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Ringsend Skiff Breaks Three-Hour Barrier in Dun Laoghaire’s Hobblers Challenge

4th September 2011
Ringsend Skiff Breaks Three-Hour Barrier in Dun Laoghaire’s Hobblers Challenge
Ten boats comprising of men's, women's and mixed crews from four East Coast skiff rowing clubs set off yesterday on the end-of-season Hobblers Challenge, a gruelling 25km rowing race from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to the Kish Lighthouse and back, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Ringsend based St. Patrick's Rowing Club boat Naomh Padraig, under the coxswain of Ken Cunningham, crossed the winning line at the harbour-mouth in a time of 2:57:36 to take the coveted cup. In addition to breaking the three-minute barrier, the St Patrick's men shaved almost six minutes off the time of last year's victors, Stella Maris Rowing Club, also from Ringsend.

Courtown Harbour Rowing Club took second place in a time of 3:3:19 and third place honours went to Stella Maris Rowing Club with a time of 3:16.00. The hosts of the Hobblers Challenge, St. Michaels Rowing Club based out of the Coal Harbour, passed under the high walls of the East Pier Lighthouse and battery some two minutes later in fourth place.

The annual event (for race-route click HERE) was only re-introduced onto the race calendar last year after a break of several years. The skiffs were launched at the Coal Harbour slipway where they headed over to line-up for the starter's gun opposite the Hobbler's Memorial located on the publicly accessible Eastern Breakwater which is between the Stena Line HSS fast-ferry berth and the Dun Laoghaire Marina.

In attendance to greet the start of the race in memorial of the Dublin Bay hobblers was the RNLB Anna Livia of the local RNLI lifeboat station. The bronze memorial depicts a tower of lifejackets in commemoration of three young Dun Laoghaire hobblers who after piloting and unloading the schooner Jealous of Me in Ringsend, failed to return home.

This occupation was carried out by men also from Ringsend, Dalkey and other harbours and it was the first crew to reach a ship and throw a hook on the deck who would win the business of pilotage and unloading in Dublin Port.

Crews would think nothing of rowing out to the Kish Bank on the hope of spotting a ship. If they waited offshore and no passing trade appeared along the East Coast the craft doubled as a bed if it became too late to row home. The craft were much larger and heavier compared to the present day skiff and it is in these oarstrokes that the Hobblers Challenge follows the original race of the hobblers during the 18th and 19th centuries.

It was apt that on the same day of this year's Hobblers Challenge, the 107-year-old ketch Bessie Ellen, a former cargo-carrying vessel that represented one of the last such sail-trading ships operating in the Irish Sea, was making a passage to the east of the Kish Bank.

To read more about the un-manned Kish Lighthouse click this HERE, and for the 150 cargo tons capacity ketch built in 1904 click HERE.

Published in Dublin Bay
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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