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Tim Magennis, the doyen of the traditional and classic boat movement on Ireland’s east coast, and one of the main movers in many significant historic sailing events in Ireland and the Irish Sea, was acclaimed with elevation to Honorary Life Membership of the internationally-represented Old Gaffers Association at its Annual General Meeting in London at the weekend writes W M Nixon.

It was a significant annual occasion from which the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association has returned with three major awards. Led by President John Wedick with Honorary Secretary Mark Sweetnam masterfully presenting the DBOGA case, the Irish contingent came back with Honorary Life Membership for Tim Magennis, plus the Cape Horn Trophy for Seamanship which went to Darryl Hughes for his already and deservedly widely-honoured Round Ireland Race with the gaff-rigged 81-year old ketch Maybird, and the “Grumpy Two” Cups, which went to DBOGA member Paddy Murphy of Renvyle in Galway, and his 16-year-old grandson Conor.

classic maybird2Darryl Hughes’ restored 1937 Tyrrell of Arklow ketch Maybird has received many awards for her completion of the 2018 Round Ireland Race from Wicklow, and now she can add the Old Gaffers Association Cape Horn Trophy to her collection
The “Grumpy Two” Cups are for a successful gaff-rigged venture by a senior skipper and a junior crew, and Paddy and Conor were awarded for their success in completing a round Ireland cruise with the restored 1916 Manxy Nobby Aigh Vie. This was a circuit which eventually brought Aigh Vie from the Connemara coast southabout of Ireland to her birthplace of Peel in the Isle of Man in time for the Peel Traditional Boat Festival, then northabout back to the Atlantic and Connemara. It was a major challenge, yet having met them during their circuit cruise, I can assure you that far from being grumpy, Paddy and Conor were notably cheerful in getting on with the task they’d set themselves.

paddy and conor murphy3Paddy Murphy and his grandson Conor – notably cheerful winners of the “Grumpy 2” Cups. Photo: W M Nixo

aigh vie dalkey sound4On her way to her birthplace in the Isle of Man….the newly-restored Aigh Vie coming into Dublin Bay through Dalkey Sound. Photo: Gill Mills

What they were doing was particularly appreciated by Tim Magennis, as he had known Aigh Vie as a fishing boat during his childhood. In fact, he is uniquely qualified to have fulfilled his many roles involving traditional rig and classic boats, as he is one of the few people who has actually sailed round the world under gaff rig. He did so as a crew-member on the classic Colin Archer ketch Sandefjord in 1965-67, and this remarkable sea story was featured on Afloat.ie on 20th April 2013 when Tim was President of the Dublin Bay Old Gaffers Association, of which he'd been a founding member in the late 1980s.

2013 saw the celebration of the OGA’s Golden Jubilee with an international OGA rolling circuit cruise round Britain that came west to Dublin Bay for a series of combined and successful events which became the highlight of the year’s celebrations. Tim Magennis was central to all the organisation based on Poolbeg Y&BC in Dublin Port, and in particular, he was the prime mover in the inaugural staging of the DBOGA Leinster Trophy Race, which brought together a superb fleet of classic and traditional craft from six different countries.

gomes magennis5Dickie Gomes, owner of the 1912-built Ainmara which was the first winner of the Leinster Trophy in 2013, with Tim Magennis, at that time President of Dublin Bay OGA. Photo: W M Nixon

2013 leinster trophy6International competition in the first Leinster Trophy Race in 2013, with the Dutch-owned Raven (left) and Cinemara (also from The Netherland, right) with eventual winner Ainmara fom Strangford Lough between them. Photo: Dave Owens
Having spent his childhood in the fishing port of Ardglass on the County Down coast, Tim had in boyhood frequently been aboard such famous Irish Sea fishing boats with Isle of Man connections as Vervine Blossom and White Heather in addition to Aigh Vie. Thus it was a particular pleasure to him that in July 2018 Aigh Vie reappeared fully restored, sailing into Dublin Bay from Ireland’s West Coast and on her way to success, though not until after the weather had severely tested Paddy Murphy’s work.

Tim Magennis’s own early life-path had been adventurous as an international journalist working mainly in Africa, which meant that the circumnavigation in Sandefjord with the brothers Pat and Sean Cullen started and finished at Durban in South Africa.

But with the Sandefjord voyage completed, he was soon to return to Ireland and settle in Dublin where, after another period in journalism, he created a unique niche to which he was particularly suited. This was working in Public Relations for Bord Failte (the Irish Tourist Board) in the exciting days when today’s Irish hospitality industry was finding its feet, and Tim was frequently its very effective voice.

asgard conserved7The conserved Asgard on display in Collins Barracks Museum – Tim Magennis played a leading role in ensuring that this historic ketch received the attention she deserved. Photo: W M Nixon

This enabled him to refresh his involvement with Irish seafaring and traditional craft, and he was one of those who ensured that Erskine Childers’ historic 1905 ketch Asgard never faded from public memory, such that in due course a full programme was put in place which has resulted in Asgard being conserved to the highest standards by expert shipwright John Kearon, and put on permanent public display in Collins Barracks Museum in Dublin.

In addition to such national projects, Tim himself was acutely aware of the need for individual private effort to save our traditional and classic craft, and on his retirement he took on the restoration of the 25ft 1896-built gaff sloop Marguerite, designed by Herbert Boyd (who later created the Howth 17s) and built in 1896 by Jack Wellington of Malahide.

marguerite 1896 howth8 copyThe new 1896-built Marguerite sailing in Howth Sound in the 1890s. Tim Magennis restored her in the 1980s, and has since ensured her future with “Transference of Custodianship” to Guy Kilroy, who is upgrading this historic craft to international classic standards. Photo courtesy HYC
For very many years, Margurite was Tim’s pet boat, a familiar site sitting elegantly on her mooring in Dun Laoghaire’s inner harbour off the DMYC, and a regular participant in DBOGA events. But with advancing years (he turned 90 back in November), Tim reckoned that he had to ensure that Margurite’s future was secure, and in 2017 he “transferred the custodianship” to Dun Laoghaire-based classic boat enthusiast Guy Kilroy, who has commissioned an up-grading of Marguerite to international standards by noted Fingal-based boatbuilder Larry Archer, a meticulous project which will be completed this year.

The London OGA gathering celebrated such projects, large and small, which are underway all over the world. And for the Dublin contingent with their three major awards, it was a very special gathering indeed. But undoubtedly the highlight was Honorary Life Membership for Tim Magennis, a great and engaging character whose infectious enthusiasm, zest for life, delight in traditional rigs, and joy in sailing the sea continues to be an inspiration for the many who know him

tim magennis9An inspiration to all…..Tim Magennis, now an Honorary Life Member of the Old Gaffers Association, in his younger days during Sandefjord’s round the world cruise in 1965-67

Published in Dublin Bay

It was sun and fun all the way on day five of Panerai British Classic Week 2017 in Cowes, where not only did the participants enjoy some fiendishly tricky racing, but they also finally came together for the traditional Open Yachts Pontoon Party, sponsored by Spirit Yachts and Classic Boat, which had to be postponed from Tuesday because of torrential rain.

On the water the Solent delivered some exceptionally testing conditions as Classes 1 to 4 took part in the Long Inshore Race sponsored by Classic Boat (race six of their series) and the 6 and 8 Metres did two further round the cans races (races six and seven). Conditions were somewhat mixed with a shifty but established south easterly early on in the day. The boats went off the line to the east on a Central Solent course and made good progress until the final reach past Gurnard and along Cowes Green to the finish. By this time the wind was dying and many of the boats seriously struggled to make the line over the strongly ebbing tide. When they eventually did cross, each boat received a rousing cheer from the Squadron Platform to honour their efforts.

Back ashore the Panerai Lounge was buzzing with its usual post racing hospitality, and then at 18.30 everyone moved down onto the pontoons to view and visit the yachts, enjoy free flowing cocktails, delicious food, and live music while they talk classics and generally soak up the amazing atmosphere.

With just one more race to be sailed, a number of the classes have already been decided. In Class 1 Irvine Laidlaw’s Spirit 52 Oui Fling took second place in race six, a mere eight seconds behind Sean McMillan’s Spirit 52 Flight of Ufford with Michael Hough’s Chloe Giselle third. In the overall standings Oui Fling cannot now be beaten and Flight of Ufford is certain of second, but there will be a final race showdown for third place between David Grylls Spirit 46 Helen of Durgan and Chloe Giselle, who are only one point apart.


Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 Laurent Giles sloop Whooper vanquished her rivals in Class 2 with a fifth win today, but whilst she is assured of victory, Gildas Rostain’s Olin Stephens One Tonner Volonte, Andrew Pearson’s 1937Johans Anker Bermudan cutter Bojar and David Murrin’s 1955 Laurent Giles sloop Cetewayo will take the battle for second and third down to the wire.

A very happy Giovanni Belgrano said of their day, “It was actually a really nice day, a beautiful day. My crew were amazing, we made massive gains through crew work. There were lots of [mark] roundings, and I think we were taking close to a minute per lap out of the boat behind us, mostly through the roundings, and that was purely crew work. I’m very, very happy”

Richard Matthews’ 1963 Stella Scorpio took another win in Class 4, securing overall victory from Simon Payne’s 1961 Nicholson Jolina Damian B, who finished second. Third in Class 4 will be decided tomorrow, as John Mulcahy’s 1963 Stella Estrella and Rufus Gilday’s 40sqm Spidsgatter Venya are tied on 24 points apiece.

Class 3 is still wide open. Michael Briggs’ 1904 Fife 30 Linear Rater Mikado won her fourth race of the regatta today, but Jonathan and Scilla Dyke’s 1938 Robert Clark 10 Tonner Cereste continues to snap at her heels, finishing second today and lying just two points behind Mikado overall. There’s then a thirteen point gap back to Scot Yeates’ 1961 Kim Holman 32 footer Stiletto, but Robert Veale’s 1958 Cheverton designed Danegeld and Tim Yetman’s West Solent One Design Suvretta are both still within striking distance of third.

For the 6 and 8 Meters it was a two race day. Robin Richardson’s 1987 Ian Howlett designed St Kitts won both of the 6 Metre races, putting her onto twenty-five points overall and firmly in striking distance of not only second placed Thistle, ownedy by Tom Richardson, on twenty-three points, but also current leader Sioma, owned by Fenton Burgin, who is on twenty points.

In the 8 Metres Murdoch McKillop’s beautiful 1931 William Fife III designed Saskia claimed both races with Christopher Courage’s 1936 Alfred Mylne designed Helen second in both. The only way in which Helen can now beat Saskia is if Saskia is unable to complete the last race for some reason, so although both boats will race tomorrow, Saskia’s victory is very nearly assured.

You meet a wonderful cross section of sailors at this regatta and amongst this year’s competitors has been Annabel Vose, a member of BAR Racing’s Junior America’s Cup winning team, who has been sailing with Sam Laidlaw aboard the 1966 Sparkman & Stephens 37 footer Clarionet. “It’s definitely a change of pace, but I’ve done the week with Rob and Sam a couple of times already, so it’s fun to be back in the fleet. It’s very different to go from 12 minute races to this one which was nearly five hours, but I’m enjoying it definitely. I’m loving it.” Said Annabel after today’s long inshore race.

Tomorrow’s final races will get underway from the Royal Yacht Squadron start line at 10.00 and the regatta will conclude with the Panerai British Classic Week Prize Giving Dinner and Dance at the Haven Events Centre.

Published in Historic Boats
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The opening race day of Panerai British Classic Boat Week 2017 was an absolute scorcher with barely a cloud in the sky and glorious sunshine showing the fifty-one participating classic yachts off to absolute perfection.

The regatta opened with a Parade of Yachts past the Royal Yacht Squadron. Each of the classes and several of the supporting classic motor yachts lined up to parade past Royal Yacht Squadron Rear Commodore Yachting Jonathan Perry who took the salute as the canons fired, much to the delight of the spectators lining Cowes Green.

Unfortunately, the wind was not quite as reliable as the sunshine and a fickle breeze and strong tide gave the navigators and tacticians a lot to think about. The first challenge was getting over the start line safely. The tide was pushing the boats onto the wrong side of the line and the light south westerly was only just sufficient for them to make way against it. Several boats found themselves over the line as the gun went and had to make the slow and painful crawl back up tide to restart correctly.

Once underway the fleet streamed west and into a developing south-westerly sea breeze. The first few legs saw them making good progress, but as they turned back towards the central Solent a competing south-easterly sea breeze tried to fill in too and the net result was a classic Mexican stand-off between the two directions. The resulting game of snakes and ladders was painful for some, but rewarding for others.

In Class 4 former International Moth World Champion Simon Payne, sailing his 1961 Nicholson designed Damian B found both a ladder and a snake, ironically noting, “We led by a country mile at the first mark, but then it all went wrong. We really need more wind.” Whilst Damian B lost out it was a pair of 1963 Kim Holman designed Stellas that showed the fleet the way. On the line Richard Matthew’s Scorpio led John Mulcahy’s Estrella, with Rufus Gilday’s Venya, a 1939 40 square metre Spidsgatter designed by Jac M Iversen, taking third.

In Class 3 Peter Robinson’s lovely Kim Holman Rummer yawl Tinkatoo, built by Stanilands & Co of Yorkshire in 1960, never put a foot wrong. Following them home for second was Tim Yetman’s 1924 West Solent One Design Suvretta, with Robert Veale’s 1958 David Cheverton sloop Danegeld third, and Michael Briggs’ Mikado, a 1904 Fife designed 30 Linear Rater and the oldest boat in the regatta, fourth.

Jonathan & Scilla Dyke’s Robert Clark 10 Tonner Cereste finished the race with high hopes of a second place in Class 3, but unfortunately they had touched two marks during the race and by the time the appropriate penalties had been applied they found themselves down in eighth instead. “I’ve never hit a mark before in my life and I’ve managed to hit two in one race!” Said the slightly embarrassed Jonathan after racing.

Guy O’Bierne, co-owner of Tinkertoo, was delighted with their win, “Today was an interesting day, we’ve not raced since last year, so we just threw ourselves together and went out to see what would happen. The day turned out quite well in the end, we thought we would be around mid-fleet finish!”
Giovanni Belgrano’s 1939 Laurent Giles sloop proved that she hasn’t lost her Class 2 winning ways by beating Lawrence Wride’s Sparkman & Stephens’ One Tonner of 1967 Sunmaid V into second place, with Gildas Rostain’s 1968 Olin Stephens One Tonner Volonte in third.

The racing in the metre boat classes was as tight as ever. In the Sixes, victory went to Charlie Hatfield’s 1946 Nicholson designed Mena with Tom Richardson’s Thistle second and Robert Owen’s Valdai third. In the Eights, Christopher Courage sailing the 1939 Alfred Milne designed Helen took the victor’s laurels from Murdoch McKillop’s Saskia, with Richard Bendy’s Osborne third.

Amongst Mena’s crew is British Double Olympic Medallist Saskia Clark who is finding the transition to big boats interesting. “I’ve retired from Olympic sailing now, and am just finding my way in the big boat world. We’re doing the 6m Worlds in Vancouver in September so this is part of our training for that. Today was our first day racing as a five, and I’m on the foredeck. We had a few little issues, things that didn’t work in terms of equipment that weren’t so smooth. With three Spanish speakers and two English speakers there’s a lot going on to get to grips with. The calmness of my Olympic 470 sailing is a distant memory now, but that’s what we’re aspiring to get to. We’re going to be calm, organised and have routines, it’s going to be good!”

Back ashore the crews took the opportunity to wind down in the sunshine as they enjoyed the post racing hospitality of the Panerai Lounge and the daily prize giving, before moving onto the Panerai British Classic Week 2017 Welcome Reception at the Royal Yacht Squadron.

Tomorrow will see the fleet take on the Around the Island Race sponsored by EFG which will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron at 08.00. For those yachts who elect not to race around the Island there will be an inshore race starting at 10am.

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under

The difference between an un-sailable calm and a light breeze which is just good enough to provide decent racing is enormous when you’re trying to get a very large regatta off to a successful start. So although the fleet racing on Thursday in the first jousts of the VDLR 2017 in Dublin Bay did not include some classes which became fully involved yesterday, all the heavy hitters were out and racing full-on in a sou’easter which was of exactly the right strength for the first race of a large and complex event.

This years’s special ingredient, the Classics and Traditionals racing for the prestigious Kingstown 200 Trophy, also had their first foray afloat, and W M Nixon found himself in their midst wondering at their almost infinite variety, while getting the occasional glimpse of the racing among the modern fleets.

While the Classics may show themselves to be amenable to a certain level of organisation, trying to get a varied Traditional fleet to function in unison is about as easy as herding cats at a crossroads. So when that remarkable husband and wife team of Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey were tasked with setting up a Sub-Committee to look after the special needs of the Classics and Traditionals which were being invited to Dun Laoghaire to compete for the Kingstown 200 trophy within the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017, they found themselves on a steep learning curve, for all that both are already much involved in classic dinghy racing with both the Water Wags and Shannon One Designs.

master frank2Joe Pennington’s 1895-vintage Manx longliner which he restored himself. He turned up single-handed and more or less unannounced, but has been welcomed and provided with a crew. Photo: W M Nixon

Some of the traditional boats plan their programmes years in advance, while others make them up as they go along. So as entry deadlines came and went, it was still difficult enough to give a realistic assessment of who and what would be there, and where and when.

But with Guy Kilroy of the Water Wags appointed to be the vital direct liaison officer for what is sometimes best described as the Awkward Squad, it was clear that the Murphy/MacAleavey team had taken on board lessons learned from other major commemorative regattas, where attempts to include the Golden Oldies had assumed they were as au fait with the local regular racing scene as though who were frequent participants, and they were too often left to their own devices in a strange environment.

By contrast, the environment in and around the Dun Laoghaire clubs this weekend is about as friendy and un-strange as it could be, and at the National Yacht Club – with special berthing for the Classics and Traditionals along a pontoon immediately east of and parallel to the Carlisle Pier - the Golden Oldies have a home-from-home, and the mood was reinforced by helpfulness and friendliness from the start.

mermaid fleet3Although the Mermaids have very little class racing in Dublin Bay, the biennial Dun Laoghaire Regatta at their ancestral home is one of their major events. Photo: W M Nixon

As to the oldies fleet, it may not be huge, but it’s fascinating in its variety, with a stroll down their dedicated pontoon like a visit to a good maritime museum. And when we add in extras like the Fife ODs over from the Menai Straits, not to mention local fleets almost taken for granted such as the Water Wags from originally 1887 but now racing boats from 1900, the Howth 17s from 1898, the Mermaids from 1932, and the IDRA 14s and the Glens from 1946, then we really are looking at a fine array of wooden boats before we add in the “Honorary Classics”, built in fibreglass but of traditional form.

While the One Designs went off to race with the main fleet, Con Murphy himself took on responsibility for getting the “Mixed Classics” cleanly away from a start line in Scotsman’s Bay on a course which he hoped would keep us clear of most of the cut-and-thrust of the modern machines. Our renowned Race Officer was in a benign mood as it was both his 60th birthday, and he was well pleased with the size and variety of the eclectic fleet which was emerging from the harbour and heading towards his starting area.

Con SixtyBirthday boy. While in the midst of organising the oldies and classics in their racing for the Kingstown 200 Trophy, they ever-youthful Con Murphy (seen here with Regatta Secretary Ciara Dowling) celebrated his 60th birthday on Thursday. Happy birthday from us all!

So in the spirit of the regatta and the mood of the day, the great man asked us what sort of course we’d like, and the popular choice for that first race was a nice reach out and a nice reach back. “And we’d like you to finish in-harbour if that’s okay” added our Race Officer. As gaffers think that finishing in-harbour is the only way to finish, that was no problem either.

Although the basic tide was ebbing southeast out of Dublin Bay, right in there in the inner reaches of Scotsmans Bay we found a distinct west-going counter-eddy, and the good news is that it is indeed indicated in the Port of Dublin Tidal Stream Atlas which we featured on Afloat.ie a couple of days ago. But we also had to take account of it in making our northeast-heading start as by now a grand little southeast breeze had filled in. So pre-start manoeuvres were rather more about avoiding other boats than identifying them too close, but happily the fleet got cleanly away, and as we settled down for a good reach towards the seaward buoy, we could suss them out in more detail and assess the cut of their jibs.

periwinkle start4Making in for the start, DB24 Perwinkle, Nicholson 36 Samphire, a brace of Colleens, and an American Morris 44. Photo: W M Nixon

After several major Old Gaffer events in which our boat had raced against Sean Walsh’s Heard 28 Tir na nOg, I’d secured a berth on her with the former International President Old Gaffers Association, which in turn freed up Sean’s crewman John Shaw to go and sail with Joe Pennington from the Isle of Man on the 1895-vintage Manx longliner Master Frank. Typically, Joe had arrived in single-handed and virtally unannounced to take part, knowing he’d find a crew once he got there, and so we found ourselves going through the start line with Master Frank close aboard on the port quarter.

tir na nog5Not a bowsprit to be trifled with……Moving the mast six inches forward has greatly improved the steering characteristics of Sean Walsh’s Heard 28 Tir n nOg. Photo: W M Nixon

Aboard Tir na nOg, we were in test pilot mode, as Sean has had the multi-skilled Barry O’Loughlin move the mast all of six inches further forward. Tir na nOg was always a fast boat, but a bit hard on her helm. Now she’s as light as a feather to steer, and even faster with it's soon we were in the groove with topsail up and picking up places left and right, for our start had only been so-so.

Obviously the newly-returned and beautifully-restored Dublin Bay 24 Perwinkle was going to be setting the pace, and she was soon ahead, but as the race went on it was clear the handsome Welsh visitor Myfanwy (Rob Mason) was going like a train. Superficially, she looks like Hal Sisk’s Peggy Bawn of 1894 vintage, but while Myfanwy at three years younger is unrestricted by Rating Rules which were modified after Peggy Bawn was built, consequently she sets more sail, and this was very much her day.

jack okeeffe8Rob Mason’s own-restored 1897-vintage 36ft Myfanwy from Milford Haven is proving one of the stars of the show. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

jack okeeffe8Hal Sisk’s 1894-vintage Peggy Bawn is sailing with cotton sails preserved by James McAsey, who owned her in Dun Laoghaire from 1919 to 1988. Photo David O’Brien/Afloat.ie

Another boat very much having her day was Jack O’Keeffe’s much –travelled Drascombe. “Drascombes don’t race” the committee had been told, but if Jack wasn’t racing, then I don’t know what he was doing. He had his little floating home in flying mode, and finished the race well ahead of many boats you’d have expected to have had him comfortably astern.

jack okeeffe8Drascombes aren’t designed to race, but Jack O’Keeffe of Cork has turbo-powered his boat to do just that, and he had a great race. Photo: W M Nixo

jack okeeffe VDLRJack O’Keeffe is the very spirit of Drascombe sailing in Ireland. Photo: W M Nixon

Heading back towards the harbour, we’d the remarkable sight of Dublin Bay Colleens and Peggy Bawn close ahead of us – it could have been any season in the past hundred and more years. But we also had a clutch of Ruffian 23s heading towards us with that single-minded focus which is a Dublin Bay One Design speciality, but may not be in the mental makeup of traditional and classic sailors.

jack okeeffe8Frank Larkin of Limerick sailing the Colleeen Bawn in hot pursuit of the Peggy Bawn. Photo: W M Nixon

colleen ruffian11“Don’t you know we’re racing?” “Well, so are we…” Close encounter between Colleen and Ruffian 23. Photo: W M Nixon

Fortunately the Classics Sub-Committee’s forward thinking seems to have included the provision of a RIB to shepherd the Golden Oldies around the close-encounters-of-the-first-kind situations which can suddenly arise in the crowded racing waters of the southern half of Dublin Bay, and they tactfully ensured that no-one met by accident.

The in-harbour finish seemed so right for the day that was in it, particularly as we made it in one tack from the harbour mouth to the line. And the mood afterwards was simply euphoric. Half the fleet had been strangers as we joined ship a bit rushed as usual, we got to know them better sailing against them in perfect conditions for the first acquaintance, and we returned to the harbour as friends.

So it took a long time to get from the boats to the club forecourt, not because there was any delay in the ferry shuttle service from pontoon to quayside, but because there were so many different boats – some of them very different indeed - and people to meet, including Rob Mason and his deservedly exuberant crew, who’d made a cracker of a passage to Dublin Bay, just 29 hours from the very head of Milford Haven, and were now racing with an equal elan.

myfanwy crew12The Flying Welshmen – Myfanwy’s crew with owner, skipper and restorer Rob Mason on right. They made a fast passage from southwest Wales, and have been going even faster since. Photo: W M NixonAnother area of interest was the restored Nicholson 36 Samphire of St Osyth, with which Frank O’Byrne of RStGYC and his gallant team are rightly delighted. They bought her in the south of England with no idea that her first home port in 1963 was Dun Laoghaire with first owner Peter Morck, but now she’s back and a useful indicator for anyone who might be thinking in terms of a moderately priced modern classic such as Brian Comerford has with the Robb 37 yawl Verve of the same vintage.

periwinkle doghouse13Detail of Perwinkle’s coachroof. The quality of the workmanship by Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany is simply breath-taking. Photo: W M Nixon

There are some good boats of a certain age out there just looking for the right TLC to give excellent value, but inevitably in this 200th Anniversary Special regatta, it’s the uber-classics which merit most attention. Periwinkle is simply breath-taking – you just go aboard and sit in awed silence amidst all that exquisite woodwork – the effect of total teak is almost trance-inducing. And last night, the Howth 17s arrived after racing across the bay, insouciant in never having changed from their jackyard topsail-toting gaff rig, so it’s oldies wall-to-wall.

But the sight of sights has to be Peggy Bawn and Myfanwy berthed side by side. 1894 and 1897. Carrickfergus-built and Birkenhead-built. We’ve a remarkable marine heritage in the Irish Sea. And right now, two of the most important examples of it are in Dun Laoghaire to honour the Harbour’s Bicentenary.

peggy bawn and myfanwy14To have two high vintage classic beauties like Peggy Bawn (left) and Myfanwy together in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for the 200th Anniversary makes it all very special indeed. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon

Over the next few days fourteen Water Wags will head by ferry to France to participate in one of the greatest classic boat regattas in Europe. As Afloat.ie reported previously, one thousand four hundred and forty two traditional workboats and recreational boats will head to Brittany from Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Spain, and Japan.

Among the 19 yachts of the Irish contingent travelling to the celebration of traditional yachting are:

Waterwags: 9, Marie Louise (1927), 17, Coquette (1909), 31, Polly (1984), 32, Skee (1985), 33, Eva (1986), 34, Chloe (1991), 38, Swift (2001), 40, Swallow (2003), 41, Molllie (2005), 44, Scallywag (2009), 45, Mariposa (2015).

Howth 17 ft: Aura (1898), Deilginis (1905), Eileen (1908), Gladys (1907), Leila (1898), Silvermoon (1898).

Others: Anna Panna, a Mcmillan gaff cutter. Sylvana, Moody 46 and possibly the only boat which will sail to the event instead of being trailed.

What a celebration of Irish craftmanship it will be.

Published in Water Wag

The last time the Alfred Mylne-designed Dublin Bay 24s raced together in their home waters was Saturday, September 25th 2004 writes W M Nixon. Since then, the class has been through various traumas as projects for a group rebuild/restoration in France fell victim to the financial crisis.

However, the boats were kept in store, and two years ago a complete re-build programme for one of them, Periwinkle, was put into action at Skol ar Mor, the pioneering boat-building school in South Brittany run by Mike Newmeyer.

dublin bay 24 yacht 2Sailing aboard the restored Periwinkle. The quality of the bronze fittings on the mast matches the high standard of the restoration. Photo Brian Mathews

Perwiwinkle has turned all heads any time she goes sailing, but there’s no doubt she’d make most impression in an active class setting. As it is, for this year’s Morbihan Festival of Classic and Traditional Boats in the last full week of May, she’ll be sharing the waters of that noted inland sea with boats from home, as twelve Dublin Bay Water Wags and eight Howth Seventeens are being trailed, ferried, and trailed again to take part in one of the greatest gathering of character boats in the world.

water wags2Water Wags in festive mode for their 125th Anniversary in 2012 at Dun Laoghaire Harbour mouth. In ten days time, 12 of them will be in France en route to the Morbihan Festival

But while the Water Wags and the Howth Seventeen will be sailing in the enormous fleet, Periwinkle will be on static display afloat, alongside the Skol ar Mor booth at the boat show in the port of Vannes at the head of the Morbihan, though there is a possibility that renowned designer Francois Vivier will take her out for a sail. Happily, though, she’ll soon definitely be sailing – and she’ll be sailing to Dublin Bay.

Owners Chris Craig and David Espey are determined to get her back in time for the Classics Division in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from 6th to 9th July, and will be sailing her up from Brittany with a target time of 1st July pencilled-in for arrival in Greystones. Their hope is that former DB24 sailors will then join them to sail on to Dun Laoghaire on Sunday July 2nd.

Dublin Bay 24 yacht 3Class racing act. The Dublin Bay 24s in action at the Dun Laoghaire Woodenboat Regatta 1997. Photo: W M Nixon

As for the rest of the DB24 fleet, their elegant yet tired hulls are finding new purpose in boat-building schools. In September, Adastra will go to Albaola Scholl in San Sebastian in northern Spain, Zephyra is being shipped across the Atlantic for the Apprentice Shop in Maine, and Arandora is to be completed in Les Atelier de L’Enfer in Douarnenez in Brittany. Mike Newmeyer is working on a plan for Euphanzel, and various proposals are being discussed regarding the future of Harmony and Fenestra.

It has been – and still is - a long and difficult journey. But the arrival of Periwinkle in Dublin Bay will surely be a very significant step

Published in Historic Boats

It could be argued that Dun Laoghaire Harbour has never been completely finished writes W M Nixon. To varying degrees, it has always been Work in Progress. Construction started in 1817, yet it was maybe all of twenty or even thirty years before the basic shape of the harbour as we know it today had been finally created. But in 1821 there was enough of a new pier in existence for King George IV to visit and re-name it the Royal Harbour of Kingstown.

By 1828 there was enough shelter available to provide the setting for the first staging of a regatta, and by 1834 the pioneering railway line to Dublin was in existence to accelerate Kingstown’s development as a seaside town and ferry port. Initially, it had been envisaged solely as an Asylum Harbour for Royal Navy and other government vessels seeking shelter in southeasterly gales in Dublin Bay. The ferry port and the rapid growth of a town had not been in the original plan. But ship-owners and property developers had other notions, as they usually do, and the ferries were there from the start.

 The first regatta in Kingstown Harbour in 1828 The first regatta in Kingstown Harbour in 1828

By 1850, both the Royal St George and Royal Irish Yacht Clubs were in existence on the waterfront to provide focal points for the development of sport afloat, and then the cross-channel ferries – which had been making do as best they could with berths along the East Pier – were in 1859 provided with proper berths at the new Carlisle Pier, with direct rail connections.

The Edward Yacht Club – now the National Yacht Club – came into being in 1870 between the Carlisle Pier and the East Pier. However, although the overall outer shape of the harbour was by now finalised, as an 1870s plan to put an extra island breakwater across the rather exposed northeast-facing entrance was never implemented, within the harbour re-shaping of the waterfront continued.

dun laoghaire harbour victorian times It has been suggested that temporary moorings for a fleet of Classics could best be laid in this area – seen here around 1895 – off the National Yacht Club

dublin_bay_24Last of the glory days. The Dublin Bay 24s in their final season in Dun Laoghaire in 1997. Photo: W M Nixon
With this week’s news that transitional teams are already working on the practical issues of transferring the semi-governmental Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company into the overall control of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, a new chapter is opening in the history of this extraordinary place, and eventually it will mean further infrastructural work, which in turn validates our claim that Dun Laoghaire Harbour is almost always to some extent Work in Progress.

So when we have to put a date on the harbour, the only one beyond argument is that work started in 1817 under the direction of the great engineer John Rennie. Thus in the absence of any other date of comparable exactitude, 2017 marks the Bicentenary of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

It was “the new Dunleary harbour” only from 1817 to 1821, then it was Kingstown Harbour for the next 99 years, and ever since it has been Dun Laoghaire Harbour. But if the organisers of next year’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 from July 6th to 9th 2017 achieve just some of their more visionary ideas to attract extra sailing visitors, we may even see a movement to return to the original user-friendly Dunleary Harbour spelling. You’d be surprised how many first-time visitors to the harbour and marina still make an absolute meal out of the pronunciation. And even within the ranks of the Gaelgoirs, there are several opinions as to what is correct.

vdlr 175The restored Huff of Arklow was one of the stars of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 – and she won her class. Photo VDLR

But simplifying the name to Dunleary Harbour is another day’s work. Top of the agenda this weekend is something else altogether - the growing sense of excitement over the fact that Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Harbour’s Bicentenary in magnificent style, and the VDLR 2017 Organising Committee under the chairmanship of Tim Goodbody have been beavering away for some time now on making VDLR 2017 even better than VDLR 2015, which will take a bit of doing.

water wagThe Water Wags started as 13ft double-enders in 1887, but then changed to transom-sterned 14-footers in 1901, and are seen here around 1905

water wagStill going strong…..the Water Wags would play an important role in a Bicentenary Classic Boat regatta within Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017.

Apart from all the other standard-setters, last year saw Volvo Cork Week 2016 having something very special within it with the staging of the inaugural series for the new Beaufort Cup, an international event raced between crews from the Defence Forces from home and abroad, together with marine-related Emergency Services.

It was won by an Irish Defence Forces crew skippered by Commandant Barry Byrne, sailing John Maybury’s J/109 Joker. And one story which emerged afterwards was that it was hoped to make the Beaufort series an annual event, with the expectation of the holders that it could possibly be made part of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017. But the problem with this might be that the Beaufort is going to become such a major happening that it could seriously deplete other fleets in Dublin Bay, particularly the J/109s.

However, in view of upcoming Bicentenary and its celebration, an important aspect of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2015 which was mentioned in one of our Afloat.ie reports at the time was the number of classics taking part. Most obvious were the Howth 17s of 1898 and the Water Wags of 1901 and 1887. But also racing were the Mermaids of 1932, the IDRA 14s of 1946, and the Glens of 1947, while a much-admired presence was the very special superbly-restored Flying Thirty Huff of Arklow.

Designed by Uffa Fox and built by Jack Tyrrell of Arklow in 1950, Huff of Arklow won her class overall under the visionary Progressive ECHO handicap system. In addition, the dinghy adjudged best overall was Ian and Judith Malcolm’s hundred-years-old Water Wag Barbara.

Taking a general look at all this, we suggested that in effect there was an excellent Classic Yacht Regatta hidden in plain sight in the midst of Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, and it might be something worth remembering for future plans. Now the word on the waterfront is that there’ll be a significant upgrade in interest in the Classics at the VDLR 2017, and there’ll be special attention given to enticing historic boats which have direct links to Dun Laoghaire.

Obviously heading the agenda are the great Dublin Bay One Designs, and the whisper is that things are now looking healthier for the Dublin Bay 24s which ended up in an ambitious restoration plan in South Brittany which failed to reach fruition. So it’s not unreasonable to hope that the already restored DB24 Periwinkle might be persuaded home.

dublin Bay 25 The only surviving Dublin Bay 25 is Iona, originally built as Nance in 1899. Currently Dutch-owned and based in the south of France, she is seen here setting her Bermudan cutter rig, but she also has a gaff rig.

But long before the Mylne-designed 24s came into being in 1947, there were the Fife-designed Dublin Bay 25s in 1898, and one of them still exists. These days she’s called Iona, but originally she was called Nance, owned by a man called Cosby Burrows from Cavan, who had her built in 1899 at the Fife yard in Fairlie in Scotland.

That in itself is historic, as the other Dublin Bay 25s – around a dozen in all – were built in the Dublin Bay region. Be that as it may, Nance still survives as Iona, and she’s under Dutch ownership but living in the south of France, restored with such enthusiasm that she can set either a gaff or a Bermudan cutter rig.

belfast lough 25Tern is one of only two surviving Belfast Lough 25s of 1897, and she is the one with the closest links to Dun Laoghaire.

The Dublin Bay 25s were in turn based on the Belfast Lough 25s of 1897, all of them built by John Hilditch of Carrickfergus. But after that class was wound up in 1909, one of them – Tern – was in Dublin Bay from 1912 until 1919, and again from 1944 to 1954. Thus of all the Belfast Lough boats, Tern has the strongest Dublin Bay links, so who knows, as she has recently had a major restoration, she too might be a candidate for the Bicentenary Classics regatta in Dublin Bay.

Soon after John Hilditch finished the eight Belfast Lough 25s, he built the first five Howth 17s in 1898, and they all survive, while the class has expanded far beyond the original five. In fact a new boat – the nineteenth – is now being built for Ian and Judith Malcolm at the remarkable Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany, and as the Howth 17s have been a mainstay of the VDLR in times past, they should be encouraged to participate in 2017.

howth 17The Howth 17s racing in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Photo: VDLR

Howth 17 under construction at Skol ar Mor in southern BrittanyThe backbone of the new Howth 17 under construction at Skol ar Mor in southern Brittany

IDRA_14A real classic. Gerry Sargent (on helm) and Ian McCormick sailing the 1962-built IDRA 14 Starfish to victory in the class’s 70th Anniversary Race, September 2016.

After the great success of their 70th Anniversary season through the summer of 2016, the IDRA 14s have themselves a new lease of life, and they always seem to achieve their best turnouts in the Dun Laoghaire regatta, so they’ll be looking to excel themselves, particularly after being seen to extremely good effect on TV this week……

Another historic class which has possibilities is the Colleens, where Hal Sisk led a movement to re-create the old 1890s design in fibreglass. With a bit of encouragement, owners like Dermot O’Flynn might be persuaded to return to Dublin Bay after this year’s cruising in West Cork, and maybe race against Hal himself. However, this tireless promoter of sailing heritage has other boats which he might sail, including a Water Wag and the famous Peggy Bawn, though she is currently very actively for sale.

vdlr 1713 Dermot O’Flynn’s Colleen in Crosshaven

We don’t consider the Dragons at first thought as Classics, but their design goes back to 1929, and one of the best classic Dragon fleets in the world is to be found in Ireland, in Glandore in West Cork, where that seasoned campaigner Don Street sets a cracking pace. They’ll be beating the drum for everyone to go to the Glandore Classics in the last week of July 2017, so maybe some of the Glandore Classics might see their way to heading for Dun Laoghaire to strut their stuff between the 6th and 9th of July.

In the classic cruiser end of things, one of the most popular boats around Dublin Bay is Darryl Hughes’ beautifully-restored 1937 Tyrrell ketch Maybird. Though he has entered for the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race on June 14th, his love of maritime history is such that he finds the idea of being in Dun Laoghaire – where Maybird’s sister-ship Aideen was based for many years – a very enticing prospect for the Bicentenary in July.

vdlr 1714Darryl Hughes’ 1937 Tyrrell ketch Maybird

There are many other superb classic boats not too distant from Dublin Bay. But if they’re going to be invited to the Bicentenary Regatta in Dun Laoghaire, it has to be remembered that these aren’t rough and tumble modern boats which can be left to their own devices. On the contrary, they need pampered attention.

For starters, most of them find it much easier to come to a mooring than struggle into a marina berth. So one suggestion which has already arisen is that temporary additional moorings for Classics should be laid off the National Yacht Club, where there’s most space available, and it would have the bonus of putting these fascinating craft where they’d be most conveniently visible from shore.

So many and varied are the needs of true classics that they need special treatment. Ideally, each boat - and certainly each class - should have a designated minder complete with RIB and crew to look after their needs. When you learn of the effort that is needed to bring an old classic back up to first class order, genuine care and attention for boat and crew should be a natural priority at any port they visit.

It’s not unreasonable to suggest that after the turmoil of the past two Centuries, there is much to celebrate in the fact that, in 2017, the 200 year old Dun Laoghaire Harbour seems at last to be finding an equitable system of management and administration. But if people are going to be invited to bring their cherished classics to Dublin Bay to celebrate this, then it’s only right and proper that the most thoughtful Irish hospitality should be extended to them in every way.

Published in W M Nixon

#InlandWaters - More than 15 of Ireland's unique and hugely significant heritage barges – the Big Boats – are touring the Shannon Blueway, Lough Allen and the North Shannon from this Saturday 23 July till Saturday 6 August.

Organised by the Heritage Boat Association, a programme of public events and activities is planned in conjunction with Waterways Ireland and the communities of Drumshanbo and Leitrim village.

​The first activity in the programme takes place on the morning of Friday 29 July as a cargo of coal is delivered by miners from the Arigna mines to a fleet of 12 heritage cargo boats waiting at Drumshambo lock on the Lough Allen Canal.

​The public will be able to watch the loading from 10.30am and walk the Shannon Blueway from Drumleague Lock to Battlebridge lock with the boats as they travel along the canal to Acres Lake.

Walkers can also join with the boats at Drumhauver Bridge or Drumleague Lock from 11.30am and walk the rest of the way to Battle Bridge with the Big Boats.

On Saturday 30 July, Leitrim village will host the boats with a festival of music and fun. All are invited to come along and learn about the heritage boats – the same commercial barges that once carried cargos all across the inland waterways of Ireland.

Activities begin at 2pm with talks in Leitrim Village Community Centre and will be followed by a music and a free BBQ sponsored by the Barge Steakhouse. Visitors can come to look at the boats at the Apartment Narina north of Leitrim Village bridge.

The two week trip concludes with a visit to Drumsna on 5-6 August.

The Heritage Boat Association is celebrating the North Shannon navigations and in particular the Lough Allen Canal, which was built almost 200 years ago to carry Arigna coal to the main Shannon navigation.

The Big Boats were the juggernauts of their day and the canals were the highways on which the commerce of the nation depended.

The skippers and crews of the heritage boats are particularly interested in meeting with families who would have had friends or relations who worked on the navigation when it was a commercial waterway.

Full details of the trip and the Heritage Boat Association are available on their website HERE.

Published in Inland Waterways

Classic yachts and traditional boats with close Irish links figured prominently among the prize-winners at the recent International Classic Boat Awards 2016 in London writes W M Nixon.

At a ceremony which was attended by more than 120 specialists and key individuals from places as diverse as Finland, Spain, Switzerland and Italy in addition to the UK and Ireland, the rare skills and painstaking patience involved in bringing old boats back to vibrant elegance and full seagoing style were given their proper recognition.

At the top level, the quality of restoration on the international scene provided by specialist firms is usually built on team skills developed over many years by craftsmen accustomed to working closely with each other in a long-established yard. This was the case with the overall winner for the Restoration of the Year, which went to the 1910 International Ten Metre Marga, a Carl Oscar Lilegren design and originally Swedish built, which was given the full restoration treatment by Cantiera Tecnomar in Fiumicino near Rome. The Tecnomar yard is noted for its restorations, the most famous being Orianda.

classic awards2

Tern as she was in her second season of 1898. The sailmaker couldn’t find her proper number 7 in time to fulfill the order, so he made do with an inverted 2 instead, and that’s the way she has been restored for 2015-16. Photo courtesy RUYC

However, despite the ferocious competition, the runner-up position in the overall Restoration of the Year category went to an 1897 yacht which was brought back to life by a free-lance team assembled for the purpose. Moreover, they did the job in a large shed in Palma, Mallorca, rather than in a purpose-designed boatyard. And with all due respects to the readers of Classic Boat magazine who voted on the many nominations for this top award, the yacht which was runner-up is a much better-looking boat than the winner, as she is the beautiful William Fife-designed Belfast Lough One-Design Association Class I 37ft yacht Tern, originally built by John Hilditch in Carrickfergus with seven sisters-ships in just five months in 1896-1897.

classic awards3

That magic moment when you realise a total restoration has been achieved to perfection. On Tern’s first sail in her re-born form on 6th August 2015 off Palma are (left to right) researcher Patricia O’Connell, rigger Chuck Demangeat on the helm, and lead restoration yachtbuilder Paul Harvey. Photo: Alan Renwick

Her superb restoration was completed in August 2015 by a team led by Paul Harvey and including cabinet-maker and joiner Alan Renwick, boatbuilder Nico Calderoni, surveyor John Walker, and owner’s representatives Brendon Hay and Iain Cook, with Patricia O’Connell as researcher. The legendary Chuck Demangeat was in charge of the restoration of Tern’s rig, which sets classic sails specially made by Andy Cassell of Ratsey & Lapthorn in Cowes.

The same firm made Tern’s original suit in 1897, but back then it was the company’s Scottish branch loft in Gourock which did the job, and it still called itself Lapthorn & Ratsey. They were in such a hurry to get the sails away in time to Belfast that when a Number 7 could not be found in the sail loft’s numbers locker to be sewn onto Tern’s mainsail, they made do with an inverted 2, and it was under this unique symbol that Tern had six years of successful racing with her original owners, the King family of Cultra on the south shore of Belfast Lough.

classic awards4

She’s a beauty from any angle. The award-winning restoration of Tern has recaptured the Fife style

With her complete restoration in 2014-2015, the weird numerical symbol of 1897 has been restored too. It was prominent at the head of the under 40ft division in races at the Classic Regattas on the French Riviera in late September, with Tern winning her class in Les Voiles de St Tropez 2015.

Another area of classic yacht interpretation was also of Irish interest at the London ceremony, and this was in one of the specialist divisions, the Spirit of Tradition. It can be a tricky brief to interpret, but let’s just say that when you see a true Spirit of Tradition classic, you’ll know that you’re looking at one without having to be told.

classic awards5

Once upon a time, she was a standard little Elizabethan 23. But with Bill Trafford working his magic, she has become Kioni, winner of the Spirit of Tradition (under 40ft) prize at the International Classic Awards 2016.

This was certainly the case in Crookhaven in West Cork last summer when the 26ft Kioni made her appearance. Amazingly, somewhere inside this exceptionally elegant little sloop is the hull of an old glassfibre-built Elizabethan 23. She had originally been designed with a standard 1960’s retroussé counter. But Bill Trafford of North Cork transformed her counter, and fitted a teak-laid deck to die for, along with other gems of yacht-building. So not surprisingly, in London Kioni won the Spirit of Tradition award for yachts under 40ft.

classic awards6

Jim Horgan of Furbo in his workshop with one of his models of a Galway Hooker. Photo: W M Nixon

Last year, a Classic Award for traditional boat-building went to Jim Horgan of Galway for his clinker-built cat-rigged dinghy based on the late O’Brien Kennedy’s interpretation of the designs for the Bray Droleen. This year, Jim was back, representing the Galway Hooker Association, the Wooden Boatbuilders Trade Association, and the Conamara Heritage Centre to present Rob Peake, editor of Classic Boat, with a half model of a Galway Hooker which he’d made in his Furbo workshop. The presentation was made in appreciation for the work done by Classic Boat magazine on behalf of traditional and classic boat enthusiasts worldwide, and neatly rounded out an excellent evening for the classic and traditional yacht and boat movement.

classic awards7

At home in Conamara. Some of the traditional-style boats built under Jim Horgan’s tuition.

Published in Historic Boats

The revival of Portaferry in Strangford Narrows as a mid-summer focal point for classic and traditional sail afloat, combined with traditional music and festivities ashore, is set to take place from Thursday June 16th to Sunday June 19th this year with the newly branded and re-vamped Portaferry Sails & Sounds Festival 2016 writes W M Nixon

Time was when the highlight for traditional sailors at Portaferry, where the tides sluice with some strength in and out of Northern Ireland’s saltwater lake of Strangford Lough, was racing by restored Galway hookers - they came north in substantial numbers in late June from their home ports in the greater Dublin area. But it is the new Dublin-Galway motorway – of all things - which has seen numbers of traditional craft around Dublin Bay decline as they migrated back to their newly-accessible true heartlands around Galway Bay, such that now if you want to be sure to see hookers - including many Dublin-owned ones - racing in strength, you need to go Macdara’s Island off Connemara for St MacDara’s Day – July 16th – or to Kinvara at the head of Galway Bay for Cruinniu na mBad, which in 2016 is August 19th to 21st.

Golden Nomad Master Frank2
Alan and Irene Aston’s Cornish Crabber Golden Nomad in Portaferry Marina, while beyond with bowsprit housed is Joe Pennington’s famous Manx Longliner Master Frank

But there are other places in the Irish Sea where traditional craft and interesting old gaffers are to be found, notably in North Wales and particularly in the Isle of Man, where Joe Pennington has restored the last Ramsey Longliner – Master Frank – into superb sailing conditions, while Mike Clark continues to maintain the Manx nobby White Heather under her classic labour-intensive lugger rig.

Naomh Cronan3
Naomh Cronan in Portaferry Marina

As well of course, the big Clondalkin-originated Galway Hooker Naomh Cronan continues to make the Irish Sea her home base, sailing from Poolbeg in Dublin, and there’s an increasing number of classic restored gaff yachts at many centres all round the Irish Sea and the Firth of Clyde, which link together through the Old Gaffers Association. This will provide a real increase in the fleet which this year will make Portaferry a major happening again, the interest further heightened by the presence of Strangford Lough’s fleet of nine-plus Iain Oughtred-designed four-oared skiffs, which have a regular racing programme in the lough.

Strangford skiff4
The Strangford Village Rowing Club’s skiff in action at their home port, with Portaferry just across the narrows. Photo: W M Nixon

Ocean Dove5
Gary Lyons’ ketch Ocean Dove in party mode in Portaferry Marina

Stu Spence6
Adrian “Stu” Spence, one of the main movers and shakers behind the new-look Portaferry Sail & Sounds 2016 in June.

The two powers in the land who are making sure it all takes off are Garry Lyons of the Northern Ireland Old Gaffers Association, skipper of the vintage ketch Ocean Dove, and another northern sailor, the legendary Adrian “Stu” Spence, who in 2014 finally parted from his incredibly old Pilot Cutter Madcap (she may have dated back as far as 1873), which over many seasons he’d cruised to places as distant and different as Greenland and Spain.

In the Autumn of last year he came into Poolbeg with his new Mediterranean-acquired vessel, a rakishly clipper-bowed Vagabond 47 ketch which Skipper Spence currently refers to as “The Love Boat” – we look forward to learning of the official name in due course. The new ship was in Poolbeg in order to access the specialist talents whom Stu Spence has got to know during his long years with the Old Gaffers, in order to make the big ketch fit for anything before she finally goes on to her home mooring at Ringhaddy in Strangford Lough, and she’ll admirably fulfill the role of one of the flagships for Portaferry Sails and Sounds in June.

love boat7
Stu Spence currently refers to his newly-acquired Vagabond 47 ketch – seen here in Poolbeg Marina – as “The Love Boat”. Photo: W M Nixon

Run jointly by the Northern Ireland Old Gaffers Association and Portaferry Sailing Club, Portaferry Sails & Sounds 2016 promises the perfect mixture of sport and spectacle, sailing and singing, and dancing and divilment to make the Midsummer Weekend pass merrily in the classic and traditional style.

White Heather8
Mike Clark’s traditionally-rigged Manxy Nobby White Heather from Peel is expected in Portaferry in June

Published in Historic Boats
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About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

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