Full marketing commenced in 1970 with the boat being offered in kit form, with a variety of sail plans, for $450 (Mirror 10 was selling at the time for $315 and the Mirror 16 at $850). Initially the marketing of the 125 was not a success with only 6 kits sold in 10 months (3 in VIC, 1 in NSW and 2 in QLD).
Mr. John Coomer of the Elwood Sailing Club had seen the proto-type 125 in 1970 and, after consideration of the Mirror 10 and the Heron, purchased a kit from Blockey and, following some calculations based on the number of kits sold, numbered his new boat Beauty Bottla with sail number 6.
No association had been formed and as the Mirror 14 was in production, Blockey had decided not to continue with the 125. Coomer, was able to get Blockey to produce 125 kits if and when buyers were found. He then consulted Victorian sailmaker Frank Hammond who developed a new sail plan which included the distinctive colour panels. (The sailplan was modelled from that of the Flying Junior)
Season 1970/71 saw John Coomer racing His 125 at Elwood in the Heron fleet and in the first race placed 22nd out of 37 boats. After five weeks of adjustment and tuning, including re-positioning the mast step, reshaping the rudder blade, strengthening the centre plate etc etc No. 6 beat the whole Heron fleet!
During the winter of 1971, building instructions, class rules and a Constitution were drafted and in April of that year, No. 6 entered a Victorian Yachting Council One-of-a-kind race and was given a yardstick of 108 (this was lowered to 100 after competing at a Mornington One-of-a-kind in 1972, and is currently 122).
The season 1971/72 saw No. 6 competing at Elwood in the miscellaneous class against Lazy Es, Flying Juniors, Sparrows, Aquanauts and other assorted classes, and in its spare time sailing at every other club on the bay in an attempt to generate interest.
The proto-type, No. 1, built by Blockey, and all of the original boats sold by him were located, but none of the owners were interested in forming an Association. In February 1972, Blockey gave the copyright of the 125 to John Coomer for use by any association that could be formed, and loaned the few remaining ply panels to enable thin cardboard patterns to be made.
By now friends had apparently given up the argument and joined John Coomer in forming an Association (Jim Robinson joined on the condition that he got sail No. 8!) and the 125 was exhibited in the 1972 Boat show, as well as being written up in that edition of Seacraft. The boat was marketed as a one design, low cost, family dinghy and each purchaser of a kit was given discount vouchers redeemable from the various component suppliers. Fifty plan sets were sold and the association was up and away. In the December 1972 season there were nine 125s at Elwood and sail numbers reached No. 21.
In the beginning, Blockey supplied kits which the association sold on and in this manner was able to provide a financial base for the association to continue. In 1975, a tight set of rules and regulations were put in place by the association to prevent the entrepreneurs from making continual changes and to ensure that the class remained a true one-design class but with a grandfather clause for boats numbering 400 or less.
At the 4th Annual General Meeting in 1976, 950 plan sets had been sold and shortly after, sail number 1000 went to Bob Smyth in gratitude for the services he had given to the emerging association. In 1977, the first Inaugural National Championships were held at Black Rock Yacht Club in Victoria with 47 entries.
Much of what was originally developed has been retained in the present 125, however, when required the specification has been changed by and with the consent of the National Executive of the time in conjunction with delegates from the State Divisions. These changes have included hand holds in the transom, the addition of floor battens, sail design modifications, the outlawing of advertising on hulls or sails and in 1990 the production of a fibreglass hull with the first license to manufacture given to Botterill Boat Builders of Highett, Victoria. Since this time many boat across Australia have been built using fibreglass, built both by amatuers and professional boat builders.
The open minded approach by the 125 Association over the years has helped to improve the class for the better as new ideas and materials have come along without sacrificing the one design concept. This has enabled the class to remain strong while other classes have faded away. The concept of economical, exciting, family sailing is still captured today in the Australian National 125.
At time of writing, sail No. 3127 is the most recent addition to the register, the class having spread all over the country with strong competition in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
In writing this brief history, information has been taken from articles previously published by John Coomer and Michael Golding. This association would not be in the prominent position that it is today without the continual input from hard working state committees.
It has become obvious in the development of this history, that John Coomer almost single-handedly started the 125 class in Victoria and then in Queensland after his move there towards the end of 1972. Through his dedicated efforts, Coomer was instrumental in the solid manner in which the 125 class has continued.
Compiled by John Angwin,
N.E.C. President. 1996/7