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Displaying items by tag: Water Wag

In times of stress like this, there is nowhere more soothing than a well-organised but not unduly fussy timber workshop where each day's harmonious effort shows a tangible result. And of all such workshops, there's nowhere so healthily absorbing – both mentally and physically - than a place where they build wooden boats. For not only is something of beauty being created in time-honoured style in a material for which we feel an instinctive affinity, but at the end of it all you have a work of practical art in which it is possible to sail away, and for a little while at least, escape the tedious everyday concerns of shore life.

That said, it is a fact that in Ireland the best of our classic classes continue to thrive, and have new boats built, not only because the owners are enthusiastic appreciators of ancient style, but because the boats provide excellent one-design racing. The importance of good and demonstrably fair sport should never be under-estimated, and thus at various stages of the building, the normal mood of calm creation is interrupted by the scheduled visit of the class measurer.

Happily, things are now at such a steady throughput of production that the Visit Of The Measurer is a social occasion of ceremony and well-formatted routine rather than a nightmare, as the secret is to have the measurer involved from a very early stage, which is easily achieved in a country the size of Ireland. 

the sweet interior of a new-built classic wooden hull at its best with Shindilla in AthloneJust inhale gently but steadily – the sweet interior of a new-built classic wooden hull at its best with Shindilla in Athlone. Photo: Cathy Mac Aleavey

Thus there are several timber boatbuilding or restoration projects underway at the moment, and while there are some we'll be looking at in due course, today it is intriguing to draw comparisons between jobs under way in Athlone, Howth and Kilrush.

Along the Shannon above Athlone, we recently lost one of Ireland's greatest-ever boatbuilders with the death at the age of 94 of Jimmy Furey of Mount Plunkett near Leecarrow in Roscommon. Busy to the end, in his later days he worked with several boatbuilding development projects with former Olympic sailor and round Ireland record-holder Cathy Mac Aleavey, together with another of those seemingly born-to-it boatbuilders who emerge in the Athlone region, Dougal McMahon.

Working with Jimmy, a project had been coming along to build a replacement for the well-worn Dublin Bay Water Wag Shindilla, a 1932 veteran originally built for Ninian Falkiner who was later a noted offshore cruiser and Commodore of the Royal Irish YC, while Shindilla stayed within the extended family as his daughter married into the Collen family, and it is the Collens who have ensured that Shindilla lives anew. The work has been completed in a shed provided by Dougal's father in Athlone, who may have been an engineering bridge-builder by profession, but he's no slouch at the wooden boatbuilding himself.

The 1963 Tyrrell-built Harklow is Dougal McMahon's current restoration projectThe 1963 Tyrrell-built Harklow is Dougal McMahon's current restoration project

With Shindilla completed, Dougal, is spending the rest of the winter on a restoration job in a bigger shed in Portumna on the classic Shannon cruiser Harklow, originally built by Jack Tyrrell of Arklow for sailing legend Douglas Heard (he won the first Helmsman's Championship in 1946) and now owned by Half Ton Racing ace Johnny Swann.


Johnny grew up in Howth, and just round the corner from his family home, recently-retired airline captain Gerry Comerford is building what looks like being the strongest Howth 17 ever constructed, the completely new Anna, which is named for his mother. With laminated backbone and frames, and king-size stainless steel floors make up by a steel-working genius in Clontarf, you might well be concerned that Anna will come out over-weight, but this doesn't seem to be a bother among Howth 17 folk.

The latest Howth 17 Anna is currently under construction by owner Gerry Comerford at his home in HowthThe latest Howth 17 Anna is currently under construction by owner Gerry Comerford at his home in Howth

For they well remember that many years ago when all the local cruisers had to be weighed to comply with Channel Handicap Measurement requirements, the Howth 17s got hold of the load cell for a day or two to weigh their own boats at launching time. They found that despite the mostly very old boats being only 22ft 6ns LOA (they go back to 1898), there was a half-ton range in their measured weights. Yet, to everyone's surprise, it was the class's most renowned light airs flyer which was the heaviest boat of all…

Howth 17 measurer Rupert Jeffares with new owner-builder Gerry Comerford and AnnaSinging from the same hymn sheet – Howth 17 measurer Rupert Jeffares with new owner-builder Gerry Comerford and Anna. Photo: Ian Malcolm

Regardless of weight, Anna will certainly have the correct dimensions, as class measurer Ruper Jeffares – for many years the Executive Secretary of Howth Yacht Club – lives close, just down the hill, and dropping by Gerry's house to see how Anna is coming along is always of interest, for in their long existence, only two other Howth 17s have ever actually been built in Howth, and that was way back in 1988.

Howth 17 Anna was going to be built extra-strongAt an early stage, it was abundantly evident that Anna was going to be built extra-strong. Photo: Ian Malcolm 

Thus although the building of Anna has been going on for four years, now that Gerry has retired from the day job he'd better get a move on. For as soon as the lockdown eases, current Howth 17 National Champion Shane O'Doherty (he won it in August with the 1900-vintage Pauline) will resume his popular guided Hill of Howth Hiking Tours, and "Traditional Boat-building with Gerry and Anna" could easily become a must-see stopover on the way over the hill, but a formidable distraction from Work in Progress….


Meanwhile, across country in Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary, Steve Morris and his team - having launched the newly-built electrified Galway Bay gleoiteog Naomh Fanchea last week – have now returned to full focus on the latest pair of re-born Dublin Bay 21s, Maureen and Estelle, for the DB21 project by Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra.

With boatbuilders of the enormous experience of Steve himself, together with Dan Mill and James Madigan (who is of Kilrush, but was much involved with the Ilen project in Limerick) the actual building has an educational element, and apprentice Kate Griffiths was working and learning today (Tuesday) with Dan on Maureen, battening off the new hull prior to laminating the light timbers (two per bay) between the main frames, while nearby James was fairing out Estelle's new deck, which is of laminated Douglas fir beams and carlins.

The 1903 Dublin Bay 21 Maureen continues to re-emerge in Kilrush with apprentice boatbuilder Kate Griffiths (behind boat) and master shipwright Dan MillThe 1903 Dublin Bay 21 Maureen continues to re-emerge in Kilrush with apprentice boatbuilder Kate Griffiths (behind boat) and master shipwright Dan Mill. Photo: Steve Morris

For sure, there are modern epoxies and other chemicals involved in this form of boatbuilding, just as there is with Anna across in Howth and also – though to a very much lesser extent - with Shindilla in Athlone. But nevertheless, in all cases, the abiding impression of the dominant material in use is wood, glorious wood. 

James Madigan at work n the new deck on the DB21 EstelleJames Madigan at work n the new deck on the DB21 Estelle. Photo: Steve Morris

Published in Dublin Bay 21

With a turnout of 24 boats keen to enjoy the benefit of sunshine at sea while the mist gloomed over the land, the Dublin Bay Water Wags continued to push the truncated 2020 season to its limits on Wednesday evening. They'd good racing with a relatively rare if light onshore nor’east breeze blowing into the harbour, providing some new twists on tactics. With a history going back to 1887, the class has trophies for every contingency, and winners on the water Tim & Marcus Pearson with Little Tern have set themselves on course for the Meldon Mirror by taking the overall win in what will be be the first of two races for the Meldon’s reflected glory. Ian & Judith Malcolm with Barbara were second overall, and by so doing they also won Division 1A. There, the trophy was a more poignant affair, the Great War relic of a Shell Case which was presented by the Findlater family to commemorate the three Water Wag sailors who died at Gallipoli in World War I.

Water Wags found it well worth the effort going racing on Wednesday eveningMurky mist over the town, but sunshine on the harbour - the Water Wags found it well worth the effort going racing on Wednesday evening. Photo: Cathy Mac Aleavey

It was a telling reminder of just how far away that particular military disaster seemed at the time in Ireland, as the Malcolm’s boat was being built to completion by Gray of Kingstown at the time of the Gallipoli Landings in 1915, though before the year was out, all sailing was finished for the duration. Wednesday night’s third trophy, the Commemoration Cup for Division 2, had more cheerful longterm associations, as it was won by the newest boat in the fleet, Mandy Chambers’ Siskin crewed by Sue Westrup. Created in a boat-building school in San Sebastian in northern Spain, Siskin has the coveted sail number 50. But the class are very strict in allocating sail numbers, and the lavish care and attention now applied to the classic Water Wag fleet has not always been the case. Thus it could well be that as many as 65 boats have been built to Maimie Doyle's transom-stern design which became the 1900 version of the class, but inevitably some have simply faded away over the years.

Autumn timing to perfection – sunset developing stylishly as Barbara (8, Ian & Judith Malcolm), Hilda (49, Martin & Triona Byrne) and overall winner Little TernAutumn timing to perfection – sunset developing stylishly as Barbara (8, Ian & Judith Malcolm), Hilda (49, Martin & Triona Byrne) and overall winner Little Tern (36, Tim & Marcus Parson) close in on the finish. Photo: Cathy Mac Aleavey

Tagged under

The 1906-built Dublin Bay Water Wag Pansy has been in the ownership of the Delany family since 1939. But while she has won many trophies, the absence of medals as prizes in local One Design racing has meant that winning one has been something rare and special, to be celebrated in depth and at leisure. In fact, the last time Pansy won a significant medal was thirty-six years ago, at the Centenary Regatta of Dublin Bay Sailing Club in 1984, when she was sailed to victory by Water Wag legend Alf Delany.

Once upon a time, Alf had the great Eric Tabarly as guest helm on board. But that only served to demonstrate that Pansy definitely needs a Delany to do the driving. These days, the driving Delany is Alf’s son Vincent. And now, Vincent can savour something similar to winning the 1984 medal, because although the main part of the National YC’s 150th Anniversary Regatta is going to be raced this Saturday (September 5th), in best Dun Laoghaire harbour style the weekly Wednesday evening contest of the historic Water Wag class was rated as the opening event of the Sesquicentennial Celebration. And in a fleet of 22 classic clinker-built boats yesterday (Wednesday) evening, Vincent and Pansy were in cracking form, clinching the win and being awarded the first Sesquicentennial Medal by NYC Commodore Martin McCarthy at a socially-distanced post-race dinner in the NYC clubhouse this week.

Still in the medals, and it only took 36 years…..Pansy’s prizes from 1984 and 2020Still in the medals, and it only took 36 years…..Pansy’s prizes from 1984 and 2020

Published in National YC

When the Dublin Bay Water Wags started racing 133 years ago in 1887, every boat had a Spinnaker Guy, and a vital role he played too in dealing with the eternal contest with Tidal Eddy. So far, however, there’s no word that a Lazy Jack or a Bob Stay has been seen racing aboard any of these historic boats. But it seems that the Guys are now to be found everywhere, even on the helm, and of course they’re all Good Guys to a man - or indeed a woman, should it be Mrs Guy.

This all came to a weird sort of peak yesterday (Wednesday) evening, when perfect sunlit racing conditions rounded out a classic ridge day, providing sailing prospects so encouraging that, despite the dampening effects of social distancing and whatever, the class had its best turnout of 2020 thus far, 25 boats being on the line for two races sent off by the ubiquitous Con and Cathy Murphy.

The “weird peak” emerged from the fact that the first race was won by Guy O’Leary, while the second – after a slight kerfuffle towards the finish line with that Howth guy Ian Malcolm racing the 1915-vintage Barbara – was won by Guy Kilroy. Other guys and gals figured in the top results, but for the moment it’s enough to be contemplating this Guyfest at the front of the fleet, when you remember it was in a fleet already deploying 25 Spinnaker Guys.

Classic summer evening in Dun Laoghaire as 27 guys are busy downwind in the Water Wags Classic summer evening in Dun Laoghaire as 27 guys are busy downwind in the Water Wags. Photo: Con Murphy

Published in Water Wag

A while back, the off-the-wall idea was mooted of creating a line of quality face-masks, tastefully printed or even embroidered with sailing and yacht club logos. The world of high fashion was already on to the idea of designer-labelled COVID-contesting kit, and in our more sedately-minded sport, some of us were thinking it might soon become a good idea to have logo-featuring facial covering if the pesky disease thing didn’t go away, thereby requiring us to make mask-wearing as nearly trendy as possible, with - in some cases - the useful juice of a touch of snobbery to give it spice.

Certainly, it will take something extra to get sailing folk to use the things. For us, they generally come with distinctly unpleasant associations, because for anyone who runs a boat with a touch of DIY effort, facemasks are part of the scenario, and they are inextricably linked with the most horrible jobs of all, such as getting the anti-fouling racing-smooth in under the aft end. And though you should of course also be wearing goggles, many don’t, while those of us wearing spectacles find our misery with specs is exacerbated with a mask by seeing everything through thickening mist.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club’s very elegant burgeeThe Royal Cork YC’s very elegant burgee. In these extremely challenging times, would people be more prepared to wear a proper face mask if it incorporated their club’s logo?

Of course, I’m not suggesting you should immediately use your crisp new club logo-embellished quality facemask for those nasty jobs. But that said, after this coronavirus has been stalking us for a year or two, a certain cachet will attach to arriving down to join your work team of crewmates under the mighty ship, and attacking the preparation work on the nether parts of the vessel attired with an obviously very well-worn washable Royal Cork Yacht Club face mask to protect your schoolgirl complexion, and keep those nauseous fumes and poisonous particles out of the vital tubes.

It reminds me of when I first met up with American sailors wearing the always-trendy Sperry Top-Sider deck shoes. This wasn’t until the 1960s, yet the Top-Siders had been around since 1935, when Paul Sperry had become mighty inventive with non-slip soles after slithering over the side of his boat one night in Long Island Sound while wearing the usual glorified tennis shoes which passed for deck shoes in those days.

His eventual creations, with the uppers based on moccasin design, were soon fashionable, and even in the late 1960s, they still looked so good by comparison with anything in Europe that they were the height of style, and never more stylish than when looking well worn, as though they’d notched a Bermuda Race and then a Fastnet Race as well.

No gentlemen would ever wear shiny new Top-Siders“No gentlemen would ever wear shiny new Top-Siders.” An advertisement honouring product longevity from an era when people wore yachting caps on every possible occasion, and planned obsolescence was only a gleam in some asset strippers eye

In fact, while I sometimes saw an American wearing an immaculately-polished pair of Top-Siders, there was never any doubt that this was well-loved footwear of considerable vintage, and it was virtually unknown to see anything remotely like a new pair of Top-Siders. Apparently the secret behind this was that, when you finally did have to buy a new pair, you’d get your gardener to wear them for a busy fortnight or even a month before you’d dream of using them yourself……

Royal Ocean Racing Club

We can’t of course get some obliging employee to wear our club-logo facemask to give it honourable venerability, but how the idea of such facemasks turn out will become part of the quaint world of club regalia folklore. Club cravats and bow ties are really a bit too much for most of us, but once upon a time, when people still wore ties, the seahorse-logo neck-tie of Royal Ocean Racing Club (where our own Laura Dillon is currently Rear Commodore) was quite the thing to be qualified to wear, and one evening in that wonderful RORC clubhouse in the heart of London, a fresh-faced young offshore-racing enthusiast burst into the bar and brightly announced to Douglas Campbell, the 100% proof Scottish barman, that he’d just become a member, and would like to buy a tie.

An architectural gem and a nautical powerhouse in the heart of London – the RORC Clubhouse, once ruled by the legendary Douglas CampbellAn architectural gem and a nautical powerhouse in the heart of London – the RORC Clubhouse, once ruled by the legendary Douglas Campbell

Laura Dillon, RORC Rear Commodore, is still the only woman sailor to have won the All-Ireland Helm ChampionshipLaura Dillon, RORC Rear Commodore, is still the only woman sailor to have won the All-Ireland Helm Championship

Douglas had a Scots accent so deep and growly you could have run the lighting off it, so he just looked up from under his heavy eyebrows and gruffly demanded: “Silk or Terylene?”

Younger readers, ie anyone under the age of about 60, will need to know that Terylene was the fancy new world-beating synthetic fibre which eventually became known, American-style, as Dacron. Our new young member back in the day in the RORC knew exactly what it meant, but he needed to be apprised of the full significance of the choice, so he responded: “I just don’t know Douglas, which do you recommend?”

Douglas ground out the reply, with his deep slow voice made even slower and deeper and growlier by this over-keen assumption of first-name familiarity:

“Well, if you just want to hold the trousers up, the silk will do. But if you need to start the outboard, then it has to be the Terylene”.

That was then, nowadays people need to be told that many offshore racers’ tenders carried quaint Seagull outboards which you started by winding a removable pull-rope round a wheel on top, and in extemis in the absence or breakage of that pull-rope, you were well stuck if somebody’s tie wasn’t up to the job – it was no laughing matter.

And nor is COVID-19, but heaven knows we need something to brighten our days as the full effects of this pandemic threaten to embrace us again in Lockdown claustrophobia, and we find that our news of sailing sport is increasingly reliant on local events which would probably be much happier to be left on their own to get on with their usually fairly private sailing.

Peter Courtney racing Howth 17 Oonagh – his family first became involved in the Howth 17 class in 1907   Family affair. Peter Courtney racing Oonagh – his family first became involved in the Howth 17 class in 1907

As the dates of what would have been major national and international fixtures come and go with events un-sailed in this pandemic-constrained season, we find we’re cherishing the more manageable second-tier fixtures with a strong home-club bias which can still be staged with the proper controls in place. These are events which will probably have a slightly quirky character combined with a distinct local flavour which will provide an inbuilt level of crowd-control in these strange times.

For they are indeed strange times when, for long enough, it had seemed that “Three’s a crowd” was the mantra of the day, with social-distancing providing the code. And even now when the basics seem to be that we’re allowed close groups of ten if we watch our manners, we must always remember the ultimate fallback ruling is: “If in doubt, stay at home”.

In those circumstances, how do you transfer the safety of home and its instinctively-known rules and restraints into the fluid sociable structures of the group behaviour which used to be the natural basis of sailing’s shoreside post-race gatherings?

Dublin Bay & Cork Harbour cruiser fleets

“With some difficulty, and in a mood of constant vigilance” seems to be the answer, as we see modern classes such as the Dublin Bay and Cork Harbour cruiser fleets develop a controlled form of their normally hyper-sociable programmes, while in classic labour-intensive classes such as the Dun Laoghaire Water Wags and the Howth 17s, it seems to be a matter of baby steps - for want of a more robust phrase – as acceptable crew bubbles are evolved to make racing possible.

Club cruiser racing returns to Cork Harbour and the RCYC at Crosshaven“Let there be light”. Club cruiser racing returns to Cork Harbour and the RCYC at Crosshaven on Thursday, July 9th 2020. Photo: Robert Bateman

But with every race in a shortened season thus becoming more precious in an already limited programme, people will not lightly relinquish their carefully-assembled crew bubbles for initially attractive short-handed events. Thus when it was announced some time ago that Howth’s annual Aqua Restaurant Two-Hander Race’s format – formerly aimed at the cruisers – was going to be extended to all Howth classes when raced today (Saturday, July 18th), it seemed a reasonable enough idea at the time, when personnel limitations looked like being a central theme of the 2020 season.

Howth Seventeens

However, since then the ancient Howth Seventeens have been carefully building up their fleet afloat together with the maximum crew groupings qualified to race the boats, so now their attitude to the Two-Hander invitation is: “Thanks, but no thanks”.

In a normal season, the 1898-established Howth class would sail an impressive total of between 55 and 60 races. But in this shortened season, even with some add-ons if the Autumn proves clement there’ll be far fewer races, and each one will be that much more precious as a result.

The time-honoured Saturday Howth 17 contests - each one a mini-regatta with the fleet resplendent in their jackyard topsails – have become such a pillar of the class’s programme that the idea of one of them being a race in which personnel numbers are reduced to just two per boat is something which smacks of sacrilege when they’ve found that a Howth 17 will often give of her best with four on board.

Ian Malcolm won the Howth 17s last Tuesday, and then took fourth in the Water WagsClassics addict. Ian Malcolm won the Howth 17s last Tuesday, and then took fourth in the Water Wags in Dun Laoghaire on Wednesday.

In an age when modernity is such a dominant feature of popular thinking, building up such a large group of enthusiasts with their shared joy in racing boats of an ancient type is a remarkable community achievement, but it doesn’t just happen by accident. Slightly interested newcomers are gently but persuasively drawn into the net until they become totally committed class enthusiasts.

And though the boats are based on a revered One-Design concept, an assiduously maintained double-scoring system of both scratch and handicap divisions is a class-strengthening recognition of the differences in human abilities and aptitudes, as it ensures that nearly every boat genuinely wins a prize.

In some ways, this was the biggest difference I noticed when I moved from the north to the south of Ireland very many years ago. Up north, One-Design means One-Design, and the idea of having a handicap division within a One-Design class probably offended against the tenets of the majority religion.

Water Wags

But in Dublin Bay and Howth, handicapping in One-Designs was regarded as being every bit as normal as having handicaps in club golf, and it was something which contributed greatly to the extraordinary longevity and good health of many of the OD classes.

The strong historical basis of all this became evident recently when the Water Wags Honorary Treasurer David Clarke was putting some old paperwork in order, and he discovered that the yellowing documents included a copy of the Evening Herald for Friday 3rd September 1939.

At first glance, you might think the Dublin daily evening paper had been kept because its front page featured disturbing news from Eastern Europe regarding an increasing unpleasantness between Germany and Poland. Indeed, maybe that had something to do with it. But the real reason it is in there is because it includes the DBSC Handicaps for the next day’s racing, on Saturday, September 4th 1939.

The Water Wag Class’s copy of Dublin’s Evening Herald for Friday 3rd September 1939The Water Wag Class’s copy of Dublin’s Evening Herald for Friday 3rd September 1939. You might well think the interest is in various unpleasant events in Eastern Europe……Courtesy David Clarke

…..but in fact the focus was on the handicaps as they applied to the Water Wags on Saturday September 4th. Courtesy David Clarke…..but in fact the focus was on the handicaps as they applied to the Water Wags on Saturday, September 4th. Courtesy David Clarke

And they don’t half bend over backwards to keep everyone in each class involved. Few more so than the Water Wags. They may not match the mixed cruisers, where one boat – the deliciously misnamed Windward – is allowed 41 minutes. But then the Water Wags were allegedly One-Design, yet northern OD sailors would have been appalled to discover that they were so tolerant that one boat – Glanora – was generously allowed all of 15 minutes by the two hotshots, Coquette and Penelope.

26ft gaff cutter Marie (seen here in 1966) was one of the boats featured in the 1939 DBSC handicaps The 26ft gaff cutter Marie (seen here in 1966) was one of the boats featured in the 1939 DBSC handicaps list – she was allowed 39 minutes against the scratch boat, Harald Osterberg’s 14-ton Bermudan cutter Marama. Built by J E Doyle of Dun Laoghaire in 1893 and designed by his daughter Maimie (who also designed the new type of Water Wag in 1900) Marie is still with us, owned and restored by Roy Ashton of Groomsport in County Down

Olympians Finn Lynch & Annalise Murphy

Quite what handicaps the number cruncher of 1939 would have applied to Olympians Finn Lynch and Annalise Murphy who won the Water Wags on scratch this week is beyond the realms of speculation, but those seriously interested in the well-being of grass roots sailing will have noted that Ian Malcolm with the 1915-vintage Barbara (allowed 4 minutes back in 1939) placed fourth on scratch in the Wags on Wednesday in Dun Laoghaire, while on Tuesday he had taken line honours with his 1898-vintage Howth 17 Aura at Howth, a double classics performance which few if ever can have achieved before, and evidence that, truncated season or not, some people are determined to get in just as much sailing as they can in this truncated season of 2020.

Thus they’re now developing the idea that Howth’s attractive marina/clubhouse complex provides an ideal sailing sport setup in the time of coronavirus, as on the land side it’s a completely closed compound which also provides the club’s only access to moored boats in the outer harbour, a closed compound where entry can easily be restricted to one gateway, and registration and contact tracing can be rapidly developed, particularly with Wave Regatta from 11th to 13th September in mind.

Howth Yacht Club’s marina/clubhouse complex Howth Yacht Club’s marina/clubhouse complex provides a usefully-closed compound from the landward side.

Round the Kish

As it is, the sailors of Howth have been quietly putting their good fortune to proper use, with the second race of the Fingal Series being staged last Saturday to see Dermot Skehan put in a masterclass demo with his Humphreys-designed Toughnut to do a horizon job on the rest of the fleet of sixteen in a race which took them out round the Kish, and meanwhile, HYC Cruising Group Captain Willie Kearney liaised with the sailing club at Skerries (where so far as I know there’s still no harbour master) in order to ensure that there’d be enough clear quay space for his fleet of 18 Howth cruisers to berth in a social-distance compliant style, and Skerries Sailing Club obliged.

Meanwhile, we note that the Royal Irish YC is right up to speed with the continuing twists and turns of the un-winding and re-winding of the regulations, with a crisp notice issued yesterday informing members that if they want a beer or two after today’s DBSC race, they must still order food with it.

Some day, some day maybe very distant, somebody is going to set a mighty computer to work at calculating just how much weight the thirstier part of our nation has had to put on in order to be comfortably un-parched, and yet COVID-compliant….

Published in W M Nixon

We think of the venerable Dublin Bay Water Wags as being the quintessential Dun Laoghaire Harbour class. But when the results of their first race of the delayed 2020 season yesterday (Wednesday) evening were analysed, it was noted that the top performers in the turnout of 13 gleaming varnished classic boats included many from outside the leafy confines of South Dublin.

Former Olympian and current classic boat pace-setter Cathy MacAleavey was unable to race owing to having had a hip replaced on Monday (we wish her well), but she made sure her boat, No 42 Molly, was in with a chance through being raced by Olympians Finn Lynch (originally of Blessington SC) and her daughter Annalise Murphy (NYC), Silver Medallist in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Sailing is really going again when the Water Wags make their first appearance – William Prentice’s Tortoise (42), Adan Winkelmann (46) and the O’Driscolls from Lough Derg (15) in perfect first race sailing conditionsSailing is really going again when the Water Wags make their first appearance – William Prentice’s Tortoise (42), Adan Winkelmann (46) and the O’Driscolls from Lough Derg (15) in perfect first race sailing conditions

The 1915-built Barbara (Ian & Judith Malcolm), crossed the in-harbour line to take fourth The 1915-built Barbara (Ian & Judith Malcolm), crossed the in-harbour line to take fourth

The hotshots duly obliged by winning, but the top placings thereafter indicated that interest in Water Wag racing is at the very least a Leinster-wide matter, for although Guy KIlroy of Dun Laoghaire was second with Swift, he’s no stranger to the more remote hidden waters of the North Shannon, while third was also Shannon-oriented, as the O’Driscoll family of Lough Derg YC – noted Shannon One Design sailors – have added a Water Wag to their boat portfolio. To make the spread complete, fourth place was snatched by “the Howth boat”, the 1915-built Barbara campaigned by Ian and Judith Malcolm, who are best known for their links to the Howth 17 class and other classics from the board of their local designer Herbert Boyd.

The classic Water Wag image to launch the 2020 season  - Adrian Masterson brings his boat to the mark. The classic Water Wag image to launch the 2020 season - Adrian Masterson brings his boat to the mark.

After a full lap of the course, racing was very tight for the Water Wags on Monday 26th August for the Single-Handed race as they rounded the leeward mark in Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Our photo above shows No.3 Pansy (Delany) leads from No. 29 Patricia (Croxon), No.49 Hilda (Byrne), No.47 Peggy (Corcoran), No.46 Mademoiselle (Winkelmann) and No. 42 Tortoise (Prentice). Mollie (Murphy) and Moosmie ((MacFarlane) are out of frame and ahead of this group.

Published in Water Wag
Tagged under

The Water Wag dinghy fleet in Dun Laoghaire competed in the second race of their 132nd season of one design racing on Wednesday 1st May.

Three prizes were on offer, division 1A raced the second of three legs for the Newsom Memorial Cup, Division 1B for the Hilpotsteiner Tankard, and division 2 for the Phyllis Cup. Early in the season, one would not expect a large turnout, due to delays in the preparation and varnishing of the wooden boats.

"twenty-eight boats arrived at the start line"

However, the keenness of the fleet was displayed by twenty-eight boats arriving at the start line. The wind blew from the west at about seven knots. The first start with Tortoise and Pansy leading the fleet was declared a general recall, although the fleet were halfway up the first beat. On the second start under the ‘U’ flag on the long line many achieved good starts.

Adam Winkelmann and Doug Smith in Mademoiselle were unfortunate to have a jib halyard failure while she was in second place and was required to retire.

After three and a half laps of the harbour, over which the shifty wind progressively increased to 15 knots at the finish the order was:

Mariposa Cathy MacAleavey and Con Murphy winner div 1A,
Moosmie, Swift, Tortoise, Gavotte, Mollie, Pansy, Barbara,
Little Tern Tim and Marcus Pearson, winner div 1B,
Peggy, Marie Louise, Skee, Scallywag,
Swallow, David and Anne Clarke winner division 2 ,
Vela, Sara, Phyllis, Good Hope, Freddie, Mary Kate, Eva, Polly, Dipper, Sprite, Nandor, and Chloe.

Mademoiselle and Penelope retired.

Next week will be a handicap pursuit race.

Published in Water Wag
Tagged under contributor and sailing historian Vincent Delany will describe the development of one design sailing in Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) and the significance of the Water Wag on display in the National Maritime Museum in the Dublin Bay town,

The talk, on 8th November 2018 at 8.00 pm includes many previously unseen pictures of yachting in Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) Harbour.

This is a unique, illustrated, maritime story of 19th century Dublin creativity, entrepreneurship, craft, competition, decline and rediscovery.

Published in Historic Boats
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The Water Wag season Started in Dun Laoghaire Harbour with a bang on Wednesday last, with a fleet of 22 Water Wags coming to the start line, making it the strongest dinghy class within Dublin Bay Sailing Club. The wind blew from the west force 3-4.

On the first beat most of the fleet headed south towards the old ferry terminal. However the boats which went towards the middle of the harbour did best. At the windward mark, Cathy MacAleavey’s Mollie led from Adam Winklemans Mademoiselle, and Dan O’Connor’s Scallywag. Being a windward leeward course over four laps of the harbour, there were plenty of opportunities for passing.

"Being a windward leeward course over four laps of the harbour, there were plenty of opportunities for passing"

At the end of the breezy race, Mademoiselle won from Mollie and William Prentice’s Tortoise.

For division 1A, Mollie was the winner of the Newsom Memorial Trophy finishing on second place.

For division 1B, Mademoiselle was the winner of the Hilpotsteiner Tankard finishing on first place.

For division 2, Scallywag was the winner of the Phyllis finishing on seventh place.

Next Wednesday, weather permitting, the class expects to have even more Water Wags racing for the handicap race for the Buckingham Cup and the Wigham Trophy.

Published in Water Wag
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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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