The class has been around a long time, so there is a healthy supply of second hand boats. Many of the older boats are fantastic value and a great way into sailing. At the opposite end of the scale there are fully carbon foam sandwich machines.
For professionally built new boats the cost will vary according to your specification. Bare glass foam sandwich hulls start from around £3,500, add rig, sails, fittings, etc. and in total you should budget from around £7,500 for a basic complete, ready-to-sail boat. From the basic boat you are of course free to up the specification by adding carbon fibre and flash paint jobs.
For second-hand boats the price ranges are an indication of the average price for a boat in reasonable condition. Prices will vary considerably according to the type and quality of equipment such as sails, covers, trolley, etc. and the racing record of the individual boat.
Most of the boats in this price range are eligible for the 'vintage' section of the class. There is an active vintage racing circuit in the class. Many of the boats will be of wooden clinker construction and were designed by famous names of the past. Slightly more modern designs in this price range could include the China Doll (1967), Whisper (1970), Paper Dart (1972) and Scooter (1977). The later two boats were built in glass fibre and are still popular inland club racers.
The designs in this price range are generally referred to as Classics. They will be single bottomed (i.e. not self-draining) and typically built from plywood although some of the later designs may be found in GRP. (right, 1973) is a good all round inland boat while the Tiger (1978) is better on the sea. The Tigress (1980) is a round bilged development of the Tiger and is a good all round boat. The Bouncer (1977) was a pioneering wide and flat design which is still fast on open water. The Street Legal (1979), available in composite form, is difficult to sail fast in light airs but give it a force 4 and watch it go.
The Pipedream (1976) points higher than any other Twelve. It has a very fine bow and excellent inland boat. Some of the top sailors in the class have one as a second boat for club racing at river clubs
The majority of boats in this price range will be single bottomed (i.e. not self-draining) built in GRP or wood. Many of the designs will date back to the 1980s but can still be competitive particularly inland.
1980's saw a battle between the Crusader design and the Baggy Trousers. The Crusader is considered to be more of an all rounder and also capable of carrying more weight than a Baggy Trousers. It is easier to tack in light weather and more manoeuvrable, making it better inland. The Crusader was only built in wood.
Later in the 1980s developments of these designs were produced. The Design 8 is a Crusader development of all glass construction and performs well in a wide range of conditions. The Design 8 concept was further developed to the Freak Outs which are again great all-round performers.
The Final Chapter was designed in the mid eighties and many have been built, both amateur and professional, in wood and foam sandwich. This design has won numerous Championship races in recent years including the Burton Cup. The design carries heavyweights better than the Baggy Trousers, Design 8 or Crusader, although it can be tricky to sail in light weather. Above: The Baggy Trousers
If your budget takes you into this range then you can look at highly competitive, down to weight, double bottom boats. Self draining and boats with winged rudders boats are& the most competitive on open waters being stiffer and lighter whilst the single floor Twelves are still fairly competitive on inland waters.
Recent designs of note are the Feeling Foolish, Numinous, Paradox, Annie Apple, Big Issue and also the self draining Final Chapters. All these designs (and their recent derivatives) are reasonably competive for open meeting sailing. The Dead Cat Bounce and Hijack designs, along with other foilers have the edge on open water and in marginal planning conditions.