My first experience of sailing a Mirror dinghy was not a good example of how to sail.
For £400 I became the proud owner of a brand new Mirror dinghy, made for me in Cork, a shining blue hull, lovely woodwork and crisp new sails, which crackled as the wind on the Sand Quay in Monkstown introduced them to the natural power that would move the new boat across Cork Harbour.
I negotiated the launching trolley down the slipway and she was bobbing in the water for the first time, ready to go. Monkstown Bay Sailing Club dinghy sailors, coming ashore from their Saturday morning league race, advised me that it was “brisk” in the Bay, where my previous sailing had been a club adult course in National 18s and crewing, prior to purchasing my first maritime steed.
My crew was my young son, Pat, adhering to his father’s wishes as youngsters do until they more sense and doubt the ability of the parent. We boarded and were off….A bit more quickly than I expected, as the strong wind coupled with the brand new sails in the power of Nature and within a short time my new Mirror was heading for an immoveable force – the Stand Road wall bounding the riverside in Monkstown.
Unfazed – at that stage – I leant out to balance the boat, but that natural power was stronger than human resource and there was a loud pop, followed by a second even louder as toe straps pulled out of the floor and, within seconds my lovely new Mirror had capsized and we were in the water --- wearing buoyancy aids, so swam around to the keel to get onto it and right the boat, only to find that tit was a bit of a distance above my head…..!!! Contemplating how to push Pat onto it, rescue arrived in the Monkstown Club’s rescue boat.
Wet and morale in shreds, we were helped to right the boat and towed ashore…
It didn’t dissuade either of us from sailing and later that same season we sailed the Mirror in the Cobh-Blackrock Race, 15 miles upriver in about two hours and had good experiences in the Mirror before moving on to other boats…. That happened to a lot of Mirror owners and the Class declined in Cork Harbour, but there has been a bit of revival, with quite a few mature sailors involved, at the Royal Cork, nicely in time for the holding there of the Mirror Class European Championships next week, from Tuesday, August 9 to Friday the 12th, sponsored by SafeTrx, who Apps provides a safety platform to enable boats as small as dinghies to be tracked and have access to weather alerts and maritime safety….
For this week’s Podcast I’ve been talking about that revival with Mel Collins, one of the Championships organisers and who holds a World Championship Mirror medal…
Mel Collins and the Mirror European Championships start on Tuesday next at the Royal Cork in Crosshaven and – we do have a Mirror back in our family……. The circle is complete…..