The Gwen 12 was designed in 1946 by Charlie Cunningham, who also designed many popular catamarans. The prototype was built of 3/4 inch ply, had an open cockpit with empty kerosine tins for bouyancy and much smaller sails than later boats. It also had no bowsprit and no trapeze (see photos left).
Albert Sailing Club was the first to adopt the class in 1950 and built four boats in 3/16th inch ply with a sail area of 120 sq. ft. Sorrento Sailing Club was the second to adopt the Gwen in 1953. The Gwen 12 Association was formed in 1951. In 1955 a bowsprit was added together with a self-draining cockpit.
By the late 1950's the Gwen 12 had spread to every state and a number of other countries. A trapeze was added in the late 1950's. It was granted national class status in 1964.
In 1951 the "Gwenda" became the Gwen 12 because Cunningham designed the Gwen 20, similar to the Payne-Mortlock Canoe with twin hiking boards but reputedly even faster and more stable. Only a few were built (see right).
In the 1970's the cockpit design was de-restricted and larger spinnakers were tried (see photos below).
The class died out in the 1980's but there are still many Gwen enthusiasts around.
At our Inverloch Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta we have one beautifully restored Gwen in our fleet (see photo right) and more are currently being restored. So if you want to relive the glory days of the Gwen 12, come and see them at Inverloch next Australia Day Weekend.