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Transatlantic Race Winning Classic Ketch Cuilaun of Kinsale For Sale

3rd November 2021
Cuilaun of Kinsale in her element, racing in a good breeze at Antigua Classics
Cuilaun of Kinsale in her element, racing in a good breeze at Antigua Classics

The 55ft McGruer designed-and-built ketch Cuilaun of 1970 vintage – still renowned for her immaculate varnished topsides even after more than a half century of very active sailing life on both sides of the Atlantic – has to be Ireland's best-known offshore classic yacht. Built at Clynder in Scotland in 1970 to the designs of George McGruer for the late Michael O'Flaherty, she was originally Cuilaun of Kinsale. But with Brian Smullen as an energetic, enthusiastic and very effective sailing master, she was soon logging many miles to other place beyond the horizon.

In time, she simply became Cuilaun, and her ownership became jointly in the names of Michael and Brian. If anything, the yearly mileage increased, and often at very good speeds, so much so that in 1979 she won the International Transatlantic Race to Cork, albeit in flat-out racing mode as her crew included several noted hotshots including a future Commodore of the RORC.

"Wrap the green flag round me…." Wherever she may ultimately have been based, Cuilaun's heart stayed in Ireland, as demonstrated here as her crew determinedly make the best of winds rather lighter than she prefers."Wrap the green flag round me…." Wherever she may ultimately have been based, Cuilaun's heart stayed in Ireland, as demonstrated here as her crew determinedly make the best of winds rather lighter than she prefers.

So ubiquitous was her life-enhancing presence that for many years, whether it was in Antigua, Newport, Maine, Glandore, Cowes, Saint-Tropez or wherever, the fleet in a Classics Regatta never seemed quite complete without Cuilaun in the midst of it, allegedly "just a comfortable and elegant cruising ketch", yet sailing with a performance which went well beyond that.

Now, after 51 years of great sailing and much enjoyment supported by an annual maintenance programme of world standard, Cuilaun is for sale for the first time through noted brokers Sandeman.

"The Life-Enhancer" – Cuilaun adding style to the Glandore Classics. Photo" Gary Mac Mahon"The Life-Enhancer" – Cuilaun adding style to the Glandore Classics. Photo" Gary Mac Mahon

Published in Boat Sales
WM Nixon

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WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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