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Shannon One Designs Emerge Refreshed From Their Action-Packed Twin Centenary Regattas

30th July 2022
The Charge of the Centenary Brigade – Shannon ODs (of all ages) in full flight on Lough Ree with (left to right): 99 (Peter Mulvihill, built 1975); 37 Kiwi (Mags Delany, 1923), 176 (Harman Murtagh Jnr, 2008); 138 (DJ Algeo, 1987); 142 Frank Guy (overall winner LRYC SOD Centenary Regatta and Combined LDYC/LRYC Centenary Regattas, 1990); 71 (Oonagh Reid, 1960); 73 (David Dickson (6th LRYC SOD Centenary Regatta, 1961); 151 (Graham McMullin 5th LRYC Cent. Reg, 1995); 155 (Cathal Breen, 4th LRYC and 2nd Combined LDYC/LRYC Regattas, 1999); 32 (Mary Cox (formally Syd Shine's boat) built 1922
The Charge of the Centenary Brigade – Shannon ODs (of all ages) in full flight on Lough Ree with (left to right): 99 (Peter Mulvihill, built 1975); 37 Kiwi (Mags Delany, 1923), 176 (Harman Murtagh Jnr, 2008); 138 (DJ Algeo, 1987); 142 Frank Guy (overall winner LRYC SOD Centenary Regatta and Combined LDYC/LRYC Centenary Regattas, 1990); 71 (Oonagh Reid, 1960); 73 (David Dickson (6th LRYC SOD Centenary Regatta, 1961); 151 (Graham McMullin 5th LRYC Cent. Reg, 1995); 155 (Cathal Breen, 4th LRYC and 2nd Combined LDYC/LRYC Regattas, 1999); 32 (Mary Cox (formally Syd Shine's boat) built 1922 Credit: Reggie Goodbody

The unique 18ft Shannon One-Designs have lived through some decidedly mixed times in Ireland during their hundred years of setting the sailing pace on the great lakes of our lordly river. And the two special Centenary Regattas at their main centres of Lough Derg YC in Dromineer at the beginning of July, and Lough Ree YC at Ballyglass near Athlone last weekend, between them, certainly provided as much meteorological variation and changing sailing conditions as you’d expect in a complete Irish summer.

Indeed, while Lough Ree mostly laid on two days of lively clearview sailing, it also experienced the sudden arrival of the zero-visibility black rain squall which – further east – was to cause the grounding of the RAF Red Arrows at Baldonnell, thereby preventing their participation in the Bray Air Show.

RED ARROWS GROUNDED, SODS SAIL ON

The Red Arrows may have been grounded, but there was no question of grounding the SODs, as they were already in the middle of a race. And though the whole fleet may have disappeared for a while into a wet and windy black wall, they emerged from it in due course a bit battered and distinctly power-hosed, yet still racing.

Gybing a SOD can become a sport in itself when there’s breeze about. Photo: Brendan ArthursGybing a SOD can become a sport in itself when there’s breeze about. Photo: Brendan Arthurs

All in a row and ready to go at Glasson. Photo: Reggie GoodbodyAll in a row and ready to go at Glasson. Photo: Reggie Goodbody

Challenging the tacticians – a perfectly-set beat. Photo: Reggie GoodbodyChallenging the tacticians – a perfectly-set beat

When we remember that the main focus of the SODs’ normal season is the time-honoured week-long regattas at LRYC and LDYC in August, it speaks volumes for the persuasive powers of Class Chairman Philip Mayne and Hon. Sec. Naomi Algeo and their team – supported by Club Regatta Chairmen John Tierney at LDYC and Harman Murtagh Jnr at LRYC – that they were able to encourage a total of 68 different boats (out of 144 currently on the register) to find the time and energy to take part in one or both of the Centenary Regattas.

Having started so well with the Dromineer event, it behoved the Lough Ree team to up the ante. And in what proved to be very much a family event with at least five families taking part who could trace their Shannon OD participation back to 1922, the guests included Richard Palmer, grandson of the boats’ designer Frank Morgan Giles and keeper of the Morgan Giles Archives, and the distinguished garden designer and botanist Daphne Levinge Shackleton, whose father Walter Levinge of Lough Ree was the legendary builder of the first SODs in 1922 in an output of many clinker-built boats - classic craft which are now central to the contemporary Irish sailing scene and its history.

Distinguished guests. At Lough Ree YC were (left to right) Philip Mayne (SODA Chairman), Daphne Levinge Shackleton (daughter of Walter Levinge who built the first boats of the class in 1922, and many thereafter), Richard Palmer (grandson of Shannon OD designer Frank Morgan Giles), and Reggie Goodbody of Lough Derg, “Father of the Class”. Photo: SODADistinguished guests. At Lough Ree YC were (left to right) Philip Mayne (SODA Chairman), Daphne Levinge Shackleton (daughter of Walter Levinge who built the first boats of the class in 1922, and many thereafter), Richard Palmer (grandson of Shannon OD designer Frank Morgan Giles), and Reggie Goodbody of Lough Derg, “Father of the Class”. Photo: SODA

And their catchment area is spreading, as the Lough Derg and Lough Ree events drew in sailors from many parts of Ireland, the spirit of it all being captured by John Horgan of Cork racing 167 on Lough Ree with his three young sons as crew: “They’re keeping a diary” he quipped, “and they plan to read it out at the 150th Anniversary Regatta…..”

A class for all ages and all counties. John Horgan and his sons from Cork, with spice added by the Saturday Committee Boat, ICC Commodore Davie Beattie’s 1913-vintage 47ft Dutch lemsteraak Schollevaer. The youthful Horgan crew were keeping a Centenary Diary which they plan to read out at the SODs’ 150th Anniversary Regattas in 2072.  Photo: Sarah GroarkeA class for all ages and all counties. John Horgan and his sons from Cork, with spice added by the Saturday Committee Boat, ICC Commodore Davie Beattie’s 1913-vintage 47ft Dutch lemsteraak Schollevaer. The youthful Horgan crew were keeping a Centenary Diary which they plan to read out at the SODs’ 150th Anniversary Regattas in 2072. Photo: Sarah Groarke

CHALLENGING FORECAST

With quite a challenging forecast, Race Officer Owen Delany (a former Olympian) and an experienced team including Alan Algeo had their work cut out to implement a programme which included a racing diversion into the Inner Lakes and Saturday lunch for the fleet and their shoreside supporters at Jane English & Ray Byrne’s Wineport Lodge, nowadays a hospitality venue of international renown, but its origins are very much within the Lough Ree sailing community.

It was shaping up to be the kind of weekend that could bring all sorts of weather – and it did. Photo: SODAIt was shaping up to be the kind of weekend that could bring all sorts of weather – and it did. Photo: SODA

It’s a community of many complex interactions and multiple family connections, so we’re obliged to Mags Delany for this insider’s view of what went on:

“Lough Ree SODA 100th Anniversary Regatta, 23rd & 24th July 2022.

“Fifty Shannon One Designs registered for the second SOD Centenary Regatta at Lough Ree Yacht Club, with wind and rain forecast. The weekend started with a Pimm’s Reception courtesy of Lough Ree Yacht Club, which got the celebrations off to a great start.

 Mags Delany racing Kiwi, no 37 and one of the original batch of boats, but diligently maintained and still going strong after a hundred years. Photo: Denis Bergin Mags Delany racing Kiwi, no 37 and one of the original batch of boats, but diligently maintained and still going strong after a hundred years. Photo: Denis Bergin

The first race on Saturday morning was in a southerly wind forecast with winds between twelve and twenty knots. The race committee decided to race with one reef, sailing in the shelter of Sandy Bay.

The first of four championship races with 49 starters was a very competitive contest, with two rounds and a short beat to the finish. The flat waters made for very exciting racing despite the strong winds. Three older boats came to the top of the fleet. Since the Class’s founding in 1922, the listings have started at Number 32, so the winner, Number 50, sailed by Mark McCormick and built in 1925, was definitely a senior. In a tight finish between second and third, second was number 97 sailed by Andrew Mannion and third Margaret Delany in 37, one of the original boats celebrating 100 years.

At the heart of Ireland, this is the lake that thinks it’s an inland sea. Lough Ree is 29km long and 11km across at its widest point. The racing in the Shannon OD Centenary Regatta took place in the southern and southeast areas.At the heart of Ireland, this is the lake that thinks it’s an inland sea. Lough Ree is 29km long and 11km across at its widest point. The racing in the Shannon OD Centenary Regatta took place in the southern and southeast areas.

Threading the maze of the Inner Lakes with Frank Guy’s 142 in the lead. Photo: Reggie GoodbodyThreading the maze of the Inner Lakes with Frank Guy’s 142 in the lead. Photo: Reggie Goodbody

Reading the breeze in the trees is one of many required skills for SOD racing. Photo: SODAReading the breeze in the trees is one of many required skills for SOD racing. Photo: SODA

There were times when the sun really did make an effort to break through…….Photo: SODAThere were times when the sun really did make an effort to break through…….Photo: SODA

“One of the buoys that were buoys when I was a boy…” A timely reminder that the River Shannon is one of Ireland’s most historic thoroughfares. As well, this is the first Shannon One Design, built 1922 by Walter Levinge, sailed for many years by Syd Shine who did much to keep Lough Ree YC alive during the recessionary 1950s, and now owned and lovingly maintained by Mary Cox. Photo: Denis Bergin“One of the buoys that were buoys when I was a boy…” A timely reminder that the River Shannon is one of Ireland’s most historic thoroughfares. As well, this is the first Shannon One Design, built 1922 by Walter Levinge, sailed for many years by Syd Shine who did much to keep Lough Ree YC alive during the recessionary 1950s, and now owned and lovingly maintained by Mary Cox. Photo: Denis Bergin

ORIGINAL BOATS BUILT ENTIRELY BY HAND

The second race was a passage race, from Sandy Bay to Wineport in the Inner Lakes. After several recalls, they raced in Sandy Bay before they entered the Inner Lakes. There, they sailed past Quigley’s Marina, where eighteen boats had been built by Peter Quigley between the 1970s and 1990s, and then close to Walter Levinge’s shed, where he’d built over 60 boats between 1922 and 1973 in an era when his workshop had no power tools, as it had no electric supply.

The fleet had a short run past Wineport, where the support teams were well entertained by several capsizes whilst the survivors had a short beat to the finish. TV crews would have been most entertained by the spectacle. The race was won by Stephen O’Driscoll in number 163, built in 2003.

Fresh angle on the Shannon One Designs gathered at Wineport. Photo: SODAFresh angle on the Shannon One Designs gathered at Wineport. Photo: SODA

An excellent and convivial lunch was enjoyed by all. Both competitors and supporters filled Wineport with a celebratory atmosphere, as so many of these families have known each other for three and four generations.

Back to business – time for a spot of post-prandial racing after lunch at Wineport. Photo: Reggie GoodbodyBack to business – time for a spot of post-prandial racing after lunch at Wineport. Photo: Reggie Goodbody

With a strengthening breeze for the return passage race to LRYC, several competitors choose to be towed back to the club. It was another exciting race which was won by a newer boat number 155, built in 1999 and sailed by Cathal Breen.

One hundred and eighty-five SOD enthusiasts – ten more than at LDYC three weeks earlier - enjoyed dinner in the Yacht Club with entertaining speeches and stories and songs from times past. The Commodore of Lough Ree Yacht Georgina Kenny and Lough Derg Yacht Club Joe Gilmartin both spoke of intense support and rivalry between the two Shannon One Design Clubs. A live band entertained the younger generations late into the night. Once again, Sean and his team kept the pints flowing, and the wines uncorked.

The Lough Ree YC’s hospitable complexThe Lough Ree YC’s hospitable complex

The Grandson of the Designer Frank Morgan Giles, Richard Palmer, CEO of the Morgan Giles Heritage Collection based in Gosport, was a guest for the day. He enjoyed sailing a Shannon One Design for the first time in the afternoon for the passage back to the Yacht Club, and during his speech at dinner, he announced a Morgan Giles Trophy to encourage the future generations in the class. He enjoyed the weekend to such an extent that he now plans to return next year to compete against the locals.

Sunday was not a promising day, with very strong winds and thunderstorms forecast. However, the Race Committee decided that the fourth Championship Race would have two reefs which is most unusual. It ensured that the exciting competitive racing continued and there were no more capsizes despite the stronger winds with gusts up to 28 knots. Andrew Mannion in number 97 (1970) was the winner.

Lough Ree YC Centenary Regatta Chairman Harmon Murtagh Jnr and his wife Susie with yet another generation of sailing Murtaghs. Photo: Helena BerginLough Ree YC Centenary Regatta Chairman Harmon Murtagh Jnr and his wife Susie

The disappointment for the weekend was that it was too windy to run the race for the 16 to 24-year-olds. The prizes were awarded to the best-performing younger sailors in the main fleet. Congratulations to the winner Adam Collison in 144, second Alex Leech (164), third Ben McMullen (147) and fourth Ben Graff (127).

Owen Delany PRO and his team did an extraordinary job in arranging competitive courses in spite of the very challenging weather conditions. This was greatly appreciated by all of the competitors and ensured that the adverse weather did not dampen the mood. And the competitors and supporters were delighted with the organisation by the sub committee from Lough Ree Yacht club of Harman Murtagh (jnr), Erica Mulvihill, DJ Algeo and Frank Rowe.

The winner of the Lough Ree Yacht Club Shannon One Design Centenary Regatta was Frank Guy in 142, built in 1990, second was Stephen O’Driscoll in 163 (2003), third was Mark McCormick in 50 (1925), and fourth was Cathal Breen in 155 (1999).

The Silver fleet winner was Alex Leech in 164, second was Julie Delany in 124, third Ben McMullen in 147 and fourth was Maedb and Aiden Breen in 67.

The results of combined Centenary Regattas in both Lough Derg YC and Lough Ree YC were first Frank Guy in 142, second Cathal Breen in 155, third Stephen O’Driscoll in 163 and fourth Margaret & Peter Delany in 37. The prizes were magnificent, half models of Shannon One Designs skilfully carved by Reggie Goodbody.

Supreme Champions – the winning Frank Guy Team receiving their trophy from Harmon & Susie Murtagh. Photo: Helena BerginSupreme Champions – the winning Frank Guy Team receiving their trophy from Harmon & Susie Murtagh. Photo: Helena Bergin

When you’ve Frank Guy’s series-winning Number 142 well-placed to lee in clear air like this, expect to be observing his transom in due course…..Photo: Reggie GoodbodyWhen you’ve Frank Guy’s series-winning Number 142 well-placed to lee in clear air like this, expect to be observing his transom in due course…..Photo: Reggie Goodbody

Reggie had also generously donated a splendid full model of a Shannon One Design to encourage competitors to enter the two Centenary Regattas, with the winner being decided by a raffle based on participation. The popular winner was William Reid of Lough Derg, owner of 76.

All the competitors and visitors greatly appreciated the efforts by Lough Ree Yacht Club, the Event Sub-committee and so many others who contributed to a fantastic weekend.”

William Reid of Lough Derg YC, skipper of Number 76, won the raffle for the classic scale model of a Shannon OD, and is seen here (left) with Lough Ree YC Commodore Georgina Kenny, and Reggie Goodbody, who made this model and also the Half Models which were the regatta prizes. Photo: Helena BerginWilliam Reid of Lough Derg YC, skipper of Number 76, won the raffle for the classic scale model of a Shannon OD, and is seen here (left) with Lough Ree YC Commodore Georgina Kenny, and Reggie Goodbody, who made this model and also the Half Models which were the regatta prizes. Photo: Helena Bergin

SHANNON ONE DESIGNS GO PRIVATE AGAIN

Having gone so very public for their official Centenary Celebrations during July, the Shannon One Designs are now withdrawing back into the privacy of their rural heartlands and their traditional programme which – as can be seen below – is going to be maintained at an extraordinary pace right up to the threshold of the Autumn Equinox. However, after a month in the limelight, it’s going to be business as usual in an agreeably civilized and muted way. The Big Bang of the Centenary is over and done with. And it has been done very well indeed. But now it is time to move on and go private again. 

  • JUL-AUG 30-5 Lough Ree Yacht Club Annual Regatta (LRYC)
  • AUG 6-7 Dromineer Castle Regatta (LDYC)
  • AUG 8-13 Lough Derg Yacht Club Annual Regatta (LDYC)
  • AUG 27-28 Corrikeens Regatta (LDYC)
  • SEP 3-4 North Shannon Regatta (LRYC)
  • SEP 10-11 Harvest Regatta (LDYC)
  • SEP 17-18 The Wega Weekend (LRYC)
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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