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Galway Bay Sailing Club Hear of Dublin Bay 21 Restoration Project, the World's Oldest Cruiser-Racing Class

24th January 2023
The restored Dublin Bay 21 Naneen sailing again on Dublin Bay in 2021 after forty years ashore
The restored Dublin Bay 21 Naneen sailing again on Dublin Bay in 2021 after forty years ashore Credit: Michael Chester

Dublin Bay's Hal Sisk and Fionan De Barra talked at Galway Bay Sailing Club on the Dublin Bay 21 Class restoration project and the history of the World's oldest cruiser racing class (1903 - 2023).

As regular Afloat readers know, thanks to Sisk and De Barra and a team of boat builders in Kilrush Co. Clare, the Alfred Mylne designed class is now racing again as part of Dublin Bay Sailing Club fixtures. 

The well-attended GBSC event at Oranmore heard Sisk and Debarra recount the story behind the innovative restoration of the 120-year-old hulls that has secured the class for generations to come.

Dun Laoghaire, as the birthplace of the original Dublin Bay 21 class, welcomed home the first of the restored craft in 2021 after 40 years, thanks to an ambitious boat-building project completed on the Shannon Estuary that saved them from completely rotting away.

The Dublin Bay 21 Footer Class Association was formed in 2017 with Fionan as Secretary and Hal as Chairman. As the owner of all six boats, the Association is now engaged in reviving this historic class.

In 2022, Sisk received the International Classic Boater of the Year Award in London for his decades of inspired service to classic craft and sailing history, while his colleagues Fionan de Barra of Dun Laoghaire and Steve Morris of Kilrush Boatyard were also personally awarded - at a ceremony in the Royal Thames Yacht Club - for their exceptional work in the trio's current shared project, the restoration of the DB21s.

Maritime Historian Hal Sisk (left) and Fionan De Barra (right) are presented by Johnny Shorten Commodore of the Galway Bay Sailing Club and Olga Scully with a copy of the Coastal Atlas of Ireland, after a talk on the restoration of the World's oldest cruiser racing class 1903 - 2023, the Dublin Bay 21s, at Galway Bay Sailing ClubMaritime Historian Hal Sisk (left) and Fionan De Barra (right) are presented by Johnny Shorten, Commodore of the Galway Bay Sailing Club, and Olga Scully, with a copy of the Coastal Atlas of Ireland after a talk on the restoration of the World's oldest cruiser racing class 1903 - 2023, the Dublin Bay 21s, at Galway Bay Sailing Club

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

© Afloat 2020

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