#mermaid – When the ubiquitous DBSC Mermaid was established in the 1930's, few could have envisioned the class would continue to flourish 80 years later with new boats still being built and large competitive fleets regularly racing around the country.
The Mermaid is 3 person ¾ decked dinghy designed by "Skipper" John Kearney, a noted member of the National Yacht Club, during the first half of the 20th Century and well known internationally for many iconic designs. The brief given to Kearney by a group of Dun Laoghaire sailors was to design and build a rugged, but lively centre board dinghy suitable for Dublin Bay for no more than the cost of a motor cycle. It is a robust seaworthy boat with a good turn of speed and is very demanding to get best out of it when racing.
Over the years almost 200 boats have been built and with about 60 boats still active, it remains one of the largest racing fleets in the country. Whilst retaining its classic construction, the boat has carefully evolved over the years and become faster, easier to sail and most importantly, stronger and much easier to maintain.
The Mermaid Class is celebrating its 80th Anniversary in 2012 with up to 50 boats expected to attend the National Championships in Skerries in August.
As part of the celebrations, the Class decided to undertake an East about cruise in relays from Foynes on the Shannon, a leading Mermaid stronghold, to the spiritual home of the Mermaid in Skerries. The trip, known as "The Voyage Home", organised by Therese Mc Hugh a former MSA President, plans to visit most of the wonderful cruising locations on the South Coast culminating with hopefully what will be some fast sprints up the East Coast to arrive in Skerries on the weekend before the Championships. It is hoped that as many as 30 boats will participate in the last legs from Dun Laoghaire to Skerries via Rush. All the locations where Mermaids are regularly sailed will be visited during the trip including Dungarvan, the most recent area where Mermaids have established a foothold under the leadership of Eugene Burke.
Thumbalina passes the Mizen on her journey home
Following spectacular sailing over the last two weeks the boat being used for the trip, Thumbalina No 26 (built in 1953 and currently owned by Patrick Boardman), has arrived in Crookhaven. Highlights so far include visits to Smerwick Harbour, Derrynane and fabulous passages through Dursey Sound and the Blasket Sound. Encounters with Dolphins and ideal benign sailing conditions have been features of the first 3 legs. By the completion of the "Voyage Home", it is hoped that virtually all the active sailors in the fleet will have participated in at least one leg.
The vibrancy of the Class is manifested with the imminent launching of 3 new boats built in Rush over the last 9 months. This project has been managed by Enda Weldon who is putting together his second boat since the mid 90's.
Over the next week Thumbalina will be sailed to Baltimore and then to Glandore with a planned arrival in Kinsale by 23rd June.