“For many people yacht ownership is enough. They buy a boat and they keep it in a marina and they don’t go sailing very often and they go there for picnics and so on, but for some people you can combine the two and you can get the best enjoyment from your boat, using it, which is the main thing.”
There is a sport of sailing and there is a sport of yacht ownership, glassfibre boats are a bit anodyne and Dublin has the classiest of boats sailing. Those are pretty strong views, but made by a man whose opinions command respect - the exponent of classic boats, yacht restoration and history, Hal Sisk, who I met as he was attending to his Water Wag, Good Hope, which he has been racing for 39 years and that he had brought to the West Cork harbour of Glandore for the Classic Boats Regatta. We discussed what is happening to yacht racing and concern that fleets have been falling off in numbers around the coast. “In 1887 Water Wags gave the world the first one-design boat and we still race them every week in Dublin Bay. When I started in the Class we had five or six racing. We had 27 last week on the water and more young people are joining the Class in which there is a great buzz. That shows what can be done in racing.”
We discussed glass fibre yachts which he considers a bit “anodyne” and doesn’t find them as interesting as the wooden classics. He pointed to the “National 18 wooden clinker boats, a fine boat,” but mostly gone from the racing scene. He contrasted this with older wooden boats still actively racing in Dublin, pointing to the Water Wages, the Howth 17s and the Glen 21s.
Hal Sisk has boundless enthusiasm for the sport which comes across in my interview with him which you can hear on this week’s Podcast. Also on the PODCAST, this Saturday is Whale Watch Day. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has recorded a thousand sightings of whales and dolphins this Summer, but there are fears that ‘killer whales’ could be threatened with extinction in Europe. Whale Watching locations and details are here:
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Tom MacSweeney presents THIS ISLAND NATION programme on radio stations around Ireland