12footnews

Sailing in classic wooden 12foot dinghies. News, tips and hints.

zaterdag 24 november 2012

What will the Dutch decide

Saturday 26 January 2013 is the annual meeting of the Twaalfvoetsjollenclub in the Netherlands. What will the Dutch decide. Henk van der Zande is the chairman of the Dutch Twaalfvoetsjollenclub and has a dilemma concerning the international sailing in 12 foot dinghies. There are four options. This is the analysis for the meeting. Will it be option 1, 2, 3 or 4.  Read it february in the blog 12footnews.

chairman of the Twaalfvoetsjollenclub Henk van der Zande 


International sailing in 12 foot dinghies.
written by Fred Udo, Reinhard Schroeder and Pieter Bleeker

Already in the 20s and 30s some Dutch dinghy sailors crossed the country borders to participate in sailing competitions in other countries. At that time, there was little discussion of standardization, because the class was international. That is quite different now. Especially the last year there has been much debate and argument on this subject. The latest Dutch bulletin was full of it.
Reinhard Schröder, Fred Udo and Pieter Bleeker experienced everything at close quarters. We would like to share our thoughts about it with you, so that the subject can be discussed at the annual meeting. At the end of this letter we will outline a number of scenarios for further discussion.
But let's start with the past. The dinghy has been an officially recognized international class until 1964 and thereafter every country had its own way. The Netherlands remained faithful to the classical principles, while the Italians modernised the boat. In the 80's there was much exchange between Italy and the Netherlands. Already at that time differences in the equipment emerged. They are visible, if you have a good look at the pictures from that era. Aluminium rudders behind wooden dinghies, aluminium masts, plastic dinghies. Plastic penetrates in most traditional wooden classes and usually that's the beginning of the end for wooden boats. Except .... in Italy. In 2007, six Dutch dinghies went to Naples to sail against exclusively Italian wooden dinghies. This was a great success and from there wood had a good start. In Italy 17 new dinghies were built in 2011: 15 wood and 2 plastic. From every 3 dinghies are now 2 polyester and 1 wood. But the wood of Italy is not the same wood as in the Netherlands. Our rudders are heavy, the masts are heavy etc. Still the hulls are reasonably the same.Giorgio Pizzarello ordered in 2008 by van der Meer a dinghy, that obtained both a Dutch and an Italian certificate. The boat was not fast enough in Italy. No problem, if you're here and there drilling holes in the brackets, throw in a hollow mast, lightweight floorboards etc., you can save about 20 kg. One then adds an Italian rig with a multitude of trim lines. With gentle wind you are a lot faster, but ... you're still not as fast as a polyester boat in light weather. In strong wind Italian wooden dinghies can still be competitive. In 2011, a wooden dinghy with excellent sailor Paolo Viacava won even the Italian championship. In 2012 there was little wind and the first wooden boat was number 18. Is the game still fun if we play it this way? No, not really, and certainly not for the Dutch and other foreigners with their classical dinghies. This is proven in Portoroz and Lucerne, where there was no competition at all. Also in Italy one reluctantly acknowledges now that there are differences in speed and that there is actually three kinds of dinghies: modern plastic, modern wood and classic wood. Grosso modo the Dutch boats are classic wood and in Italy one finds modern plastic and modern wood. Each of these three parties do not budge an inch if one tries to negotiate about standardisation. The consequence is that, even in Italy, one talks about an internal schism. France, Switzerland and Germany are the victims of this situation, because what side should they join? And which way should the Netherlands go? If we allow modern wood and plastic, we draw the short straw. Classic wood has lost in each class. See the 505, the Olympia dinghy, the Vaurien. Do we want anything like this in our 12 foot dinghy class organization? None of our 350 members and 250 certificate holders would like to see our cultural heritage vanish. But what should we do? Close the borders? Deny that there are dinghies abroad? Should we race together with modern plastic during the worldcup 2013 in Naples?. Something the modern wooden dinghy sailors in Italy are fiercely opposed to. Anyway three separate classes with three starts and three classifications is not really fun. Racing with a few Dutch, Swiss, French and Germans is not really what one expects of a competition in Naples. In this case you might as well stay home and go to the Sneekweek.
In short, there are numerous dilemmas and yet something has to be done. Every dinghy sailor is now looking at the members of the Dutch Twaalfvoetsjollenclub. What will we decide: Staying together as an international dinghy friends club or prefer serious competition sailing in one design boats. The latter is at this moment unfeasible in international competitions and therefore we see four alternatives:

1 Close the borders
We are solely a national class. We no longer go abroad ... The Dutch have a saying for this: "In this way we throw with the bathwater the baby away "

2 All dinghies start together in international events
A joint start and then three classifications: modern plastic, modern wood and classic wood. The Italian class organization is a strong supporter of this, but modern wooden dinghies in Italy are fiercely opposed. The danger for the Netherlands is: modern plastic and modern wood are faster and become increasingly popular. Classic wood would be classified as a museum class. See numerous examples in other classes.

3 Separated starts
Modern plastic, modern wood and classic wood start not together is the rule, because the speed is not the same. It actually means a separation with Italy, because in this case we have hardly anything in common. The role of the International Organization 12 foot Class will become smaller. Perhaps we should establish an international classic dinghy class organization, together with the Germans, the French and other lovers of classic dinghies. The recently established International Friendship Series is a good way to promote classic wood.

4 A compromise
A separate section classic wood is set up under the umbrella of the International Organisation 12foot Class which has a neutral president. The start arrangements will be defined for every race separately. Less competition and more fun. It might also help if all “international” trophies: Cockshott (plastic), Swiss and Global (modern wood) and Friendship Series (wood classic) all be abolished along with the current World Cup. Friendships are strengthened by sharing and the exchange of boats or rigs in competitions open to such arrangements. An example is the Kaag Regatta, which already during numerous year is called “the International Friendship Regatta”

woensdag 21 november 2012

Dinghy vision of Dolph Blussé

The Dutch national 12ft-dinghy class, the oldest completely original and active One-Design class in the Netherlands, one of the oldest in the world.

The nerve of these Dutch 12ft-dinghy sailors to celebrate their own centennial party at their own time in 1914!! Could one foster any doubts about the 12Footers birthday? Early in 1913 the newborn Boat Racing Association held a design competition for a 12ft one-design centerboard dinghy that would sail well, but could also serve as a rowing dinghy. George Cockshott’s design won first prize in April 1913 and was christened the BRA “A” Class One-Design Dinghy, also known as the BRA 12Footer. So the design is one hundred years old in 2013 and the first “A” Class dinghy hit the water in the summer of that year.

Right, but all that happened in Great Britain, where nobody really liked One-Designs and the love for Restricted Classes always prevailed in lengthy discussions. The BRA 12Footer started off alright, but the Great War intervened and it never became a real hit in those islands West of Europe’s mainland. Racing these charming dinghies was popular for some years, in certain clubs for many years, but eventually the sail plan and the hull underwent significant changes or a new design was selected for club races, inevitably leading to the end of the class….. If not a Dutchman staying in England had by chance encountered the ”A” Class dinghy in the fall of 1913 and fell in love at first sight.
That winter he told his fellow members of the Royal Netherlands Sailing- and Rowing Club in Amsterdam about what he thought to be the ideal small racing dinghy for the sailing youth. His club realized the importance of this information and proposed in the next meeting of the United Sailing Associations of the Netherlands and Belgium a national class of ”Standaardjollen” to the rules of the BRA “A” Class One-Design dinghy class. On the 18th of April 1914 this class, also known as the “Twaalfvoetsjollenklasse” was installed. It grew to immense popularity in the Netherlands and stayed firmly alive until the present time.

So what? Everywhere new classes of racing sailboats were created in those years. Most of them were restricted classes but there were also one-designs and some of these classes date from before 1913/1914. The oldest one alive is the Irish Water Wag Class of 1887 that underwent a transformation from double-ender to sloop in 1900, but remained unchanged since then. The American Star-Class (1909) and the British X-Class One-Design (1911) are also older than the BRA 12Footer and have survived until now….. However, these boats underwent important changes to the original concept: a radically new sail plan and sometimes a different construction. Thus, the hull lines may still look the same but a completely different boat emerged.

So here is the great and till recently sorely neglected secret of our dearly beloved Twaalfvoetsjol: absolutely nothing ever underwent any real changes, not to the hull, the lug sail, the construction, the materials used. This is still the same dinghy that was elected by the Dutch to be a national one-design class in 1914 and that was lifted to the status of “International 12ft-Dinghy Class” by the IYRU in 1920 (recalled in 1964). This boat functioned at the Olympic Games in 1920(Belgium) and 1928 (Netherlands) as the One-Design Centerboard Class.
In some minor ways the Twaalfvoetsjol moved with the times: the “Union Silk” sailcloth made way for Dacron fibre; for reasons of safety floating aids are now compulsory and self-bailers are permitted; an hinged extension to the tiller and a boom vang are also allowed. And several additions to the Rules have been added to secure the unity in the class. Two small rules have disappeared: …. the sculling notch in the transom is gone and the name of the boat is not necessarily shown in gold leaf and shade.

We are well aware that in Italy fiberglass 12ft-dinghies with aluminum spars sail along with wooden feather-light hulls stowed full of trimming lines, carrying the lugsail (loose on the boom) higher than normal on a hollow wooden or aluminum mast. We are amazed by the double bottoms, absent floors, non-standard rudder blades and electric bilge pumps. We realize that such dinghies have left the old “International 12ft-dinghy Class”-rules because of these differences in hull, rig, weight and other concessions to the original…… it is a great pity!! And it is no surprise to us (and not really interesting) that these dinghies are slightly faster.

Luckily the Dutch Twaalfvoetsjollenclub, the national class organization, resists any temptations to change and maintains the unique character of the original BRA prize-winner:
The oldest national One-Design class in Holland, fully alive, that will reach the age of one hundred years on April 18, 2014.

Postscript: Isn’t it nice that these Dutch Puritans are no longer the only ones that realize how well this classical and well reglemented dinghy-class is suited not just for recreational sailing but also for high-level competitive racing! We see the fleet of classical dinghies grow already for years in Holland and now also in Northern Germany and on the Swiss Lakes… And these last years the number of registered classical dinghies is growing fast in France and the number of class events rises!

We will keep fashionable nonsense and expensive novelties out of the boats and cherish the clarity and stability of the original class rules. The cost of racing will thus be fairly stable. Provided that a new sail is bought every now and then, it will be feasible to race an old and well maintained classical dinghy successfully in an expanding and exciting circuit of international events. We hope to see many friends of the classical Twaalfvoetsjol at the Dutch centennial events in 1914.

vrijdag 2 november 2012

Capsizing and a bucket

Erik van der Meer has survived a dinghy regatta in 2011 with 35 knots. He is a good dinghy sailor, number 5 at the dutch championship 2012. September 2012 he made a little mistake in slow wind circumstances and capsized. See the picture. It can happen everybody. The first thing you had to do is to close your selfbailers. Second find as soon as possible a bucket. I have a 4 ltr optimist bucket and can use it immediately when I have bad luck. See the second picture. Most of the times it is not possible to empty your boat by yourself. You need help from someone who want to bring you to the harbour. Use a rope around the mast and fixed it to the rescue boat. What happened with Erik in this situation? He was able to empty his boat quick and in a long downwind course he could loose all the water in his boat to use his selfbailers. The ten dinghy sailors before him made a mistake, they forgot to round the right mark. After a protest Erik became number one. A miracle.

You need very quick a bucket when you capsize