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Sutton Dinghy Club Celebrate 75 Years of Dinghies

21st November 2014
Sutton Dinghy Club Celebrate 75 Years of Dinghies

#suttondinghyclub – With over two hundred in attendance, the black-tie Gala Dinner last Saturday (November 15th) marking Sutton Dinghy Club's 75 years of sailing in Sutton Creek was a Who's Who of many of Ireland's top sailors. The event, staged in the Marine Hotel at Sutton Cross where the Club has had its social home going right back to its earliest days, had been a sell-out for many weeks. And in pride of place in the hotel foyer, beside the Champions & Achievers Honours Board and a photographic history display, was a classic International 12ft dinghy, beautifully restored by former Commodore Aidan Henry, a tangible reminder of the boats raced by the Club in its early years.

In his welcome, Commodore Andy Johnston commented that the large attendance was a celebration of Sutton Dinghy Club's significant achievements and contribution to Irish sailing across those 75 years, and thanked Ciara O'Tiarnaigh (daughter of former Commodores Muriel and Riocard O'Tiarnaigh) and her organizing committee for the tireless effort in making the evening happen.

The guests included Ireland's Olympics medalists from 1980, David Wilkins and former Sutton Dinghy Club racer Jamie Wilkinson. Commodore Johnston also welcomed David Lovegrove, not only as President of the ISA, but as a former National and International champion dinghy sailor who sailed under the burgee of SDC for many years.


SDC Commodore Andy Johnston with former junior member Jamie Wilkinson, Olympic Sailing Silver Medallist 1980


Commodore's wife Jane Johnston, Olympic Silver Medallist David Wilkins, and SDC Commodore Andy Johnston at the 75th Anniversary Dinner

The Commodore made reference to the recent launch by the President of our sport's most important strategic plan in many years. Outside of the high performance Olympic sector, sailing at grass roots is struggling and dinghy sailing especially needs significant help and support. On behalf of the membership of Sutton Dinghy Club, Andy said they were very proud of his selection as ISA President, and in welcoming the new strategic plan, he assured him that the members of SDC could be counted on to provide input and support to the ISA if required.

The Commodore also welcomed 12 former Club Commodores (Roy Dickson, Padraig O'Cearbhaill, Charles Sargent, Joe Phelan, Terry Harvey, Ian Sargent, Muriel O'Tiarnaigh, Padraic Boyle, Noel Dempsey, Dick Dunne, Tony Clery and Aidan Henry), and the Club's other living Olympians Barry O'Neill and Dan O'Grady. A special cheer was given for the attendance of David Hogg, the Club's oldest living National Champion, winner of International 12 Championship in Crosshaven in 1949. Also in attendance were 17 of the Club's young and enthusiastic instructors.


Jane Johnston, ISA President David Lovegrove, and Andy Johnston. David Lovegrove attended the 75th Anniversary Dinner both as President of the ISA, and as a former and very successful dinghy sailor at Sutton Creek.

In welcoming the guests to the Dinner, the Commodore spoke about the Club's welcome return to the upper end of competitive racing with good showing in both Mirror and GP14 National and International events this year, and of the opportunity the night presented to meet and welcome many former Champions and sailors from the Optimist, Mirror, GP14, Fireball and IDRA14 fleets down the years.

A brief jog down the Club's memory lane was undertaken by former National Champion and ISA Helmsman Champion Ruan O'Tiarnaigh, one of Sutton Dinghy Club's sailing greats. He mentioned how, from its early beginnings in 1940, Ireland's first ever and still running Team Racing event, the Book Trophy, was inaugurated in 1944 between Sutton Dinghy Club and what is now the Royal Cork YC.


Sutton Dinghy Club is so highly regarded in its local community and on the national sailing scene that the 75th Anniversary Gala Dinner on Saturday night attracted an attendance of 204.

Another pioneering move was the creation in 1946 of the Irish Dinghy Racing Association (forerunner to the IYA and ISA) at a meeting held in the offices of Desmond Keatinge, the then Commodore of Sutton Dinghy Club. Ruan remarked that the Club, though very small membership-wise, has long played and continues to play a significant local community role in addition to punching well above its weight in the national sailing scene.

In listing the Club's achievements, Ruan referred to Sutton's five Olympians - Jem Sullivan, Alf Delany, Barry O'Neill, Jamie Wilkinson and Dan O'Grady - who attended Games in London, Helsinki, Montreal, Moscow and Atlanta. He also spoke of SDC's 35 Irish and overseas National Champions in 19 Classes – they have won more than 115 Championships between them. And he confirmed that the Club has provided 6 ISA Helmsmans Champions winning 8 Championships, with another 3 Junior Helmsmans Champions for good measure.

At various stages Sutton Dinghy Club have been at forefront of Fireballs (8 national championships and 6 runners-up), Mirrors (9 National Champions and 3 runners-up), Optimists (3 National Champions), GP14 (7 National Champions and 3 runners-up) and IDRA14 (30+ National Champions). Many of these former champions were in attendance on the evening.


Andy Johnston with former Olympian, dinghy champion and SDC member Barry O'Neill, and international sailing legend Roy Dickson, a former Commodore of Sutton DC who won his first international trophy under the SDC burgee in 1954.

Ruan's outline of the Club's story was completed with a reference to Sutton Dinghy Club's involvement in International events. Since 1954, when Roy Dickson and Brian Galton won an Inter-Country sailing event in YW Hornets held in Burnham-on-Crouch, UK, the Club's sailors have graced Admiral's Cup and Commodore's Cup teams, taken silverware back from Fireball, Mirror and GP14 Worlds and Kiel Week, and competed at the very top of professional sailing in the Sydney-Hobart Race and Australian 18ft skiffs.

A particular highlight was 1967, when eight Sutton Dinghy Club sailors attended the Fireball Worlds in Bendor in France, with Roy Dickson and Hugh Morton taking third, while David Lovegrove and Ian Baird were fourth. To the delight of the attendance, ISA President David Lovegrove was left speechless when he saw for the first time a snippet of video from this 1967 event including the prizegiving ceremony.

The formal aspect of the evening ended with presentation of mounted Club burgees by the Commodore and his wife Jane to all past SDC Commodores, the four Olympians (David Wilkins, Barry O'Neill, Jamie Wilkinson and Dan O'Grady), and to David Lovegrove. Then in the classic Sutton tradition, as recounted in loving detail in several pages of The Book, the evening ran on well into the early hours, with music and dancing and much reminiscing, a memorable way to celebrate 75 years, and a very special night for a very special sailing club.

More social photos from the night below





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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

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