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Displaying items by tag: St. Michaels Rowing Club

Coastal rowing in Ireland is a varied sport, but early September sees a very special race come to the shores of Dublin Bay. At 28km, this is the longest annual single-crew rowing race in the country. Around a dozen crews will start from the Hobblers' Memorial in Dun Laoghaire harbour, leave the bay, round the Kish lighthouse, and pull back to the finish line at the harbour mouth in Dun Laoghaire, battling hard for the Hobblers' Challenge cup.

The 2012 Hobblers' Challenge will take place on Saturday 8th September, starting at 1.30pm at Dún Laoghaire's East Breakwater. The race is open to mens, ladies, or mixed crews, most rowing the traidtional wooden clinker-built east coast skiffs of the region. However, this year the event has been opened up to include a wider variety of boat types, from Currach to 6-oar Cornish Pilot Gig, to modern fibreglass designs, make the race even more colourful.

rowing lineup

Lined up and ready at last years Hobblers Cup

Proudly organised by St. Michael's Rowing Club in Dún Laoghaire, The Hobblers' Challenge is an annual race run as a memorial to the hobblers of Dublin Bay, who during the 18th and 19th centuries invented what could be considered as the original rowing race. These men would leave Dún Laoghaire, Ringsend and other nearby harbours to meet ships arriving into Dublin. The first crew to the ship would win the business of pilotage and unloading, a tradition continuted by the east coast's 10 skiff racing clubs to this day.

rowing cup

The Hobblers Perpetual Cup and crews racing to the Kish in last years event.

In 2010 Stella Maris Rowing Club took home the coveted cup with a time of 3hrs 3mins and 3 seconds from a field of 5 skiffs. 2011 saw their Ringsend neighbours St. Patricks Rowing Club take the cup in a time of 2hrs 57mins from a field of 10 skiffs. With 15 boats of varying types already entered at time of print, from Skerries in the north to Arklow in the south, 2012 promises to be a hotly contested race. Will the cup go back to Ringsend for a 3rd year running? Will the winning time be quicker again? Will one of the home crews mount a challenge? We'll find out very soon but what can be guaranteed is a fun day out.

Dún Laoghaire will also host the exciting MOD 70s race on the same day so there will be plenty to watch and get involved in on the East Pier. St. Michael's Rowing Club will be fundraising for the RNLI on the day. In 2011, over €1,600 was raised by the generosity of the people of Dún Laoghaire.

rowing stmichaels

St. Michael's crew in action

Published in Coastal Rowing
One of the last surviving West Country ketches tallships out of a fleet of around 700, the Bessie Ellen was making passage through the Irish Sea yesterday from Falmouth bound for Liverpool, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 120-foot vessel was built by WS Kelly in Plymouth and for most of her 107-year career she traded in transporting aggregates, china clay, clay, grain, peat, salt and other bulk cargoes between Britain and Ireland. She would be a typical example to the type of vessel that would of employed the services of the Dublin Bay 'Hobblers', the name of the boats that race out to provide pilotage duties, to read more about this and yesterday's Hobblers Challenge click HERE.

Bessie Ellen is rigged with eight sails which cover 330 sq m and this would be the only source of power to transport her hold which had a cargo capacity for 150 tons. Her original owner was the North Devon home-skipper Captain John Chichester who named the ketch after two of his daughters. The crew would be limited to between four to six persons, a captain, mate, deckhands and cook.

By the Second World War most of these numerous working cargo sailing ships were being taken over by power-driven vessels. They were becoming increasingly redundant and laid-up rotting away in creeks, fortunately there was sufficient cargo for Bessie Ellen up to 1947.

She was purchased by Danish owners for where she carried a profitable trade in scrap metal, even so sail-power was not enough and she had an engine installed. Trade increased and she was too small to serve her owners Capt. Moller up to the 1970's. In 1983 there were plans to convert the vessel for charter but this fell-through.

Her current owner Nikki Alford brought the vessel in 2000 and over the next three years she was refitted to original rigging specifications and re-emerged in her new career as a sail training vessel. She runs day-long sailing cruises and longer sailing expeditions and educational programmes. Accommodation is for 20 persons in bunks and another 12 is set aside for guests.To read more about the ketch click HERE.

In recent years another West Country traditional sailing vessel the staysail-schooner Kathleen and May made an historic voyage to Dublin in 2008 with a commercial cargo of French wine. This would be the first cargo she conveyed since 1961, also the last year in which the last Arklow owned cargo-carrying schooner the De Wadden would trade, though she was fitted with an engine. The schooner is now preserved in Liverpool, click this LINK.

Katheleen and May made a second delivery to Dublin in 2009 again for Fair Wind Wine and the company (CTMV) also chartered the schooner Etoile de France in advance of St. Patrick's Day. The final CTMV wine cargoes were on board the Bessie Ellen and Notre Dame de Romengol during the last Dublin Docklands Maritime Festival held in 2010. The small French coastal cargo vessel or "gabare" built in 1945 at Camaret, near Brest is classified by the French government as an historic monument.

Also last year the oldest sailing tallship in Europe, the French barque Belem attended the inaugural Hoist the French Sail, French Week in Dublin. The 1896 built Belem was specially chartered in to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alliance Francaise in Dublin.

Several years ago Belem called to the capital to deliver wine but this was a trade-only publicity exercise prior to the CTMV wine cargoes. Apart from wine she is also associated with Sir Arthur Ernest Guinness of the family brewing dynasty, who owned her as a private 'yacht' under the name of Fantôme II. To read more about the fascinating history of this barque click HERE.

Published in Tall Ships
Ten boats comprising of men's, women's and mixed crews from four East Coast skiff rowing clubs set off yesterday on the end-of-season Hobblers Challenge, a gruelling 25km rowing race from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to the Kish Lighthouse and back, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Ringsend based St. Patrick's Rowing Club boat Naomh Padraig, under the coxswain of Ken Cunningham, crossed the winning line at the harbour-mouth in a time of 2:57:36 to take the coveted cup. In addition to breaking the three-minute barrier, the St Patrick's men shaved almost six minutes off the time of last year's victors, Stella Maris Rowing Club, also from Ringsend.

Courtown Harbour Rowing Club took second place in a time of 3:3:19 and third place honours went to Stella Maris Rowing Club with a time of 3:16.00. The hosts of the Hobblers Challenge, St. Michaels Rowing Club based out of the Coal Harbour, passed under the high walls of the East Pier Lighthouse and battery some two minutes later in fourth place.

The annual event (for race-route click HERE) was only re-introduced onto the race calendar last year after a break of several years. The skiffs were launched at the Coal Harbour slipway where they headed over to line-up for the starter's gun opposite the Hobbler's Memorial located on the publicly accessible Eastern Breakwater which is between the Stena Line HSS fast-ferry berth and the Dun Laoghaire Marina.

In attendance to greet the start of the race in memorial of the Dublin Bay hobblers was the RNLB Anna Livia of the local RNLI lifeboat station. The bronze memorial depicts a tower of lifejackets in commemoration of three young Dun Laoghaire hobblers who after piloting and unloading the schooner Jealous of Me in Ringsend, failed to return home.

This occupation was carried out by men also from Ringsend, Dalkey and other harbours and it was the first crew to reach a ship and throw a hook on the deck who would win the business of pilotage and unloading in Dublin Port.

Crews would think nothing of rowing out to the Kish Bank on the hope of spotting a ship. If they waited offshore and no passing trade appeared along the East Coast the craft doubled as a bed if it became too late to row home. The craft were much larger and heavier compared to the present day skiff and it is in these oarstrokes that the Hobblers Challenge follows the original race of the hobblers during the 18th and 19th centuries.

It was apt that on the same day of this year's Hobblers Challenge, the 107-year-old ketch Bessie Ellen, a former cargo-carrying vessel that represented one of the last such sail-trading ships operating in the Irish Sea, was making a passage to the east of the Kish Bank.

To read more about the un-manned Kish Lighthouse click this HERE, and for the 150 cargo tons capacity ketch built in 1904 click HERE.

Published in Dublin Bay

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