History of Your Classic Boats: First Class 12, a Beneteau for the Admiral’s Cup

First Class 12
Beneteau First Class 12

First Class 12 | History of Your Classic Boats

Over 200 of you have now sent us stories and images of your Classic Boats, enriching the online archive dedicated to them and making so many of these great designs of the last century available to all. May as many follow you! Now, after recounting dozens of them through your words and descriptions, we have also come to a good dose of episodes in this new in-depth series, another expedient to celebrate these sailing classics to the fullest. Now, continuing our series comes
Magic Twelve
(formerly Blue Diamond), the only one of the 3 prototypes of
First Class 12
still sailing.

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Magic Twelve; prototype First Class 12 Beneteau

First Class 12 | Origins

“Not everyone competes in the Admiral’s Cup but many dream of doing so.” Thus Beneteau advertised the launch of its First Class 12, “not everyone competes in theAdmiral’s Cup, but many dream of doing so.” An important statement to accompany one’s new creation, precisely the Class 12 designed by Groupe Finot. What does it have to do with theAdmiral’s, However, with a standard one-design? Good publicity, especially if three prototype versions of this one actually go to tackle the waters of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

First Class 12
First Class 12

The Admiral’s Cup was, for those who did not know, an international regatta organized by the RORC, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and was informally recognized as the World Offshore Championship. Held from 1957 to 1999 (and returning in 2025!) it was contested between national teams, each consisting of three hulls. In 1987 Beneteau prepared three boats for the purpose of participation, Blue Diamond (now Magic Twelve), Ellora V (now in a state of disrepair) and a third, now long sunk. The victory on the water will go to the New Zealanders thanks to the incredible performance of Propaganda, signed by Farr and helmed by Butterworth. But as a publicity operation, for the site, it is still a success. Thus ended, in ’77, production of the First Class 12, with 70 examples built in just 2 years.

Propaganda the New Zealand boat, helmed by Bradley William Butterworth, winner of the 1987 Admiral's Cup
Propaganda the New Zealand boat, helmed by Bradley William Butterworth, winner of the 1987 Admiral’s Cup

First Class 12 | Project

While the 3 prototypes were carbon and honeycomb-reinforced, the standard version is a more solid boat, slightly heavier but with more elegant lines and different construction material. Made of fiberglass and poly core, it has an overall length of 11.99 meters, including as much as 10.30 meters at the waterline, thus revealing little pronounced momentum, balanced by a moderate maximum beam, 3.9 meters. Compared with the three prototypes, the deckhouse loses its reinforcement and is lowered, providing a cleaner, more streamlined deck.

Magic Twelve
Magic Twelve; prototype #1 of First Class 12

Looking below the waterline, the rudder and centreboard have an elliptical profile, a solution aimed at decreasing any kind of turbulence, the same reason why the rudder is hanging, rather than on skeg.In terms of the interior, however, the two available options did not differ in terms of layout, with two double aft cabins, galley and charting just below the companionway, and dinette with bunks amidships. No forward cabin though, for all the gain of an immense sail cove.

First Class 12
First Class 12 – Interior “Cruise”

Equal in layout, the two versions then differ in terms of finish: in the more comfortable version, the interiors are more refined, with wood and classic furnishings and bulkheads, totally sacrificed in the racer variant, where the bulkheads are fiberglass, the doors are canvas, and the furnishings struggle to leave every superfluous gram on the floor.

First Class 12
First Class 12 – Interior “regatta”


First Class 12 | Data Sheet

DesignerGroupe Finot
Length Over All (LOA)11.99 m
Length at Waterline (LWL)10.50 m
Baglio Massimo3.9 m
Displacement4.3 t
Ballast2.12 t
Sail Area69.96 square meters
WeaponFractional Sloop
Year of first launch1986
Sleeping places6
Construction siteBeneteau
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