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International 12–Footers Seek Dinghies for Royal St. George Championships

19th August 2015
The 12' dinghy fleet at East Looe Sailing Club, Cornwall, in 1939

#12–footer – Royal St. George Yacht Club organisers would like to hear from any Irish owners of International 12–footer dinghies with the aim of joining the fleet for a championship is to be held on 30th August at the Dun Laoghaire club. As previously reported on, an Irish championship was held in Dun Laoghaire in 2011 in which  modified Dublin Bay boats sailed against unmodified (jibless) boats on equal terms. Afloat also reported recently on a Cork sailor seeking more information on the historic sailing class. A friendship regatta at the same Dun Laoghaire venue – to include boats from around the world – is also scheduled for 2017 during Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

Many 12 Footers still exist in Ireland, having been in the same families for many years. Some are unused and located in barns while others are used as yacht tenders. Three Irish boats have been restored, and travelled to Europe in recent years to compete in major 'Friendship' events. They are Aidan Henry's Dorado, no.5 built in the 1930s, Margaret Delany's Cora, no. 8, and George Millar's Pixie, no. 11. It should be noted that when numbers were allocated, each part of the country issued their own numbers, thus in Cork no. 8 in Alieen, and in Dublin it is Cora.

This class was designed in 1913 by amateur English yacht designer and Solicitor, George Cockshott, (1875-1952) as the British Racing Association 'A' Class. The International 12 Foot Class was adopted by the international Yacht Racing Union on 1st. January 1920. The class was the only dinghy class at the 1920 Antwerp (Belgium) Olympic Games, at which the sailing took place at Ostend. In 1928 the Olympic Games took place in Amsterdam (Holland) and the 12 Foots were again used. Although Irish sailing athletes did not partake in those Olympic games, Corkman, Captain Jimmy Payne represented the Irish free State at the 1924 World Sailing Championships organized by the Brussels Royal Yacht Club, and the Irishman won the event against competitors from France, Britain, Italy, Belgium and Holland. This must have been one of Ireland's earliest international yachting successes.

The class grew in popularity of the class in Ireland in the 1920s and 1930s. Fleets of locally professionally and amateur built boats grew up in Baltimore, Crosshaven, Howth, Sutton, Clontarf and Seapoint (Monkstown, Co. Dublin). Over many years Championships were held throughout Ireland in locations such as Lough Ree, Dun Laoghaire, and Cork Harbour.

What is the international 12 Foot like? She is a traditional wooden clinker built one-design with a single standing lug sail, hung off a mast which is placed very near the bow. The 3.66m x 1.43m. hull is open decked and is spacious enough for either single handed sailing or a crew of two.

In Dublin in the 1960s there was a move to modernize some of the old yacht designs to enable them to compete with the newly designed mass produced plywood dinghies which were becoming available. Under the direction of the National Yacht Club's J.J. O'Leary, all the existing 12 Footers in Dublin Bay adopted a jib from the Water Wags, moved the mast further aft in the boat, reduced the size of the mainsail and fitted a small foredeck to throw the water off.

For more information contact [email protected]

Published in RStGYC Team

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