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Squibs: Free Spinnakers for an 'Explosive' Boat

10th October 2018
Kinsale Yacht Club has a strong Squib fleet Kinsale Yacht Club has a strong Squib fleet

Hello and welcome to my weekly Podcast …. 

The Squib Class are heading for Lough Derg this weekend where the Yacht Club is holding its annual Freshwater Keelboat Championships at Dromineer. It’s an end-of-season event and, for Squib sailors, follows their Irish Nationals and culminates the 50th anniversary since the Squib prototype was launched in 1968.

The Squibs are a fascinating boat, of which over 850 have been built and, according to the Class builders, Parker Yachts, about ten-to-twelve new ones are built annually. The Class claims 600 active members in 23 fleets in the UK and five in Ireland, North and South.

"The Squibs claims 600 active members in 23 fleets in the UK & five in Ireland, North and South"

I’ve admired them at Kinsale Yacht Club where the boats have made their mark and the fleet interest is strong. This week the strength of the Class in Ireland was marked when it was announced that Kinsale will be the location for the 2020 British and Irish Championships.

I’ve not known such sponsorship as that promised to all the boats which entered the  50th Anniversary National Championships of the Class at Cowes in August. Entries were capped at 100 and the Class sponsor, a Leeds telecommunications company, promised a free spinnaker for all boats that sailed. The Class Association is also giving away a new boat. Every member who sailed in any Class event has been allocated tickets for a draw at the end of the year.

The Squibs “are explosive in performance, challenging and fast .. a great boat to sail,” I was told in Kinsale… and that word “explosive” reminded me of the definition of the word “squib” – as “a small firework that burns with a hissing sound before exploding….”

Having seen them race, the hissing and exploding into action does have a degree of relevance!

The original boat was designed by Oliver Lee for then new boat builder, Hunter Boats and the Class has made changes as interest evolved. The dinghy is credited for having led to the building of the Hunter 19, which was described as putting “a lid on the Squib

The Squib also spawned the Sandhopper — a boat with shoal draught and triple keels, of which 45 have been built, with racing on the British East Coast.

Joe O’Byrne is a Lough Derg Club Committee member and a Squib sailor. He says that  boats are travelling “from as far afield as Norfolk, Holyhead, Strangford, Kinsale, Dun Laoghaire to join the local fleet..” for the inland racing weekend at Dromineer which he describes as “an end-of-season event for sailors who like the challenge of Autumnal conditions in the vagaries of lake sailing.”

Flying Fifteens will also sail at Dromineer, but those “explosive Squibs with their tan sails in their 50th year will probably be the “star” attraction… though free spinnakers are not on offer……

Listen to the podcast below:

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for He also presents the maritime radio programme This Island Nation on community radio stations around Ireland.

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