What’s this about the tiny Glandore Harbour Yacht Club having the largest, most active Dragon Fleet in the country? Sally Fegan-Wyles reports from West Cork
On a cold winter night fifteen years ago, a bar-side conversation turned a great idea into reality. GHYC members were reflecting on the lack of local participation in the summer sailing school. Children were coming from Dublin and Cork, or even further afield, but not from the area around Glandore. The problem was that there was no tradition of sailing for fun in the local farming or fishing families. Yachts were for blow-ins.
It was Debbie Bendon who suggested providing free introductory classes to children from the local primary schools, hoping that if they had a great time, some of them might persuade their parents that they should come to the summer school courses. Debbie, Avril Cooke, and Neville Scott started to work with Glandore Primary School Headmaster Vincent O’Neill, and parents Noreen O’Mahoney and Kathleen Hayes to make it happen.
Fast forward 15 years, and meet Kevin Hayes, dairy farmer, former senior sailing instructor GHYC ISA training, and Captain of the Glandore Fleet of 13 Dragons. No one in Kevin’s family had been on the water before the national schools programme started, but now there are five sailing Hayes’, Michele, Clare, Kevin, Rebecca and Peter, three of whom crewed at the 2016 Irish Dragon Championship in Kinsale.
And it’s not just the Hayes, hundreds of local youngsters from four local primary schools (Glandore, Leap, Union Hall and Abbystrewry) have been through the programme, which is now run by Anne O’Mahoney. Many of them have gone on to attend further sailing courses, and are now coming back as sailing instructors, either in Glandore, or in sailing clubs in the US, where GHYC graduates have a great reputation.
Interview with Kathleen Hayes
How did you feel when you first heard of the programme?
“Ever since I saw a line of little mirrors coming into the harbor, with the heads of the summer school children hardly up to the sides of the boat, I was determined that someday my children would learn to sail. So we jumped at the chance. Michele was the first, and I went down to the harbor with my camera to watch. She came off the water on such a ‘high’- the fun they had, and the level of excitement- if we could only bottle the joy that those children felt our fortune would be made.”
Was Kevin equally keen?
“He took to it like a duck to water. Normally a rather shy child, he could not wait for us to leave when we dropped him off. Already when he was 10-11, he was helping to teach the children from the other schools. All five of our children then went to the GHYC summer school for the full set of sailing courses, and then did the instructors course. So far Michelle, Clare and Kevin have all worked as instructors, with Rebecca starting this summer, and Peter chomping at the bit.”
And what about yourself?
“I would have loved to sail, but its too late for me to learn. Instead I get out on the water on any boat I can hitch a ride from, and I take pictures. Still trying to capture the joy of sailing”.
A simple idea has changed the nature of GHYC, building a level of local engagement that is not always seen in yacht clubs, and ensuring that GHYC has a very bright future.
Colleen Deas, from Glandore Harbour Yacht Club, a replica of the traditional Dublin Bay class that dates from the 1800's, was sailing in the summer sunshine in Cork Harbour yesterday.
#glandore – South coast yacht clubs are seeking to breathe new life in to Glandore Harbour Regatta this June Bank Holiday weekend. In a combined effort between Glandore Harbour Yacht Club, Kinsale Yacht Club and the Royal Cork Yacht Club a drive is being made to to revive Glandore Regatta.
Berthing will be provided on Glandore Harbour Yacht Club's summer moorings at Union Hall. The club is providing a ferry service to and from the moored boats. There will also be limited mooring at Union Hall Pier available.
Glandore Harbor Yacht Club are organizing a Barbeque on the pier at Glandore at 1700 hours attendee are invited to bring their own preferred drinks. Prize giving for the races into Glandore will take place at 19:00 hours on Glandore pier.
Glandore Harbor Yacht Club ere providing a ferry service to Union Hall after the prize giving for those wishing to socialise in the village.
Schedule of racing
Friday 29th May. Fastnet Race from Kinsale around Fastnet and finishing in Glandore (Sponsored by CH Marine).
Saturday 30th May. Crosshaven to Glandore. The race is open to all Cruisers/Sports Boats and White Sail fleets. This race commences: at the Revised First Gun of 0855 hours from Weavers point.
Note that there is also a race from Kinsale to Glandore on Saturday.
Sunday 31st May. Race from Glandore to Kinsale first gun 10:55. This race is open to all cruiser and white sail fleets. Marina berths will be offered to competing visiting boats in Kinsale on Sunday. Food will be served in the club house from 1700 hours with prize giving at 18:30. There will be a time limit cutoff of 1800hrs for this race.
#classicboats – Among the regatta highlights of this Summer's Glandore Harbour Yacht Club's Classic Regatta will be the attendance of the French built Pilot Cutter Jolie Brise, winner of the inaugural Fastnet race in 1925.
The CH Marine sponsored Glandore Classic Regatta is held every two years in Glandore Harbour and attracts owners and sailors of traditional and classic working boats and yachts from Ireland and abroad.
This year the Jolie Brise is celebrating her 100th birthday this year and will participate in the Glandore Classic Fastnet race on July 23rd.
The regatta will be officially launched next week in Cork city.
"It may have taken a long time but the reward is that we have ended up with a perfect location for our clubhouse," says Commodore Diarmuid O’Donovan in a message on the club website.
The new facility has been funded by a combination of fundraising from past events and a mortgage of €140,000. More fundraising is required to may off the mortgage while the club begins work on the premises to bring them up to fire and disability certification.
"We are a small but thriving club and I am sure this will show as we continue to fundraise for the better of the club," says O'Donovan.
"We have come a long way over the past few years. Membership has grown significantly. We also need to update our sail training fleet and equipment to facilitate the expansion of the club. Junior sailing is the lifeline and future of our club.
"It is wonderful to see the enthusiasm of all involved and I am sure the clubhouse will be a welcome asset for all sailors alike."
Commodore O'Donovan also thanks the club's members and supporters, as well as past and present committee members, for the time and effort they have given to date.
The first Glandore Classic Boat Regatta was held in 1992 under the flag of Glandore Harbour Yacht Club. It was held over a long week-end and the combination of the venue – Glandore harbour’s natural amphitheatre – the warm welcome and the growing interest in traditional boats, ensured its success. It attracted a fleet of local and overseas traditional and classic boats, notable among which were the Galway Hookers, Paddy Barry’s St. Patrick – since lost in Glandore – and Michael Brogan’s MacDuach. A number of features of the first regatta, including the Sunday Parade of Sail, have lasted to the present day.
The 1994 regatta built on the success of the first. It was opened by the
President Mary Robinson and saw the running of the first Glandore Summer
School, which included lectures, exhibitions and demonstrations on the
traditional boats of Ireland. The Sunday night fireworks display was introduced
in 1994 and has been a feature ever since.
The Classic Boat Regattas of 1996 and 1998 also included the Summer School during the preceding week with the boat events largely at the weekend. These years saw the start of the growth of a West Cork traditional boat revival, with Liam Hegarty’s Shamrock and other replica boats. The Ilen, another historic Baltimore-built boat, recently returned from the Falkland islands, was the star of the 1998 regatta.
2001 saw a change of name to Glandore Classic Regatta and the arrival of a major sponsor Venson plc. A sparkling fleet of classic yachts was attracted to the regatta, including our old friend, the Fife Solway Maid and Blue Leopard. In 2001 we also saw the arrival of fleets, the Water Wags doing formation sailing under the baton of Hal Sisk and the first of the Heir Island Sloops, who have become regulars at the Classic Regatta since then. The Elsa and Querida also turned up and had a thrilling personal derby. The Fastnet Race for the bigger boats was added to the programme in 2001.
The fleet motif was continued in 2003 when 15 boats of the Howth 17 Class came to Glandore for a week of sailing, cruising and carousing. The Heir Island Sloops arrived in strength for a week-long regatta and the traditional west Cork types, including the Heir Island Lobster Yawls, were also represented. A fleet of the aristocrats of the classic circuit the Wm. Fife designed yachts, included our old friend Solway Maid, Sincerity and Clio, and also the Cork Harbour One Designs, Jap, Maureen and Elsa. The Fastnet race where Sincerity and Clio battled it out to finish within minutes of one another, was a feature of the 2003 regatta.
The 2005 regatta fleets were augmented by the SOD's the Shannon One designs who enjoyed four days of glorious fleet racing and the inaugural Irish Classic dragon Championship.
The Classic Regatta has developed since 1992 into an outstanding event where the masterpieces of the great age of sail mingle with traditional West Cork workboats for a week of sailing and spectacle. The closing parade of sail and fireworks display have become a must-see on the sailing calendar. This year, 2009, promises to be a great event once again.
Glandore Harbour Yacht Club – mail/post to: Claire Thompson, The Old Craft Shop, Leap, Co. Cork. Tel: +353 28 34676; or club (for contact during the Regatta only please): +353 28 33640
Have we got your club details? Click here to get involved