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National 18

National 18

The National 18 was born in 1938 following a design competition organised by the then YRA  (now RYA) and the Yachting World magazine.

The original idea was that of Frank Knowling of Whitstable YC (later to be known as the father of  the class) for an 18 ­foot sailing dinghy, suitable for day sailing, yet fast enough to be of interest to  racing sailors and at a reasonable cost. (The first rather hopeful restriction of the original class  rules was “Price not to exceed £125 complete with spars, all equipment and designer’s fee but  not including sails”).

The plan was to produce an affordable national alternative to the many local  one­designs of about this size to be found right round the coast of the British Isles.  Many of  these local estuary classes survive today, for example the Mermaid in Dublin, Thames Estuary  OD, Chichester Harbour 18 etc.

The well­ known designer Uffa Fox won the competition (over the Laurent Giles submitted  version) with his ‘Ace’ design for a clinker ­built wooden boat. National 18 No 1, ‘Hurricane’, was  owned by Stanley Beale and sailed at Whitstable, with No.2 ’Gust’ and No.3 Foam’’.

Initial enthusiasm was held back by the effects of World War II but a good deal of 18 building got underway soon afterwards, when mahogany was again available for boat­ building and the class  became active especially in the Thames Estuary area.  

By 1950, fleets had appeared at clubs  dotted all around the British Isles and Ireland, the Class Association having been formed in 1947.

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