerable panache by a non-owner, Norman Wilkinson.

But when Norman returned from war service in 1946 determined to sail just as much as humanly possible, he found that the National 18s had faded away, and the only way he could get regular racing was by buying the 1898-built Howth 17 Leila, which he duly raced with frequent success right up to the end of his long life in 1998, by which time Leila was a hundred.

It's intriguing to think that, with one or two twists of fate in Howth, Norman Wilkinson might have been renowned as a star of the National 18s taking on the likes of class legends such as Somers Payne and Charlie Dwyer of Cork, where the class – having started with just two ARP boats in1939 - held fire for a while, but got going big time in the late 1940s and early '50s with several builders all round Cork Harbour creating them in local workshops.

That was one of the attractions of the National 18s. They were big enough to appeal to people who didn't fancy skittish little dinghies, yet they were small enough to be constructed by artisan boatbuilders who could produce lovely boats. But the owners – having laid out what were considerable sums of money at a time when Ireland seemed to be in a state of permanent economic depression – were disinclined to go the final stage of having the boats properly measured and registered with the class. This caused increasing problems, ultimately solved by a high level of diplomacy as the National 18s' popularity grew, and the opportunities arose for the Cork boats to go across the water to race in big-fleet competitions.

At one stage, class numbers were so healthy at many centres that in Britain they had Northern and Southern Championships, reflecting the primitive state of road movement of boats. Dinghy road trailers – particularly for hefty big 18-footers – were still in their infancy, so all sorts of ingenious methods were used to get boats to distant events, with a Whitstable boat on at least one occasion getting to Cork as deck cargo aboard a Coast Lines vessel on its regular route which took in Rochester in Kent and eventually Cork among several ports.

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The National 18s in their classic prime, with immaculately vanished clinker-built hulls, and setting lovingly-cared-for cotton sails. Here, Crosshaven's greatest National 18 sailor Somers Payne (Melody, 206) is being pursued by Alan Wolfe in Stardust 63), while up ahead Charlie Dwyer with Mystic (208) is doing a horizon job, with the legendary Leo Flanagan of Skerries lying second at the helm of Fingal. The photo was taken during a Dinghy Week at Baltimore, and it is memories like this which inspired Brian Wolfe (son of Stardust's owner-skipper) to undertake the mammoth task of collating and writing the class's history.

In Ireland, centres which saw interest in the National 18s included Dunmore East, Clontarf and Portrush, but as Dun Laoghaire was committed to the 17ft Mermaid, the only place on the East Coast with really significant National 18s numbers was Skerries, where the incredible Leo Flanagan set the pace driving his Jensen Interceptor ashore, and racing his no-expenses-spared ARP-built National 18 Fingal afloat in somewhat erratic style.

Leo was a ferocious party animal, and when the Skerries and Crosshaven National 18s united in going to the big class championship at Barry in South Wales in the mid 1950s, Leo was very disappointed to discover that, just as the party was really getting going, the club barman had every intention of closing at closing time. The very idea....Leo solved the problem by buying the entire bar for cash on the spot.

As far as Leo was concerned, sailing was for parties, so when he heard of the highly-organised Irish Olympic campaign towards the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he got himself to Rome, as Olympic sailing promised Olympian parties. To his distress, he was ordered out of the Olympic Village by the Irish squad, who wanted no distractions. But to their distress, the bould Leo then turned up next morning for the first day's racing, officially accredited and highly visible in his new role – he had become manager of the Singapore team.

It seems that in a harbourside bar the night before, he'd met the helmsman of the Singapore Olympic Dragon (as it happened, the only Dragon in Singapore), who was racing in the Olympics as a personal venture. As the biggest rubber concessionaire in Malaya, he could well afford to do so. But this meant he was also Team Manager, and when Leo met him, the Singapore skipper was much upset, because with his sailing duties and need to get a good night's sleep before each day's racing, he was simply unable to take up all the official invitations which any Olympic Team Manager received.

He felt he was badly offending his hosts, and completely failing the Singapore sailing community So Leo, out of sheer kindness, agreed to be the Singapore Olympic Sailing Team Manager, giving selflessly of his time, energy and great wit in the front line at all the best and most fashionable parties throughout the 1960 Olympic Regatta.

All of which has little enough direct connection with the story of the National 18s, but it gives you some idea of the style of the people who have been involved in a long tale which will soon have been going on for eighty years. Yet beyond the parties and the many scrapes they got into, there was also much serious sailing and boat development going on, for although the Uffa Ace was the most numerous design in the growing fleet, anyone could have a go provided they fitted within the class rules.

But by the mid-1960s, it was clear that the traditional concept of a clinker-built National 18 was losing its appeal, and in 1968 the Class Association asked Ian Proctor to design a National 18 to be built as a smooth-hulled fibreglass series-produced boat, with bare hulls to be available for owners who wished to finish the boats themselves.

However, being mindful of keeping existing wooden boats competitive, the new boats were built much heavier than their glassfibre construction really required. Yet they looked good, and the first one Genevieve (266) was delivered to class stalwart Murray Vines, who sailed with the Tamesis Club on the Thames. There, the river may have been pretty, but it was so narrow that when the Tamesis people secured a major championship, they took their entire race management team down to the coast to attractive sea venues where the National 18s could do their thing with style and space.

That said, it was far from style and space they were reared. Murray Vines' son Jeremy – who is proud owner of the very first production version of the Phil Morrison Odyssey design which the class has been developing for the past two years – recalls his own earliest experience of championship competition with the National 18s in 1949 aged 11. He and his brother crewed for their father in 18/51 in a championship on the Medway in Kent, and they lived afloat on the boat, for in those days many National 18s lay to moorings.

Perhaps as a reward, the father built the two young Vines brothers their own International Cadet Dinghy the following winter. But Jeremy has remained loyal to the National 18 class to the point of being the pioneering owner for the new version of the design despite being at a certain age which you can work out yourself from that data given for the Medway in 1949. That said, he has given himself more space for his sailing as he has moved his base from Tamesis to Lymington, and in addition to the National 18, he cruises and races the Dufour 34 Pickle, a sister-ship of Neil Hegarty's award-winning Shelduck which featured in this column a week ago.

That the new wave of glassfibre 18s was not going to outclass the existing boats was forcefully demonstrated in 1970, when the class held its first combined all-British & Irish Championship in Cowes, after twenty years of separate Northern and Southern events. Despite the new glassfibre boats, the classics from Cork Harbour – where they'd been in the midst of celebrating the Quarter Millennium of the Royal Cork YC - were dominant, with Somers Payne right on top of his form sailing Melody (206) to win going away, notching only 1.5 points to second-placed clubmate Dougie Deane on 14.

Cork Harbour boats took the first six places in a crack fleet of thirty-one of all the best from every top National 18 centre, and the spirit of it all was best captured by the Thames Challenge Cup for a family crew going to Royal Cork's Dwyer family – Charlie and his sons Michael and a very young Tom – who placed sixth in Mystic.

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The furthest flung fleet is at Findhorn in northeast Scotland, but the huge distance involved doesn't stop Royal Findhorn YC boats competing with the rest of the class. This is top RFYC helm Stuart Urquhart's Howlin Gael racing in the Solent, and every so often the class – including those from Cork – make the long trek to Finhorn for an annual championship.

However, in terms of championship success the movement towards overall victory by glassfibre boats had begun, and 1977 saw the last championship win by a wooden boat, with Mike Kneale's Maid Mary (183) from the Port St Mary fleet in the Isle of Man. This was a hotbed of National18 racing for a couple of decades, and after Mike had completely renovated the 23-year-old formerly only so-so Maid Mary, he clinched the 1977 title at Findhorn in northeast Scotland "just before you get to Norway", as I was told in Midleton last month. There, the Royal Findhorn YC is a byword for warm hospitality ashore and hot sport afloat, but despite a strong challenge by a formidable Cork contingent, the Manxmen won out.

But having done his duty by the classic wooden boats, for 1979 Mike Kneale and his team took a different tack – they commissioned a new National 18 design from ace ideas man Jonathan Hudson, which they composite-built around Airex foam whose use other Manx DIY boat builders such as Nick Keig had been deploying for long-distance multi-hulls.

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The Airex boat....Mike Kneale's innovative Woodstock on trials off Port St Mary in the Isle of Man in 1979.

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Woodstock from the Isle of Man sails back into Crosshaven in 1979 with all the look of a boat which has just won the championship.

Despite – or maybe because of – her composite materials, the new boat was called Woodstock. And as Brian Wolfe's history of the class recalls, when she appeared for the well-supported 1979 championship in Crosshaven, "there was much debate", not un-related to the fact that Mike and his crew of Rick Tomlinson and Ross Thomas swept the board, taking the championship for Mike's fourth time in a clean sweep with the top boat from the home Cork Harbour fleet being Albert Muckley's Eastern Promise (323) in second overall for East Ferry SC.

So where was Somers Payne? Well, after dominating the national championship leaderboards since 1958 with the wooden Melody, in 1979 Somers was making his first foray into campaigning a glassfibre boat, and while he may have been third, the writing was on the wall, and the class was moving to class.

And there was new life at Royal Cork. The Royal Cork YC's National 18s were having one of their periodic re-births, and while Woodstock may have won the title, her designer reckoned it was only by extra skill that they stayed ahead of a new wave of young talents whose helming skills had been honed in events like the Admiral's Cup and many national and international championships in all sorts of boats. Their zest for international competition was buoyed up by the knowledge that, back home in Crosser, they had ready-to-go racing in the National 18s which was not only great sport, but somehow much more fun than sailing in other boats.

This continued level of enthusiasm at all ages meant that when the National 18 pace showed any signs of slackening, the Cork Harbour division could be relied on to get things up and moving again. Thus when the changeover to glassfibre had become complete at the front of the fleet, with many other owners happy to race their vintage boats in a classics division, some of the Corkmen questioned why new glasfibre boats were still being built overweight in order not to out-perform boats which now saw themselves as a different part of the class in any case.

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The National 18 fleet in Cork Harbour was mustering serious numbers with the lighter GRP boats from O'Sullivan's of Tralee. Photo: Bob Bateman

So the Crosshaven people got the moulds from England, and encouraged the moving of them to O'Sullivan's Marine in Tralee (incidentlally just about as far west on land as you can get from Whitstable in Kent), where they were used to build a whole new wave of lighter boats which became the National 18 class as most of us have known it until this year. Now, the new moves into the Phil Morrison boat are providing a fresh direction for a class which nevertheless takes careful steps to ensure that older boats have their place in the sun with a chance of realistic racing against similar craft.

Although Jeremy Vines of Tamesis and Lymington is the owner of the first of the new boats (she's number 401, and is called Hurricane in honour of the very first National 18 built by Anderson, Rigden and perkins in Whitstable in 1938), he is untinting in his praise for the energy and vision of the Cork harbour division of the class in having the idea and then promoting the new Phil Morrison boat, and he makes a particular point of applauding the very tangible support which has been given to the project by the Royal Cork Yacht Club.

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Into the blue.....Hurricane (number 406) is unveiled a fortnight ago at the Dinghy Show.

It's almost unfair, in such a community-based grass roots project, to single out anyone for special praise, but I got the feeling that folk like Colin Chapman, Dom Long and Tom Dwyer have been right there in the thick of it from the beginning.

The prototype having been tested and approved every which way, the moulds were made and the first dark blue hull emerged early in the New Year in one of the workshops which Rob White runs at White Formula Boats at Brightlingsea in Essex. So having been built at Tralee on the shores of the Atlantic for more than a decade, National 18 production is now back on the shores of the North Sea, but the spirit of the class at every location, regardless of where it might be, seems keener than ever.

The first of the new boats - of which sixteen have now been ordered – was Jeremy Vines' Hurricane, number 406, which was unveiled at the recent Dinghy Show in London. For a new generation which has been raised on the Phil Morrison-designed RS 200, this latest variant on the continuing National 18 story will speak volumes, and with eloquence. But it says everything about the spirit of this exceptional class that she rings a bell with seasoned National 18 sailors too.

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The gang's all here. The new boat celebrated at the Dinghy Show with a group including many of those actively involved in its development, notably Colin Chapman, Tom Dwyer, Dom Long and Jeremy Vines.

 

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The movers and shakers are (left to right) Tom Dwyer of the Cork Harbour National 18s, designer Phil Morrison, Cork Harbour Class President Dom Long, Jeremy Vines (owner of the first boat to the new Morrison design), and Rob White of White Formula Boats

Published in W M Nixon

#national18 – The new Phil Morrison designed National 18 will be launched to the public at the 2015 RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show, which takes place over the weekend of 28 February/1 March at Alexandra Palace, London.

This exciting new hull design was unanimously adopted by the class at its 2014 AGM and with fifteen boats already on order for 2015, production is in full swing at White Formula, the new official builder for the National 18.

The naming ceremony for the first new boat will take place at 14.30 on the Saturday of the show at the National 18 stand B24. Designer Phil Morrison and builder Rob White will be in attendance and all are welcome to join the celebration and inspect the new boat.

The introduction of this new National 18 design is the culmination of an extensive development and testing programme. A prototype named 'Odyssey' was launched in October 2013 and has been trialled to rave reviews by upwards of 150 people at venues around England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. She is sleek, responsive and a joy to sail in all conditions. As well as being lighter, faster, easier to sail and more comfortable to crew than previous 18s, she is also easier to launch and bring ashore and capsize recovery is improved.

The N18 remains the only 3 person National dinghy class, and the single trapeze allows a wide range of age, weight, and experience to be competitive. She is spacious, and while three is the normal racing crew, two can manage or there is room for the whole family. The National 18 Class is thriving and has a long history of competition and bonhomie.

White Formula (Brightlingsea, UK) was announced as the National 18's exclusive build partner in September 2014. The agreement with White Formula brings attractive pricing for a range of options from bare hull to fully fitted complete boat ready to sail. Current owners will be able to transfer spars and sails, thereby reducing cost. There is also an enormous range of styling options for anyone wishing to apply a splash of colour.

Odyssey was constructed by The Boat Yard at Beer and many private contributors played vital roles in the funding, testing and development process. The development team worked closely with Phil Morrison to incorporate all the feedback following the Odyssey trials. Thanks must go to all the companies and individuals involved in that development and testing for their invaluable contributions.

Construction of the hull, deck and internal moulds was completed in January and the first hull, which looks spectacular, emerged early in February and is currently nearing completion ready for exhibition at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show.

A complete boat with carbon spars, foils and sails will cost £15995 inc VAT, a complete hull ready to accept current spars and sails will cost £9450, and a bare hull with centreboard £6240. 15 hulls are already on order.

The Class is determined to remain inclusive of all the generations of N18s which started with the classic Uffa Ace of 1936, then the Proctor GRP hull of the 1970s and subsequent lighter, faster derivatives.

For further information about the National 18 Class please visit www.national18.com or email [email protected]

Published in National 18
Tagged under
Page 4 of 7

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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