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Morbihan Tides Are No Picnic for Sail Festival Fleet

23rd May 2017
The size and variety of the Morbihan Festival fleet continued to amaze at todays picnic, but the style of the boats wasn’t quite matched by the style of the crews on the beach The size and variety of the Morbihan Festival fleet continued to amaze at todays picnic, but the style of the boats wasn’t quite matched by the style of the crews on the beach Photo: Judith Malcolm

When you’ve an inland sea well filled with islands, the tides running between them are bound to be quite strong from time to time writes W M Nixon. After the second day of the Morbihan Festival of Sail, the veteran visitors from Ireland – fourteen Water Wags from Dun Laoghaire and six Howth Seventeens – are wondering if there’s ever any significant time lapse between very determined tides running one way or another.

They’ve been experiencing all this before the more structured part of the programme, which for some classes in the 1400 boat fleet will include proper racing, finally gets under way tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. For Irish crews, it all looks like being a bit of a culture shock. The starting signals start going at 0900hrs. And at this mega-event, the word is that when they say 0900hrs, they mean 0900hrs.

So today was the final countdown of taking it easy. Taking it easy at the Morbihan consisted of selecting a beach for a fleet picnic, and then making a point of everyone sailing there. With strong sunshine but light summery winds, it took at least two hours to dodge inside the tides when possible in order to reach the venue, where everyone continued to be boggle-eyed with wonder at the size of the fleet.

However, the tide was still flooding when they headed for home, and they came back in less than 45 minutes. But they need a bit of racing by the Wednesday. Too much of this lotus-eating couldn’t be for the long-term good of those involved. And as for picnics, our photo yesterday (which we can’t resist re-using today) showed that when it comes to picnics, the Water Wags have incomparable form. They know a thing or two about doing sailing picnics properly. None of your vulgar baseball caps in 1887...

dalkey island picnic Water WagThis is how you should dress for a sailing picnic....The Water Wags at The First Picnic on Dalkey Island, June 21st 1887. Photo courtesy Water Wags

Published in Historic Boats
Vincent Delany

About The Author

Vincent Delany

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Sailing historian Vincent Delany is a member of the Association of Yachting Historians, and an active sailor in Water Wag, SOD and Squib classes. He has written a thesis on 'Yachting and yachtsmen on the River Shannon 1830-1930.' He has lectured on the history of The Water Wag Club, Royal St.George Yacht Club, and the Killinure Yacht Club, He has written two sailing books 'The Water Wags 1887-2012' and 'The International 12 foot class in Ireland' both of which are available from

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