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Dublin Bay Sailing Club celebrates 125 years

19th March 2009

This year Dublin Bay Sailing Club will be 125 years in existence. The Club’s story began on a sunny Saturday afternoon, during the long hot summer of 1884, when the big yachts had sailed south from Belfast Lough to take part in the annual nautical week at Kingstown.

The town was teeming with visitors during the third week of July. On Sunday the band of the Highland Regiment played on the East Pier and the attendance, according to a newspaper report, ‘was crowded and most fashionable’. ‘The visitors’, says the report, ‘must have been struck with the beauty of the place and the gay festivity of the scenes, enlivened by crowds of yachts in the harbour and by the number of pleasure boats, principally rowed by ladies in nautical costume.’

The comings and goings of the big yachts received particular attention and readers of newspapers of the time could learn that at Kingstown that year there was moored, among many others, a magnificent eighty-five tonner called the Ajax, not to mention a sumptuous 630 ton three-masted schooner called the Iolanthe, richly furnished and appointed, and belonging to a fortunate Mr. Waller.

It was against this background that there occurred on Saturday, l9th July a modest race (above) between small boats in the vicinity of Scotsman’s Bay.The race had been preceded by a notice in the press – signed by the Hon. Secretary, Mr. Richard Fry – stating that a number of gentlemen interested in sailing had started a club to encourage open-boat sailing. ‘In order to provide as much sport as possible.’

By all accounts it was an enjoyable race, without much wind, and won by a Mr. William McDowell. ‘We hope’, said The Irish Times, ‘they will bring more spectators next time as it encourages the amateurs to see their friends watching them as they slip through the water.”

This was the first race of the organisation which was called at first the Sailing Boat Club, but in a year or two became the Dublin Bay Sailing Club – and now, 125 years on, one of the biggest clubs in the country. Team

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