Courtesy of the Shannon One Design Association:
The Shannon One Design sailboat (known as a 'SOD' or 'Shannon') has a long and colourful history going back to 1920, when it was originally designed by Morgan Giles. Despite its charming looks, the Shannon One Design is a very exciting boat to sail and fleets of SODs have been racing on Loughs Ree and Derg in Ireland since 1922. The racing is very competitive, and the sailing season is filled each year with a wide variety of events. SODA is governed by a committee made up of Shannon One Design owners and sailors.
The Shannon One Design Association (SODA) is the Governing Body for the Shannon One Design Sailing Class. SODA is responsible for fixing the class rules and also for the enforcement of those rules.
The Shannon One Design (SOD) is an 18 foot boat unique to the lakes of Derg and Ree on the Shannon river in Ireland. On the 29th January 1920 a meeting of delegates from the Lough Derg, Lough Ree and North Shannon Yacht Clubs was held in the Prince of Wales Hotel in Athlone to set about the introduction of a one-design class racing boat on the Shannon. The SOD 'Design 102' by Morgan Giles was based on his Essex One Design both in profile and in sections.
The first Shannon One design trial boat was ordered in 1921 from Walter Levinge by L. Graham (Boy) Toler, and named 'Phyllis' later numbered SOD 43 and renamed 'Red Boat' in 1923. The new class should have commenced numbering at No 1, but this did not happen. Numbering of the following boats began at number 32.
The Shannon One Design began to race in earnest in 1922. New hull and sail specifications were adopted in 1989 to take into consideration emerging marine technologies. There is keen competition in the two major regattas at Lough Derg YC and Lough Ree YC in August. The Shannon One design boat register now exceeds No. 175.
Sailing Shannons has always attracted families, and generations in many cases have been involved in campaigning the same boat down through the years. Indeed many of the same family names that attended that first meeting in 1922 still feature in SOD racing today.
The Shannon One Design is a wooden, clinker-built, eighteen-foot (5.49m) racing dinghy, propelled by a single gunter-rigged mainsail of 140 square feet (15.6 sq.m). The boat has a relatively narrow beam of 4 feet 10.5 inches (1.5m), and draws 4 feet (1.23m) with her centreboard down.
With a large sail and comparatively narrow beam, a Shannon One Design is a lively performer, especially in a fresh breeze, and requires a three-person crew for normal sailing.
There has long been a strong boat-building tradition on Loughs Derg and Ree, and almost all Shannon One Designs have come from the yards of skilled local craftsmen.
The boats are unique to the river Shannon and are actively raced in both Lough Ree Yacht Club and in Lough Derg Yacht Club.
Shannon sailing attracts a wide range of sailors from far and wide, not simply limited to Shannon riverside dwellers. At the two main events each year, the week-long regattas at Ballyglass on Lough Ree and Dromineer on Lough Derg, up to 55 SODs have been counted. These will be sailed by a mixture of local sailors and others based in Dublin or elsewhere (as far away as the USA), most of whom return year on year to compete.
Above all, the Shannon One Design class is a lot of fun, in which conviviality, wit, character and friendship are on a par with the high quality of the racing. Individual boats seem to develop their own idiosyncrasies to complement the eccentricities of those privileged to sail them. There is a strong and growing presence of young people alongside the older sailors, and new boats are joining the fleet every season.
In March 2009, Graham Smith profiled the class for Afloat magazine as follows: "As one of the traditional clinker-built boats, you could be excused for thinking that the venerable SOD would be a static class on the numbers front, but you would be very wrong indeed. The number of clubs racing SODs remains at three but with 115 boats on the books, it ranks as a top five class.
That figure represents a 4% increase on the previous year, as new boats are built each year, although the increase is not reflected in numbers racing in the various regional championships during the summer when turn-outs were disappointingly low (the average in four events was around a dozen).
A feature of the year was the wide variety of venues, not restricted to the usual Lough Ree or Derg Yacht Clubs but with events in Kilgarvan, Cong, Mountshannon and Lanesborough, representing four different counties. It also saw four different winners, with Damian Maloney, Mark McCormick, John and Stephen O’Driscoll and Eoin Carroll winning the Easterns, Westerns, Southerns and Northerns respectively.
The Nationals saw a marked improvement in numbers with 26 boats competing at Lough Ree YC, where local hot-shot David Dickson added to his list of successes.
National Champion: David Dickson, Lough Ree YC
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